Women’s Rights – Sojourner Truth and Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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One of the major issues that we are examining during the Realist period is the fight for women’s rights. In class we will be examining the work of two women – Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth.

Each of these women worked to further the cause of suffrage and the abolitionist movement.

One of the main figureheads of the suffrage movement in America, Stanton wrote the ‘Declaration of Sentiments’, which were presented in 1848 at the Seneca Falls Convention. Stanton not only fought for women’s right to vote, but also for women’s property rights, employment rights, custody  rights, and right to birth control.

 

Click here to read her ‘Declaration of Sentiments’

sojourner_truth_lc1In addition to Stanton, Sojourner Truth also worked to support the cause of suffrage and abolition. Born into slavery, Truth would have 13 children (11 of them sold into slavery themselves, never to be seen again) before escaping to freedom. She then took on the role of public speaker, and used her own experience to encourage others not only to support the abolition of slavery but also the equality of women. Though she was illiterate herself, her speaking was clear and powerful. Many different versions of her famous ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’ speech exist today, but all of them share the similarity of tone and passion.

Click here to read her speech ‘Ain’t I A Woman?’

 

 

 

BONUS: Did you know that the original document ‘The Declaration of Sentiments’ has been lost? Click here to listen to an AMAZING podcast episode from the ladies over at ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ to learn more!

Be sure to watch the second half of the ‘Women in the 19th Century’ Crash Course video below!

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2017

Realism – A Reaction to American Romanticism

This week we are beginning our unit on Realism, the literary response to Romanticism. The style of Realism includes representing REAL life lived by REAL people (not the idealized life that Emerson and Thoreau presented), and a simple, direct language that everyone could understand.

Issues that we’ll examine throughout this unit include the struggles and trials of the Civil War, the last stand of the Native Americans in the Indian Wars, the suffrage of women and the emancipation of slaves, the influx of a new immigrant population, and the growing divide between the rich and the poor.

As we move through the unit please keep track of how these issues and themes play out across the texts and how they interact with each other in the individual texts.

 

If you would like to review the video notes from class today, please view it below:

 

 

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2017

The Foreign Mission School and Religious Tolerance in America

The relationship between earlier settlers, and later Americans, and the Native inhabitants of this country is an ongoing topic that we revisit in the texts we study in class.  In our class discussions we have noted the use of stereotypes when referring the Native Americans – the term ‘Native America’ itself in its homogeneous application, the ‘Noble Savage’ and ‘Wise Chief’, the ‘Indian Princess’ and the ‘Squaw’ and the barbarous ‘Savage’. We have also discuss how the Native American individuals themselves also seemed to purposely play into these stereotypes knowing that, unless they appeared to fulfill the preconceived notions of the white settlers and early Americans, there was a greater chance of their protests and pleas being ignored (See the post over Red Jacket’s speech for more information on this).

While many of the founders of the nation practiced Deist principals regarding religion, Christianity was still the dominant religion and touchstone for most Americans. The conflict between Puritan ideals and the Catholics and Quakers eventually shifted into the conflict between Protestants and all other religions (even other sects of Christianity) by the time of expansionism. In the early days of settlement, the conversion of the Native American was seen as a vital step to ‘civilizing’ the new world (as we discussed in our readings of Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity Narrative and Ben Franklin’s ‘Notes Concerning the Savages’), and as America set her eyes westward to expand, so the need to convert and assimilate the Native people of the American west to Christianity became another vital step in expansion.

One of the earliest accounts of this attempt at conversion took place at The Foreign Mission School. As we discuss and analyze the writings of Native American and Hawaiian students of this school, it is important to have a deeper understand of its history and historical context.

The Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut was founded with the plan that it would draw young men from world cultures, educate them, convert them to Christianity, and then send them back to their native lands to spread their new found religion.

And click here to read and listen to a recent interview with the author of the new book “The Heathen School: A Story of Hope and Betrayal in the Early Republic” and read a short excerpt from the book

 

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Elias Boudinot

We we be examining the letters of two Cherokee students at The Foreign Mission School, David Brown and Elias Boudinot, to a Swiss Baron that wanted to fund the school. These letters were written at the insistence of the school’s principal who claimed that the letters were the students’ own writing except for the changing of “a very few words”.

Click here to read the letters of The Foreign Mission School students.

You will be working together in small groups to conduct a rhetorical analysis of the letters, focusing on the syntax, diction and rhetorical devices used by the students of the mission school to achieve their purpose of securing further funding for the school. Be prepared as a class the effectiveness of the author’s writing during the time period and compare that to its effectiveness to a modern readership. Also be able to discuss the reliability of the letter as a primary source document, and  cite specific evidence from the text that adds or detracts from its credibility.

Click here to listen to the podcast episode over ‘The Heathen School’. 

  • How does the school to achieve their purpose of securing further funding for the school?
  • How would you rate the effectiveness of the author’s writing during the time period and compare that to its effectiveness to a modern readership?
  • Cite specific evidence from the text that adds or detracts from its credibility.

*Note: If you are interested in researching or learning more about the issue of religious tolerance in America, this article from The Smithsonian can provide a jumping off point for more information – Click here for the Smithsonian article.’

Click here to review our in-class annotations over the Foreign Mission School letters.

11th Grade American Literature Fall 2017

Charlotte Perkins Gilman – The Yellow Wallpaper

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Over the next two days we will be reading the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A feminist, social reformer and novelist, Gilman based the story of “The Yellow Wallpaper” on her own experiences with depression and the popular 19th century ‘rest cure’. In her short story she examines the impact that this ‘cure’ has on the mental state of her female protagonist, and makes a clear statement against the control that a patriarchal society held over every aspect of women’s lives in the 19th century.

