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

16. The Search For Identity

•  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 minority writers distinguish their communities' values from "mainstream" values?

• What can writers' descriptions of physical spaces, including cities, workplaces, and houses, tell us about American life in the twentieth century?

• How do Americans use public and private memorials, such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or the quilts in Alice Walker's "Everyday Use," to define themselves?

• What literary strategies are commonly used in postmodern texts?

• How are the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, and the queer rights movement reflected in literature?

• How has the American family changed with the advent of the women's liberation movement? How might authors both mourn the passing of traditional ways and celebrate new developments in society?

• How do the writers in this unit use and/or adapt strategies or stylistic devices of various oral traditions, including the Native American and Mexican American oral storytelling traditions?

• What does it mean to be a "radical" writer?

• How do writers incorporate specific historical events, such as wars or scientific advances, into their texts?

• How have authors used techniques of collage in their writings, and how do these techniques echo other artistic movements?

• How do postmodern narratives adapt earlier literary forms? How and why do they borrow from or reject these earlier forms?

• How do authors use "storytelling" to transmit ideas to their readers?

• How have women writers revised the myth of the "self-made man"?

• How do writers use characters' belongings, homes, and careers as symbols of both heritage and values?

• How do writers educate readers about social injustice?

• A bildungsroman tells the story of a character's journey, often from innocence to experience (or childhood to adulthood). How do the Unit 16 writers adapt the bildungsroman to express the experiences of minority groups within American society? Is it possible to discuss ethnic subgroups as "characters" who progress through stages of development? Why or why not? What might be the benefits and pitfalls of such an approach?

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