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

15. Poetry of Liberation

•  Unit Overview
- Instructor
- Bibliography
& Resources
- Glossary
- Learning
•  Using the Video
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Unit Overview: Glossary

alienation - The experience of feeling outside mainstream culture. Most of the poets and movements in this unit explore a sense of alienation from society that has compelled them to search elsewhere for meaning. The emphasis on Eastern religion, alternative states of reality, hedonism, and nature suggests that these poets were seeking to redefine themselves and their generation through art.

free verse - Poetry that does not have a regular rhyme scheme or meter. Some of the features of free verse include enjambment, visual patterning, and varying line lengths. Most poets in this unit write in free verse.

protest poetry - Poetry that strives to undermine established values and ideals, particularly those associated with the government and other bodies of authority. Protest poetry often aims to shock readers into political action by discussing taboo subject matter, using unconventional and often profane language, criticizing popular beliefs, and shunning formal poetic conventions.

removal - A term that refers to the American policy, spearheaded by President Andrew Jackson, which forcibly relocated major southeastern Indian tribes to Oklahoma. The Creek Indians, along with most of the other large southern tribes such as the Cherokee and Choctaw, were removed to Oklahoma during the 1830s. The Cherokee were forced to march to Oklahoma along what became known as the Trail of Tears, as over one-third of the tribe died en route.

Roe v. Wade - A controversial Supreme Court case from 1973, in which the Court ruled that abortion was legal. This was a turning point in American history because it gave women more authority over their bodies. The decision met with immediate resistance from Catholic groups and Christian fundamentalists. As the decade progressed, the courts gradually qualified the decision, making more stringent rules about the time frame and circumstances under which abortions can be performed.

sex(uality) - The sexual revolution was characterized not only by openness about the body and sex, but also by a willingness to engage in sexual activity outside marriage. Suddenly, the moral constraints placed on sexual activity were challenged, and sex became not just a more accepted and talked-about part of life, but also an area of experimentation and a symbol of the counterculture's rejection of mainstream values. The attitude towards sex in the 1960s revolutionized American culture and illustrates another example of the body being used as a site of radicalism and protest. This new candor about sex also ushered in the gay rights movement, which took off in the 1970s.

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