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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
•  Timeline
•  Activities
- Overview Questions
- Video
- Author
- Context
- Creative Response
- PBL Projects

Activities: Overview Questions

Instructor Overview
A brief description of the literary movement within its historical context.
• How do the writers in this unit reflect the distinct cultures and experiences of different ethnic and socio-economic groups, including Sinclair's portrayal of European immigrants, Bulosan's depictions of Asian immigrants, and the Latino/a representations in the works of Viramontes, Rivera, and Ríos?

• How do these works represent gender?

• How do we have to expand our definitions of what is considered American after we read these works? Is citizenship the only thing that makes one an American? What other factors should one consider?

• How do these works "give voice" to those who do not usually have a voice in our society?

• What are the distinguishing characteristics of the many works depicting the migrant story? What cultural values are reflected and promoted in them?

• What historical events and cultural anxieties in the United States helped to inspire these works? How have economic booms and busts affected the literature about the American landscape and its farmlands?

• What role do politics and environmental conditions play in these works?

• In what ways can the stories of migrants and working people represent the stereotypical "American" experience? In what ways are these stories similar to and different from the stories of earlier settlers of the United States, such as the Puritans or those who settled at Jamestown?

• What negative effects of technology and industrialization are portrayed in these works? What positive effects?

• How have the plots of these literary works helped to preserve and comment on important moments in U.S. history?

• Is the theme of "social justice" present in every work? What distinguishes its various treatments?

• How is the land or the environment used as a repeated symbol in these works?

• Though most of the characters depicted in these works are considered outsiders or are marginalized by society, how can they also be considered universal? How do their struggles and dreams relate to all of us?

• How do these works participate in or challenge racial stereotypes, especially concerning Filipinos and Latinos/as?

• How is class-consciousness present in migrant representations of American life? What classes of people are depicted in these texts? How do the different classes treat each other?

• Do these works demonstrate that everyone can achieve the American Dream?

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