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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

11. Modernist Portraits

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- Sherwood Anderson
- Hart Crane
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Susan Glaspell
- Ernest Hemingway
- Nella Larsen
- Marianne Moore
- John Dos Passos
- Gertrude Stein
- Wallace Stevens
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities


The information for each author includes biographical and contextual materials and activities.

Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941)
Born in southern Ohio, Sherwood Anderson was the middle child of seven. His father, a harness maker, moved the family around a great deal during Anderson's childhood in search of work. In 1894 the family settled in Clyde, Ohio, which probably served as the model for Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, though Anderson claimed... Go

Hart Crane (1899-1932)
Though Hart Crane only lived thirty-three years, the rich poetry he produced provides readers with an alternative view of modernity--his poems seek connectedness and optimism in a world many of his contemporaries saw as fragmented and hopeless. His life was not an easy one; his relationship with his... Go

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
F. Scott Fitzgerald's best-known work, The Great Gatsby, has made him familiar to generations of students of American literature. Though the book sold poorly when it was first published, it has since become one of the most widely read American novels and justified Fitzgerald's reputation as one of the... Go

Susan Glaspell (1876-1948)
Born in Davenport, Iowa, Susan Glaspell grew up in a Midwest that was settled only decades before, but was developing rapidly as the post-Civil War economic boom transformed the United States. After graduating from high school, Glaspell worked as a reporter for the Davenport Morning Republican and then for... Go

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Hemingway once stated that his goal as a writer was to create "one true sentence." The characteristic pared-down style he developed influenced a number of subsequent authors. Known for his emotionally recalcitrant characters, Hemingway created stories of men proving themselves in physically demanding... Go

Nella Larsen (1891-1964)
Nella Larsen, like Quicksand's Helga, was born to parents of different races: her father was West Indian and her mother was Danish. After her father died (when Larsen was two), her mother married a white man and raised Larsen in an all-white environment. Her adopted family was embarrassed by her dark... Go

Marianne Moore (1887-1972)
Moore, like many other authors in this unit, was born in the Midwest but eventually settled in the East. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1909, and, after traveling for two years with her mother abroad, taught at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania for four years. She continued to live ... Go

John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
John Dos Passos is one of the most overtly political authors in this unit. Involved in many radical political movements, Dos Passos saw the expansion of consumer capitalism in the first decades of the twentieth century as a dangerous threat to the health of the nation. The son of unmarried Portuguese American... Go

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Gertrude Stein lived most of her life in Europe, yet considered herself an American, famously declaring that "America is my country and Paris is my hometown." In 1903, after dropping out of medical school, she joined her brother Leo in Paris and began to write. She and her brother began collecting modern... Go

Wallace Stevens (1883-1963)
Wallace Stevens grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Harvard University for three years, leaving in 1897 to pursue a career as a writer. At the age of twenty-one, he joined the editorial staff of The New York Tribune, but discovered that he did not enjoy journalism. A year later he enrolled at New... Go

Suggested Author PairingsGo

Slideshow Tool
This tool builds multimedia presentations for classrooms or assignments. Go

An online collection of 3000 artifacts for classroom use. Go

Download PDF
Download the Instructor Guide PDF for this Unit. Go


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