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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: Creative Response

  1. Journal: Think of an object or view you have seen or a phenomenon you have experienced that could be considered "sublime." Taking Margaret Fuller's description of Niagara Falls and Thomas Jefferson's account of the Natural Bridge as your model, write a description of your experience. How did the sight you viewed make you feel? What physical sensations did you experience? After you compose your account, think about the difficulties you encountered in translating your sublime experience into language. Does your written description effectively capture and explain your experience? If not, can you articulate what is missing from your account?

  2. Correspondence: Imagine that you have been asked to compose a series of Letters from an American Student. Write a letter to your foreign correspondent in which you address the question "What is an American?" Be sure to include specific examples of values and behaviors that you see as representative of an American and an explanation of who qualifies as an American.

  3. Artist's Workshop: Design or draw a figure that can function as a personification of contemporary America. How does your figure compare to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century images of Columbia? What difficulties did you experience when trying to create a representative image?

  4. Multimedia: In his lecture "The American Scholar," Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed, "the world is nothing, the man is all." Using Emerson's celebration of individualism as your inspiration, create a multimedia presentation that visually explores the importance of the individual within American culture. Include captions that explain and interpret the images you choose as exemplary of American individualism.

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