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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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4. Spirit of Nationalism   

4. Spirit of Nationalism

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

Activities: Context Activities

Core Contexts
Every Man for Himself: American Individualism
Although the term "individualism" was not in general use until the 1820s, the foundational principles behind the concept were established by the mid-eighteenth century. Enlightenment philosophers like Newton and Locke argued that the universe is arranged in an orderly system, and that by the application of reason and intellect, human beings are capable of... Go

A New Rome: Neoclassicism in the New Nation
In Act III of Royall Tyler's The Contrast, the model American character, Colonel Manly, delivers an impassioned soliloquy: "When the Grecian states knew no other tools than the axe and the saw, the Grecians were a great, a free, and a happy people.... They exhibited to the world a noble spectacle--a number of independent states united by a similarity of language... Go

Mammoth Nation: Natural History and National Ideals
When Benjamin Franklin was abroad in England as a young man, he discovered that Europeans were fascinated by some of the natural "curiosities" he had brought over from the New World. Indeed, his "asbestos purse"--a clump of fibrous material that was impervious to fire--so interested a wealthy nobleman that it procured Franklin an invitation to the... Go

Extended Contexts
The Awful Truth: The Aesthetic of the Sublime
In Jefferson's famous description of the "Natural Bridge" rock formation in Notes on the State of Virginia, he declares that the bridge is a perfect example of a sublime view: "It is impossible for the emotions, arising from the sublime, to be felt beyond what they are here: so beautiful an arch, so elevated, so light, and springing, as it were, up to heaven, the rapture of the... Go

Miss America: The Image of Columbia
In 1775, the African American poet Phillis Wheatley opened the poem she addressed to George Washington with the lines "Celestial choir! enthroned in realms of light, / Columbia's scenes of glorious toils I write." She goes on to describe the goddess Columbia as "divinely fair," with olive and laurel branches in her "golden hair." With these lines, Wheatley became the first... Go

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