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K12ELA011: English Language Arts 11

Unit 9: Post-Modernism   World War II; inventions such as the radio, television, and computer; and Communism - what do all of these things have in common? They each played a role in the development of a new era in American history and literature-post-modernism. In this unit, we will examine textual artifacts of this period and attempt to identify some of the themes that both united and divided post-modern American authors. 

Unit 9 Time Advisory
Completing this unit should take approximately 19 hours and 15 minutes.

☐    Subunit 9.1: 15 minutes

☐    Subunit 9.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 9.3: 10 hours and 45 minutes

        ☐    Subunit 9.3.1: 1 hour and 45 minutes

        ☐    Subunit 9.3.2: 2 hours and 15 minutes

        ☐    Subunit 9.3.3: 6 hours

☐    Subunit 9.4: 5 hours and 30 minutes

Unit9 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- Identify and analyze the predominant themes in post-modern American literature.
  - Identify and analyze literary techniques used in the works of notable post-modern authors.

Standards Addressed (Common Core):
- CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.1 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.2 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.3 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.4 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.6 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.7 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 - 12.10 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RI.11 - 12.1 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RI.11 - 12.2 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RI.11 - 12.6 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RI.11 - 12.10 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.W.11 - 12.1 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.W.11 - 12.4 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.W.11 - 12.5 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.W.11 - 12.6 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.SL.11 - 12.2 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.L.11 - 12.1 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.L.11 - 12.2 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.L.11 - 12.3 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.L.11 - 12.4 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.L.11 - 12.5 - CCSS.ELA - Literacy.L.11 - 12.6

9.1 Literature of the 20th Century   As the United States emerged from the Great Depression, many individuals began to realize the American Dream by gaining wealth and prosperity. However, many authors of the day sought to bring light to the problems inherent with this newfound success, such as a lack of personal contentment and even issues with immorality. In this subunit, we will examine the works of one of the most notable authors of this period, Flannery O’Connor. 

  • Reading: US Department of State: Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s Outline of American Literature: “American Prose, 1945 - 1990: Realism and Experimentation” Link: US Department of State: Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s Outline of American Literature: “American Prose, 1945 - 1990: Realism and Experimentation”

    Instructions: Scroll down to the section entitled “The 1950s,” and read this selection to get an understanding of the context from which writers of this period developed their characters and plot lines.
     
    Reading this selection should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: EDSITEment!: Flannery O’Connor’s “‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’: Who’s the Real Misfit?” Link: EDSITEment!: Flannery O’Connor’s “‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’: Who’s the Real Misfit?”

    Instructions: Scroll down to “Activity 5: Humor v. ‘The Grotesque’.” Read the two short paragraphs describing others’ classification of O’Connor’s work as well as her own. Then, answer the five bulleted questions below.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.2 Flannery O’Connor   - Reading: HCPS Instructional Technology: “Meet Flannery O’Connor” Link: HCPS Instructional Technology: “Meet Flannery O’Connor”
 
Instructions: Watch the video to learn about Flannery O’Connor’s life and writing style.
 
Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Standards Addressed (Common Core):

-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.SL.11 -
    12.2](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/11-12/2)

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: EDSITEment!: “Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’: Who’s the Real Misfit?” Link: EDSITEment!: “Flannery O’Connor’s ‘A Good Man is Hard to Find’: Who’s the Real Misfit?”

    Instructions: Flannery O’ Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” is one of the most widely read and discussed short stories of the genre of post-modernism known as southern Gothic or southern grotesque. Before reading the story, read this introduction, which will provide you with some background information and insight into the author’s purpose.
     
    Reading this selection should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Open Culture: Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” Link: Open Culture: Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

    Instructions: Please listen to the podcast of Flannery O’Connor reading her own short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Scroll down, and click on the link to the full text to follow along with the text of the story as you listen.
     
    Listening to this podcast should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: Response on Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” Link: Open Culture: Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”
     
    Instructions: After reading and listening to the story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find,” write a one page response to the work, particularly the ending. Your paper may be conversational and informal and should include your emotional response to the plot and characters, rather than an analysis. Share your responses on your personal blog if you have one or on The Saylor Foundation’s discussion forum.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 30 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: Lit React: “(Short Story) ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’ by Flannery O’Connor” Link: Lit React: “(Short Story) ‘A Good Man Is Hard to Find’ by Flannery O’Connor”

    Instructions: Read the two reviews of Flannery O’Connor’s short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” Note how the author of the first review identified the Grandmother’s longing for the past as her fatal flaw. Note also how the second reviewer points out the Misfit’s inability to grasp the future (i.e., eternity) as the excuse for his amorality. Recall the events and dialogue of the story itself. How does the author play with the ideas of nostalgia and eternity as forms of distraction from the present moment? Write a paragraph or sketch a drawing illustrating your response. Share your response on your personal blog if you have one or on The Saylor Foundation’s discussion forum.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.3 Post-Modern Poetry   - Reading: US State Department: Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s Outline of American Literature: “American Poetry, 1945 - 1990: The Anti-Tradition” Link: US State Department: Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s Outline of American Literature: “American Poetry, 1945 - 1990: The Anti-Tradition”
 
Instructions: In this subunit, we will be reading a selection of poems written after 1945. Collectively, these poems are called post-modern poems. In order to understand more about the context and style of this genre of poetry, read the article (up to the section entitled “Experimental Poetry”) and take notes on the key figures, devices, and themes.
 
