Analyzing Expansionist Documents

As we transition out of the Revolutionary Period it is incredibly important that you understand that literary periods are fluid…that means that there isn’t a line in the sand drawn between Revolutionary Literature and Romanticism right after 1776. The time after America’s Independence and the start of the Transcendental movement is an incredibly important few decades in which our economy, our borders, and our perception of what it means to be ‘American’ rapidly grew and changed. The literature from this time period reflects these changing viewpoints and the conflict that arises when social, political and economic upheaval happen all at once. Without this period of expansionism, we wouldn’t have the Transcendental movement.

During this period issues of economic changes, the role of women in the new country of America, and the displacement of Native Americans were reflected in the documents and literature of the time period. We will be examining documents from a report at Lowell Mill, Catherine Beecher and Andrew Jackson on each of these topics.

In groups you will examine one document from the period, identifying the speaker and the intended audience. You will annotate the text for examples of ethos, pathos and logos. Finally, you’ll determine how the speaker/write of the document effectively appealed to their audience using ethos/pathos/logos.

Next, you will work to create a presentation of your analysis for the class. Each group member will be responsible for one portion of the presentation, but ALL group members will need to have annotated and analyzed the text. Click here for the assignment instructions Rhetorical Analysis and here for the group work checklist.

You will present your analysis of the documents to your peers on September 30th, 2019.

Please click here see an example of a previous group of students’ powerpoint presentation to give you an idea of what this project could look like.


11th Grade American Literature Fall 2019

Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

In Chaucer’s time the church was the established cultural center of British life, and the power and importance of the church outranked even the monarchy. Towns and villages that once grew around lords providing protection now grew up around church and cathedrals. Worshipers traveled to receive sacraments and to indulgences, and to see the relics of holy saints. Men gained social status and education through working their way up through the clergy, and the church provided guidance to the people on all moral and spiritual matters.

At the same time, British society was changing – a new merchant middle class meant that upward mobility was possible for a greater number of people, as was societal influence.

Chaucer’s famous work, The Canterbury Tales, comments on these societal changes. Throughout the text we see the relationship between the classes and their expected behavior, the role of women in medieval society, the importance (and sometimes corruption) of the church through the stories of 29 individuals who are going in a pilgrimage to the cathedral at Canterbury.

Watch the video below for information on how Chaucer used language to make this social commentary.

Click here to access the stories from class with interlinear translations.

You have each been given one of four tales: The Prioress’ Tale, the prologue to the Pardoner’s Tale, the Miller’s Tale and the Reeves’ Tale. Watch the videos below for background information on each tale you’ve been assigned. Then click here to access your project over the tale from The Canterbury Tales. 

The Prioress

The Pardoner


The Reeve

The Miller

12th Grade Literature Fall 2018