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

9. Social

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- Henry
- Abraham Cahan
- Theodore
- W. E. B. Du Bois
- Sui Sin Far
- Henry James
- Sarah Morgan
Bryan Piatt
- Booker T.
- Edith Wharton
- Anzia Yezierska
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities


The information for each author includes biographical and contextual materials and activities.

Henry Adams (1838-1918)
From his early childhood on, Henry Adams was acutely aware of his heritage as part of the remarkable political dynasty of the Adams family. Both his great-grandfather and his grandfather had served as President of the United States, and his father, Charles Francis Adams, was a congressman and a diplomat. But while Henry Adams maintained a lively... Go

Abraham Cahan (c. 1860-1951)
As a journalist and fiction writer, Abraham Cahan explored the social, cultural, and spiritual tensions of the Eastern European Jewish immigrant experience in New York. His sensitive treatment of the dual identities of Jewishness and Americanism, and of issues of accommodation and acculturation, made him an... Go

Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
One of the foremost practitioners of American realism, Theodore Dreiser wrote novels and stories that explored such themes as the dangerous lure of urban environments, the conflict between Old World parents and their Americanized children, and the hollowness of the American drive for material success. Dreiser's own life... Go

W. E. B. Du Bois (c. 1868-1963)
With the publication of The Souls of Black Folk in 1903, W. E. B. Du Bois emerged as the intellectual leader of a new generation of African American activists who broke with the leadership and views of Booker T. Washington. Declaring that blacks should no longer accept second-class citizenship and... Go

Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) (1865-1914)
Writing around the turn of the twentieth century, Sui Sin Far, or Edith Maud Eaton, challenged entrenched social and political discrimination against Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans by publishing eloquent stories and articles about Chinese culture in North America. Her goal was... Go

Henry James (1843-1916)
Henry James (1843-1916) Known for his sophisticated style, precise language, extraordinary productivity, and innovative attention to the novel form, Henry James ranks among the greatest American writers. He was born in the mid-nineteenth century in New York City. His father, Henry James Sr., was a... Go

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (c. 1836-1919)
Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919) A poet widely published in nineteenth-century America, Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt saw hundreds of her verses appear in newspapers and magazines, and she published fifteen collected volumes of her work. The complexity and subtlety of some of her poetry tended to trouble... Go

Booker T. Washington (c. 1856-1915)
Born into slavery and poverty, Booker T. Washington grew up to become one of the most powerful African American public figures in the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. As a speaker, writer, and educator, Washington articulated ideas that had a tremendous influence on the state of race relations... Go

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)
Edith Wharton was born into a wealthy, conservative, New York family that traced its lineage back to the colonial settlement of the city. Although growing up within the upper echelon of New York society provided her with rich material for her fiction, the experience did not... Go

Anzia Yezierska (1880-1970)
In the course of a career that spanned more than fifty years, Anzia Yezierska recorded Eastern European women immigrants' struggles to find a place for themselves both within their traditional Jewish culture and within American society. Yezierska's goal as an author involved articulating Jewish women's experiences to... Go

Suggested Author Pairings   Go

Slideshow Tool
This tool builds multimedia presentations for classrooms or assignments. Go

An online collection of 3000 artifacts for classroom use. Go

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Download the Instructor Guide PDF for this Unit. Go


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