Reading this material and taking notes should take approximately 45 minutes.
 
Standards Addressed (Common Core):

-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 -
    12.10](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/10)

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

9.3.1 “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop   - Reading: Academy of American Poets: Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” Link: Academy of American Poets: Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish”

 Instructions: Read this narrative poem, paying particular attention
to how the speaker describes the fish. Why do you think she lets him
go?  
    
 Reading this poem should take approximately 15 minutes.  
    
 Standards Addressed (*Common Core*):  

-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 -
    12.3](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/3)
-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 -
    12.10](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/10)

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Activity: Humanities: Carol Frost’s “A Poet’s Inner Eye” Link: Humanities: Carol Frost’s “A Poet’s Inner Eye”

    Instructions: Read the article, which explores how the fish in Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Fish” came about. In Frost’s opinion, how do a poet’s experiences and imagination merge to create art? Write a one page response to this question, citing specific passages from the article.
     
    Reading this article and completing this activity should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: EDSITEment!: “Animating Poetry: Reading Poems about the Natural World - Worksheet 2 for Activity 4: Literary Device: Imagery” Link: EDSITEment!: “Animating Poetry: Reading Poems about the Natural World -Worksheet 2 for Activity 4: Literary Device: Imagery”

    Instructions: In the EDSITEment! lesson entitled “Animating Poetry: Reading Poems about the Natural World,” poetry devices such as imagery are referred to as magnifying glasses of sorts, which allow the author to give us a closer look at the objects illustrated in his or her poem. Use this worksheet to identify how Bishop uses her magnifying glass in “The Fish.” That is, follow the instructions on the worksheet to identify certain lines of the poem, the particular image each of them conveys, and the effect the image has on the reader.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.3.2 Robert Lowell   - Reading: University of Virginia: Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour” Link: University of Virginia: Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour”

 Instructions: Read the poem, and then reread it as necessary until
you feel that you have a cursory understanding of the poem’s overall
message.  
    
 Reading this poem should take approximately 30 minutes.  
    
 Standards Addressed (*Common Core*):  

-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.RL.11 -
    12.10](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/11-12/10)

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Modern American Poetry: “On ‘Skunk Hour’” Link: Modern American Poetry: “On ‘Skunk Hour’”

    Instructions: Read the various interpretations of “Skunk Hour.” Take note of the similarities and differences between these interpretations. Consider the ideas of each of the interpreters. Also, note the similarities in the structure of each interpretation. Observe how most of the interpretations guide the reader through the poem from beginning to end, discussing each stanza and pointing out shifts in tone and setting. Notice also how the interpretations cite specific lines from the poem as evidence for their views on the poem’s meaning.
     
    Reading this material should take approximately 45 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: Writing an Interpretation of “Skunk Hour” Link: Modern American Poetry: “On ‘Skunk Hour’”
     
    Instructions: Using the interpretations in the previous reading as an example, please write your own interpretation of “Skunk Hour.” Be sure to discuss each stanza in detail, making note of the author’s tone, transitions, and themes. Cite specific lines from the poem to support your ideas.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.3.3 Poems by Sylvia Plath   - Reading: SoundCloud: “Sylvia Plath Reads ‘A Birthday Present’” Link: SoundCloud: “Sylvia Plath Reads ‘A Birthday Present’”
 
Instructions: Just months before her suicide, Plath recorded herself reading her poem “A Birthday Present.” As you listen to this recording, think about the author’s perceptions of life, death, and what a birthday signifies.
 
Listening to this poem should take approximately 15 minutes.
 
Standards Addressed (Common Core):

-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.SL.11 -
    12.2](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/11-12/2)

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: Ajai Narendran’s “‘Mirror’ - Sylvia Plath” Link: Ajai Narendran’s “‘Mirror’ -Sylvia Plath”
     
    Instructions: Watch the video representation of the poem “Mirror” by Sylvia Plath. Notice that the poem is written from the perspective of the mirror. As you listen, think about why Plath chose this perspective and how it affects the impact of the poem.
     