 

As we examine this text, remember to apply the lens of Feminist Criticism to your analysis. If you’ve forgotten how to do this, remember:

Feminist Criticism:  Feminist criticism is concerned with the impact of gender on writing and
reading. It usually begins with a critique of patriarchal culture. It is concerned with the place of female writers in the literary cannon. Finally, it includes a search for a feminine theory or approach to texts. Feminist criticism is political and often revisionist. Feminists often argue that male fears are portrayed through female characters. They may argue that gender determines everything, or just the opposite: that all gender differences are imposed by society, and gender determines nothing.

Advantages: Women have been underrepresented in the traditional cannon, and a feminist approach to literature attempts to redress this problem.

Disadvantages: Feminists turn literary criticism into a political battlefield and overlook the merits of works they consider “patriarchal.” When arguing for a distinct feminine writing style, they tend to relegate women’s literature to a ghetto status; this in turn prevents female literature from being naturally included in the literary cannon. The feminist approach is often too theoretical.

Checklist of Feminist Critical Questions:

  • To what extent does the representation of women (and men) in the work reflect the place and time in which the work was written?
  • How are the relationships between men and women or those between members of the same sex presented in the work?
  • What roles do men and women assume and perform and with what consequences?
  • Does the author present the work from within a predominantly male or female sensibility?
  • Why might this have been done, and with what effects?
  • How do the facts of the author’s life relate to the presentation of men and women in the work? To their relative degrees of power?
  • How do other works by the author correspond to this one in their depiction of the power relationships between men and women?

Please click here for access to Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2017

Paul Lawrence Dunbar – We Wear the Mask

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Paul Laurence Dunbar was an American poet, novelist, and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dunbar’s parents had both been slaves prior to the Civil War, and he was apart of the first group of African Americans to be born free and emancipated from slavery in the United States. His work focused on the dialect and language of the Southern slaves and African Americans, though he had a difficult time publishing this work. He wanted to record and preserve the language of the southern African Americans, as slaves had been kept illiterate, and he knew that this history would be lost. Eventually Dunbar would go on to write poems, stories and articles in standard forms, and would receive acclaim and praise for them.

 

In class we are analyzing Dunbar’s poem ‘We Wear The Mask’, and tracing how not only the tone of the poem shifts in each stanza, but also how the speaker feels about the ‘mask’ they where. Please be sure to analyze this poem thoroughly, and it will be on your test!

 

Click here to access Dunbar’s poem.

 

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2017

Arguments on Education: David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water”

As we continue to look into the topic of Education in America in order to answer our essential question ‘Do we provide an equal education to all citizens?’, we turn our attention to the prolific post-post-modern writer David Foster Wallace and his commencement address to the graduating class of 2005 at Kenyon College.

In this commencement speech Wallace addresses and poises a few questions for his readers/audience:

  • How do we understand the ‘real world’, if we only live it through our own immediate experiences and point of view, where we are the ‘center of the universe’?
  • How much of the task of adapting our world view actually involves or requires ‘higher education’?
  • How do you construct meaning from experience?
  • What is the difference between ‘teaching you how to think’ and ‘learning what to think about’?
  • What is the role of higher education in your everyday life?

Consider these questions as you read the speech, and prepare for a collegiate discussion of the text in class tomorrow.

 

The audio of this commencement speech is available on YouTube if you would like to hear Wallace deliver it himself. Additionally, I have included a link to the full version of the speech, as a few paragraphs were missing in our textbook’s abbreviated version.

Click here to access the full version of Wallace’s speech.

 

AP Language and Composition Spring 2017

Preparing for the AP Exam: Q3, The Argumentative Essay

We’ve reached the last essay in our preparation for the exam in May – rejoice! Q3, or the Argumentative Essay, is similar in form to Q1, The Synthesis Essay. You will be required to take a position on a topic – either defend, qualify or challenge – and support your argument with evidence. However, unlike the Synthesis Essay, College Board will not be giving you a packet of 8 sources to pull your information from. You must come to this essay with enough personal experience, observations from current events and real-world situations and knowledge of readings/texts, that you can cite reliable evidence off the top of your head.

For those of you that do not feel comfortable with current events or the scope of your literary background, you may want to spend some time between now and May reading, reading, reading. 

Before we dive into how to write the Argumentative Essay, watch the short video below that will help to explain the essay a bit more.

Now that you’ve watched the video, let’s look at the 2007 prompt:

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Notice the prompt is much shorter than the Synthesis Essay, though it follows the same basic format: pick a position, and argue that position.

For the Argumentative Essay we are going to use the ‘PRO’ method of pre-writing and brainstorm. This will ensure that you are writing a well-balanced argument, and that you use the required types of evidence.pro1

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If you were to do this for the 2007 prompt it would look something like this:

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You may use personal pronouns in this essay, however, you must be careful to maintain a mature authorial voice. If you’re not sure you can do this, I would try not to use the personal pronoun ‘I’ too often.

As you can see, the depth and maturity of your writing will depend on the PRO evidence you can provide – mature personal experiences, in-depth knowledge of relevant texts, and astute and applicable observations of the world around you. If you do not feel comfortable with aspects of your ability to ‘go PRO’ for this paper, please see me for suggested readings and activities you can do on your own to improve your chances of scoring a 3 or higher on the exam.

AP Language and Composition Spring 2016 Spring 2017