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

5. Masculine

•  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 did racial tensions complicate and challenge the expansionist goals articulated in many American texts of the nineteenth century?

• How did gender impact immigrants' experiences and opportunities in the American West?

• How do texts by African American, Native American, and Latino writers expand and transform concepts of American citizenship, identity, and masculinity?

• What are the distinguishing characteristics of the epic? How do writers in Unit 5 draw on and transform the tradition of the epic?

• What characterizes the historical novel? What historical periods or events did nineteenth-century historical novelists see as appropriate subjects for their books? Why were historical novels so popular among nineteenth-century American readers?

• What genres count as literature? How do letters, memoirs, and songs challenge the traditional borders of "the literary"?

• What is a "frontier"? How have American ideas about the frontier changed over time?

• What kinds of attitudes toward nature and the environment were prevalent in nineteenth-century American culture?

• How did the concept of Manifest Destiny impact nineteenth-century American political policies and literary aesthetics?

• What kinds of ideals and values do corridos advocate? How did corridos influence the development of Chicano literature?

• What are the distinguishing characteristics of free verse? How did Whitman's development of free verse influence subsequent American poetry?

• What ideals of masculinity helped shape the nineteenth-century figure of the American hero?

• How were symbols and language usually associated with Anglo-American "patriotism" borrowed, appropriated, and transformed by African American, Native American, and Latino writers and artists?

• How have American attitudes toward landscape and the environment changed over time?

• How were the figures of the bandit and the outlaw represented in popular texts of the mid- to late nineteenth century? What kinds of myths came to surround these figures?

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