Країнознавство США ІІ семестр - Плани-конспекти уроків - Ю. Г. Горбунова 2016

Дидактичні матеріали до спецкурсу «Країнознавство США». Плани-конспекти уроків
Practical training «American Literature»

Aims and objectives:

- to practise vocabulary and grammar;

- to develop skills in reading and speaking;

- to expand students' knowledge about American literature.



Greeting. Introducing the topic

T. Good morning! Today we’re going to work on the topic «American Literature».

Warm up

Task 1. Answer the questions.

1. What is the role of books?

2. How can literature influence people’s life?

3. What famous American writers can you name?

4. Do you read contemporary American writers?


Reading and speaking

Task 2. Read the text.

Although we live in a technological age, where we are continually bombarded with sounds and images from every angle, books still shape our society. It has been so for centuries; the great thinkers of humanity put their ideas into writing for the benefit of all. And America has produced great artists whose musings are still studied today. Let’s explore the top 5 most influential American writers.

Number 5. Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Upon studying his biography, it doesn’t seem like Walter Whitman was destined to become one of the most celebrated American poets in history. After minimal schooling, he studied the printing trade, became a schoolteacher, and finally founded a weekly newspaper in his Long Island domicile — all before the age of 20. He later worked as a journalist for a number of different newspapers throughout the country.

Calling himself the «poet of the people», he published his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855. The publication was revolutionary: the poems groundbreaking in their use of everyday language to describe the beauty of life and American society. He didn’t care that his poetry didn’t rhyme or contain sexual references. He constantly edited and published new versions of the book, changing poems to suit his current mood, and he also shared his thoughts on the Civil War in Specimen Days & Collect.

Famous work: «I Sing the Body Electric», from Leaves of Grass.

Famous excerpt: «The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them. They will not let me off till I go with them, respond to them».

Number 4. William Faulkner (1897-1962)

Faulkner was fortunate enough to have parents who encouraged their children to read. Still, young William dropped out of high school during his sophomore year to write poetry. When his high school sweetheart married another man, he fled Mississippi and joined the British Royal Flying Corps in Canada, although he never got to fight in World War I. Back from the military, a friend funded the publication of his book of poems and he published a novel two years later.

Finally reunited with the woman he loved in 1929, Faulkner completed his innovative masterpiece, The Sound and the Fury, which opened with the interior monologue of a mentally challenged mute. Going even further, his next novel, As I Lay Dying, contained 59 interior monologues. Since his books — Light in August and Absalom, Absalom among them — were difficult for the masses to digest, despite the universal Southern Gothic themes, he wrote movies for Hollywood, most notably the Humphrey Bogart vehicle The Big Sleep. Nonetheless, he did win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1949.

Famous work: The Sound and the Fury.

Famous excerpt: «The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools».

Number 3. Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Samuel Langhorne Clemens is the name on Twain’s birth certificate, while his date of birth reads November 30th. While growing up in Florida, Missouri, he was offered a writing job at a young age; but after being disappointed by the work, decided to become a steamboat captain instead. Following a miserable bout in the Confederate Army, he took up humorous writing once more, this time using the pseudonym «Mark Twain», a nautical term.

He traveled the world for different newspapers, sending in amusing reports of his adventures. He then turned to writing short stories and finally novels in which he explored human nature, always in an entertaining manner like he did with The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twain gained recognition with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by painting the pre-Civil War South as a place where there was indeed racism, contradicting widespread reports of the time. Twain’s work easily translates onto the big screen; his novels were adapted in one form or another over 70 times.

Famous work: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Famous excerpt: «It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another».

Number 2. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

This Boston native grew up in Richmond, Virginia, with his wealthy foster parents, the Allans. But upon reaching his teens, Poe and the Allans grew apart, apparently due to his passion for writing. Penniless, Poe published some poems after having joined the Army. A sergeant major, and the author of classics such as The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Man That Was Used Up, Poe was accepted to West Point; but decided to leave the military for Baltimore, where he started contributing to magazines.

