Gothic Undercurrents

Terror, mystery, excitement. American writers of the 19th century, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Emily Dickinson, used these elements to create morally ambiguous tales that challenged the prevailing belief in American manifest destiny. The stories in this unit are designed to question readers' assumptions of national character and are especially appropriate today.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Coordinate the unit with a language arts teacher
  • Stop the 28-minute video frequently to permit viewers to ask question, clarify understanding, and take notes
  • After showing the video, have viewers suggest topics they wish to investigate in greater detail during the unit
Classroom Considerations

  • The esoteric nature of much of the narration makes the resource most appropriate for AP level classes
  • Preview the entire unit and the video to determine the materials appropriate for your classes
  • Designed to be used with the Norton Anthology of American Literature; however, the unit can be adapted to use without access to that text
Pros

  • The 36-page packet includes extensive background notes on the authors, teaching tips, comprehension questions, and a timeline
Cons

  • None