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

13. Southern Renaissance

•  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.
What is American literature? What are its distinctive voices and styles? How do social and political issues influence the American canon?
Video Comprehension Questions: What were the main social and cultural issues Faulkner and Hurston addressed in their writing? How were their responses to these issues different or similar?
Context Questions: Both Faulkner and Hurston are known for their innovative use of dialect. How do the characters' dialects help us relate to their social and economic conditions?
Exploratory Questions: Faulkner received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, after which his books became increasingly popular. Hurston faded into obscurity at about this same time. What might account for the differences in the way these writers were received? Why do you think Hurston's work found a new audience in the 1970s? What historical events might have prepared that audience to be newly receptive to Hurston's work?

How do place and time shape literature and our understanding of it?
Video Comprehension Questions: What are the differences and similarities between the settings and characters created by Faulkner and Hurston?
Context Questions: After the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of southerners--most of them black--headed north in search of better lives. This move, known as the "Great Migration," continued well into the 1920s and 1930s. How did the "Great Migration" influence Hurston's writing?
Exploratory Questions: Like Faulkner and Hurston, many other writers are well known for their vivid evocations of the time and place about which they write. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald (Unit 11) is famous for his depiction of elite New York City society in the 1920s, while Henry David Thoreau (Unit 12) is renowned for his descriptions of life in early-nineteenth-century New England. Compare the different strategies these writers use to evoke the periods and places about which they write. Why are these strategies effective for depicting each time and place?

What characteristics of a literary work have made it influential over time?
Video Comprehension Questions: Traditionally, stories have been told in a "linear" fashion, meaning that the story starts at the beginning and proceeds chronologically from one action or event to the next in a more or less straight line. Faulkner rebelled against this linear model, jumbling the chronology of his stories and thereby challenging readers to reassemble the action of the story in a logical manner. Consider both the subject matter of Faulkner's writing and the historical period in which he wrote: Why might Faulkner have chosen to write nonlinear stories?
Context Questions: In the video you learned that Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! was published in the same year as Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. In what ways does Faulkner's novel contest the vision of the South in Gone With the Wind?
Exploratory Questions: Hurston was often criticized during her lifetime for her realistic--but not always flattering--portrayals of African Americans. What did such critics hope to achieve, and how does such criticism fit in the larger context of African American writing in the twentieth century?

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