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

11. Modernist Portraits

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

Activities: Author Activities

Hart Crane - Author Questions

Back Back to Hart Crane Activities
  1. Comprehension: What does the speaker admire about Charlie Chaplin in "Chaplinesque"? What is the significance of the kitten in this poem? What do you think is meant by the assertion that the moon can "make / A grail of laughter of an empty ash can"?

  2. Context: Look at photographs of the Brooklyn Bridge and read Crane's poem about it. Why does this bridge function as an effective symbol for Crane? What is the poem saying about contemporary American society? What is its attitude toward modernization?

  3. Context: Crane's poetry relies heavily on metaphor, which he believed gave poetry its power to communicate with a reader. Choose a metaphor from one of Crane's poems and another from a poem by Marianne Moore. How do the two poets use these metaphors as vehicles for their ideas? What makes these metaphors effective? What similarities and differences do you see in the poets' approaches?

  4. Exploration: What is the effect of the host of esoteric allusions in The Waste Land? Why do you think Eliot chooses the kinds of references he does? Why does he draw from so many different religions?

  5. Exploration: Read Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" and consider what it has in common with Crane's The Bridge. Do you see similarities in their outlook on modern life? Both employ symbols of modernity--the ferry, which brings commuters to work in Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Bridge, which joined Brooklyn to Manhattan three decades after Whitman first published his poem. Why do you think both poems are set in this space between two cities? What does each poem say about the possibilities for connection between people? About the relation of the present to the past?

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