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Grade 7 English Curriculum 

THREADS OF CHANGE IN NINETEENTH CENTURY AMERICAN LITERATURE

Introduction
This unit explores five themes or threads of change in nineteenth century American history through literature of the times: romanticism, transcendentalism, abolitionism, industrialism, and feminism. Each of the five "isms" has its own "literature box'' that contains appropriate documents to serve as a resource for small investigative teams of students. The "isms" are investigated as change agents in American life through the study of key writings of the period, including the works of Hawthorne, Melville, Thoreau, and Emerson. Students produce both written and oral presentations of their research.

Rationale
This unit is intended to expose students to the highest quality literature of 19th century America through the study of significant influences and movements of that period: romanticism, transcendentalism, feminism, industrialism, and abolitionism. Speeches, essays, short stories, poems, and novels have been selected to illustrate the principles of those five influences on the thinking of writers of the time. Writing assignments, oral communication, and language study evolve from an understanding of key works of the period. Students also explore an issue of significance from this literary period.

The nineteenth century provides a rich and important literary landscape to study. Short stories gave form and meaning to nineteenth century American literature for the first time through the works of Poe and Hawthorne. A unique form of American poetry was developed by Dickinson, and the earliest known American work about the underclass was written by Rebecca Harding Davis. The novels of Hawthorne, Melville, and Twain gained an international reputation.

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