WEEK SEVEN: Days One, Two, ThreeUnit Theme:
The Revolutionary Period
Two prevalent themes continue: (1) Preoccupation with the meaning of America; (2) Self-transformation and its arising conflict with the demands of society.
1. The basic literary and philosophical ideals of the Enlightenment, especially in contrast to Puritanism
2. America's rapid cultural growth
3. Benjamin Franklin's rise from poverty and obscurity, his scheme for achieving moral perfection, and his standing as a representative American
4. Rhetorical elements in the writing of Franklin, Henry, Jefferson, and Paine.
What principles and beliefs are evident in the Revolutionary literature?
How can I use persuasion effectively?
What are the connections between the literature from this unit and American society today?
A. The teacher will present a series of multimedia presentations about the Age of Reason (1750 through 1800) that emphasize the following:
- Historical context (1750 - 1800)
- The waning of Puritanism
- American Revolution
- Growth of patriotism
- Development of American character and democracy
- Use of reason as opposed to faith alone
- Genre/Style: political tracts, pamphlets, essays, travel writing, speeches, documents
- Style that is instructive in values and/or highly ornate writing style
- Literary elements: first-person point of view, allusion, personification, aphorism
B. The teacher will present two DVDs for background to discussions: Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World, Common Sense: Bestseller, Patrick Henry: Voice of Liberty.
C. Students will read pages 57 - 69 in the text and be able to discuss Benjamin Franklin as “An Eighteenth Century Writer” who
• Contributes to the creation of an American national identity distinct from England
• Supports the shift from an otherworldly (inner life) to a this-worldly (outer life) point of view
• Maintains that theory should be tested primarily by experience not logic (i.e., reason should be tested pragmatically)
• Attempts to recreate himself and his career as the archetypal American success story.
D. Students will be able to contrast the autobiographical work of the Puritans with that of Benjamin Franklin.
“While Puritan spiritual autobiographies emphasize their authors’ dependence upon God for grace and salvation and their inability to achieve virtue without grace, Franklin focuses on his own efforts to learn what is virtuous in this world and to put his discoveries to use in his life. Franklin retains the puritan concern for self-improvement but removes its otherworldly focus.”
• Jonathan Edwards: attempts to understand this world in the light of Puritan assumptions about God and His divine plan for humanity
• Benjamin Franklin: focuses on this world, largely ignores the next, and sees morality and experience as more important than faith.
E. Students will read in the text about Thomas Paine and from The Crisis, Number 1, pages 74 - 76. Students will then answer questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 under "For Study and Discussion."
F. Students will read in the text about Patrick Henry and his "Speech in the Virginia Convention," pages 70 - 72. Students will then answer questions 1, 2, and 3 under "For Study and Discussion."