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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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8. Regional Realism   

8. Regional

•  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.
How do place and time shape the authors' works and our understanding of them?
Video Comprehension Questions: What political and social problems faced the American South in the period after the Civil War known as Reconstruction?
Context Questions: What role does the Mississippi River play in Mark Twain's depiction of Huck and Jim's journey southward in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? What are the implications of the fact that they continue to drift further and further south over the course of their adventure? How do Twain's depictions of the culture of the border state of Missouri compare to Chopin's representations of life in the Deep South in Louisiana?
Exploratory Questions: Why did the accurate representation of dialect play such an important role in regional realism? How did these writers' innovations in the creation of realistic-sounding dialogue affect later American literature?

What is an American? How does American literature create conceptions of the American experience and identity?
Video Comprehension Questions: What is the "plantation myth"? How do the featured southern regionalist writers challenge and transform ideas about life in the American South?
Context Questions: What is the difference between Chopin's portrait of mixed-race people in "Désirée's Baby" and Chesnutt's representations of mixed-race people in Cincinnati in "The Wife of His Youth"? What different attitudes and assumptions about race do these writers bring to their texts?
Exploratory Questions: What made Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Chopin's The Awakening such controversial novels, both in their own time and in ours? How did their representations of southern culture unsettle assumptions and cause discomfort in their readers? How does their work continue to challenge readers?

What characteristics of a literary work have made it influential over time?
Video Comprehension Questions: What is dialect? How did post-Civil War writers represent vernacular speech?
Context Questions: How does Twain's characterization of African Americans compare to Chesnutt's characterization of African Americans? How do both authors challenge and participate in racial stereotypes? How did their depictions of African American speech and culture influence later African American writers?
Exploratory Questions: Ernest Hemingway claimed that all subsequent American literature derived from Huckleberry Finn. What did Hemingway mean by this claim? Why did he see Twain's novel as so foundational to American identity and to American literary traditions?

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