    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Elyse Bouvier’s “‘Daddy’ - Read by Sylvia Plath” Link: Elyse Bouvier’s “‘Daddy’ - Read by Sylvia Plath”
     
    Instructions: Watch the video representation of the poem “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath. As you listen, pay attention to the metaphors Plath uses to describe her relationship with and feelings for her father.
     
    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: blogs de lettres: “‘The Applicant’ - Sylvia Plath” Link: blogs de lettres: “‘The Applicant’ - Sylvia Plath”
     
    Instructions: Watch the video representation of the poem “The Applicant” by Sylvia Plath. Scroll down and click on “Read More” to view the full text of the poem, and follow along as you listen. Take note of how the speaker feels about the institution of marriage and a woman’s role within it.
     
    Watching this video and taking notes should take approximately 15 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: Sylvia Plath’s Poems: Essay Assignment Link: blogs de lettres: “‘The Applicant’ - Sylvia Plath”

    Instructions: After listening to and watching video representations of a selection of Sylvia Plath’s poems, you should have a good grasp of the poet’s style and themes. Please write an essay in which you discuss how the author uses certain poetic devices such as imagery, simile, metaphor, and repetition, among others, to convey a certain theme or themes in her poems.
     
    You may need to replay the poems multiple times and consult a dictionary to look up unfamiliar words. Be sure that your essay has an introduction, body, and conclusion, and that you use the third person point of view and an objective tone when writing. Use the revision and editing techniques we discussed in previous units to create a final draft. You may use the poems we’ve covered in this unit as the basis for your essay or seek out other poems by Sylvia Plath.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 5 hours.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.4 Richard Wright’s *Black Boy*   - Reading: Community Audio: Richard Wright’s *Black Boy* Link: Community Audio: Richard Wright’s Black Boy

 Instructions: Read the introductory paragraph, which provides
background information on the author and the work. Then, listen to
all four parts of Richard Wright’s autobiographical novel, *Black
Boy*.  
    
 Listing to this novel should take approximately 3 hours.  
    
 Standards Addressed (*Common Core*):  

-   [CCSS.ELA - Literacy.SL.11 -
    12.2](http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/SL/11-12/2)

Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Explanation: Open Yale Courses: Amy Hungerford’s The American Novel Since 1945/ENGL 291: “Lecture 2 - Richard Wright, Black Boy Link: Open Yale Courses: Amy Hungerford’s The American Novel Since 1945/ENGL 291: “Lecture 2 -Richard Wright, Black Boy

    Instructions: Watch this lecture on Richard Wright’s Black Boy. Pay particular attention to Professor Amy Hungerford’s discussion of the style and themes of the book.
     
    Watching this lecture and taking notes should take approximately 1 hour.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Activity: Viterbo University: Young Adult Literature: Dr. Grant T. Smith’s “Black Boy - Discussion Questions” Link: Viterbo University: Young Adult Literature: Dr. Grant T. Smith’s “Black Boy - Discussion Questions”

    Instructions: Answer questions 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. Each of your responses should cite specific examples from the text to support your claims.
     
    Completing this activity should take approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
     
    Standards Addressed (Common Core):

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

9.5 Extension Resources   If any or all of the units you have studied in the course have ignited an interest in learning more, the following list will help you. It contains books and other resources you can use for further study. You will most likely be able to find many of these items in your local public library.

  • Reading: The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller Winner of the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Drama, The Death of a Salesman is a tragedy centered on main character Willy Loman, a frustrated salesman who obsesses over his own lack of success as well as the seeming failure of his sons. The play grapples with the definition of success and criticizes American materialism. 

  • Reading: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury Fahrenheit 451 is an example of dystopian literature written by famous American mystery writer Ray Bradbury. The book is set in the future in a society where books are outlawed and burned upon confiscation. The title of the book is derived from the temperature at which paper burns. 

  • Reading: Catch - 22 by Joseph Heller Often referred to as one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century, Catch - 22 is a satire on bureaucracy and the circular reasoning that often governs it. The now ubiquitous term “catch - 22” is derived from the title of the book and is used to describe a no-win situation. The novel is set during World War II and chronicles the experiences of a fictional Air Force bombardier, Captain John Yossarian. 

  • Reading: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee A well-known American classic, To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by young Scout Finch, whose father defends an African American man accused of raping a white woman. The novel explores many important themes such as racism, justice, and heroism. Although not an autobiography, the events of the novel are loosely based on the author’s own experiences growing up in Monroeville, Alabama. 

  • Reading: Beloved by Toni Morrison Beloved tells the story of main character Sethe, who attempts to escape slavery with her four children. The novel is based on the true life events of an African American slave named Margaret Garner. In 1988, Beloved received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and a decade later was adapted into a film starring Oprah Winfrey.