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

3. Utopian

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

Activities: Video Activities

Using the Video
Deepening materials for using the video with this Unit.
What characteristics of a literary work make it influential over time?
Video Comprehension Questions: What is new about Penn's "Letter to the Lenni Lenape"? How does he view Native Americans? How is his attitude toward Native Americans different from the Puritans' attitudes toward them?
Context Questions: What is typology? What events and institutions did the Puritans choose to understand typologically? How did typology help them make sense of the world and their position within it?
Exploratory Questions: Can you think of later, post-Puritan examples of jeremiads? Where can you see the influence of the jeremiad form in contemporary literature, culture, and politics? Why has the jeremiad remained a central component of the rhetoric of American public life?

How are American myths created, challenged, and reimagined in the literature of this period?
Video Comprehension Questions: What did John Winthrop mean when he proclaimed that New England would be "as a City on a Hill"? What benefits and responsibilities would such status incur for a community?
Context Questions: How did internal doubts and external enemies problematize and challenge the Puritans' conception of their "sacred errand"? How did Native Americans and "witches" fit into the Puritans' sense of their mission?
Exploratory Questions: How have Quaker beliefs and convictions influenced the development of American values?

What is American literature? What are the distinctive voices and styles in American literature? How do social and political issues influence the American canon?
Video Comprehension Questions: What are the characteristics of a jeremiad? How does Mary Rowlandson's text function as a jeremiad?
Context Questions: Why do you think Louise Erdrich chose to reimagine Mary Rowlandson's experience in her poem "Captivity"? How does Erdrich's poem both draw from and challenge Rowlandson's narrative?
Exploratory Questions: Why do you think the Puritans, more than any other early immigrant group, have historically been considered the starting point for the United States's national culture? Why did leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan choose to invoke John Winthrop's "City on a Hill" image in their late-twentieth-century speeches?

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