At 27, he married his 13-year-old cousin, and took up drinking, as his writing wasn’t taking him where he wanted to go. Constantly on the brink of panic, his health deteriorated but he still managed to write first-rate poems depicting the darkest side of the human experience. His popularity, which he mostly achieved after his death, stems from his pessimistic outlook on life and his ability to turn it into art. He is the only poet to have an NFL team named after one of his works.

Famous work: The Raven.

Famous excerpt: «Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary / Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore / While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping / As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door».

Number 1. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Ernest Hemingway dreamed of adventure ever since a very young age. After high school, he tried to enlist in the Army to fight in World War I but had to settle for being an ambulance driver on account of a defective eye. He later kept busy with war correspondence in the Spanish Civil War and World War II, bullfighting in Spain, and deep-sea fishing off Cuba. In between those thrill-seeking activities, Hemingway wrote the novels that would make him a legend.

Living with other American expatriates in Paris, he wrote about his carefree adventures, giving the world novels like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. A philandering alcoholic, his prose was undeviating and blunt, a style no one had yet dared to try. To date, there have been over 30 screen adaptations of his work and Hemingway has been portrayed in a number of movies. A Nobel Prize laureate, he’s the quintessential figurehead of machismo.

Famous work: The Old Man and the Sea.

Famous excerpt: «There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only one you».

Task 3. Match.

1. Walt Whitman

a) was an American author and humorist. He is most noted for his novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called «the Great American Novel»

2. William Faulkner

b) was an American author, poet, editor and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, he was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective-fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career

3. Mark Twain

c) was an American poet, essayist and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. He is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time

4. Edgar Allan Poe

d) was an American author and journalist. His distinctive writing style, characterized by economy and understatement, influenced 20th century fiction, as did his life of adventure and public image. He produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid- 1950s. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. His fiction was successful because the characters he presented exhibited authenticity that resonated with his audience. Many of his works are classics of American literature. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works during his lifetime; a further three novels, four collections of short stories, and three non-fiction works were published posthumously

5. Ernest Hemingway

e) was an American writer of novels, short stories, poetry and occasional screenplays. The majority of his works are based in his native state of Mississippi. He is considered one of the most important writers of the Southern literature of the United States

Task 4. Agree or disagree. Expound the point of view given in the statement or prove that it is false.

1. Walter Whitman is one of the most celebrated American poets in history.

2. Walter Whitman founded a daily newspaper.

3. In his first edition of Leaves of Grass he described the darkest side of the human experience.

4. William Faulkner fought in World War I.

5. William Faulkner called himself the «poet of the people».

6. He wrote movies for Hollywood.

7. Mark Twain has never been disappointed by the work.

8. In his short stories and novels Mark Twain explored human nature, always in an entertaining manner.

9. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn he painted the pre-Civil War South as a place where there was no racism.

10. Edgar Allan Poe grew up with his wealthy foster parents, the Allans.

11. Edgar Allan Poe achieved his popularity mostly after his death.

12. He had an optimistic outlook on life.

13. Ernest Hemingway dreamed of writing novels ever since a very young age.

14. His prose was undeviating and blunt.

15. He is the only writer to have an NFL team named after one of his works.

Task 5. Read and discuss the famous excerpts of these influential American writers.

Reading and vocabulary

Task 6. Translate the following word combinations from English into Ukrainian. Use these word combinations to make up your sentences.

1. to suit changing conditions of the national life

2) «poetry slams»

3) paperback best-sellers

4) murder mysteries

5) to blur the distinction

6) to make into a movie

7) to emphasize the individuality of choices

8) the phenomenon of post-feminism

9) to explore conflicts

10) to mine rich veins

11) to explore social issues on stage

12) consider general developments

Task 7. Read the text, divide it into logical parts.

Suggest appropriate title for each part.


The United States is one of the most diverse nations in the world. Its dynamic population of about 300 million boasts more than 30 million foreign-born individuals who speak numerous languages and dialects. Some one million new immigrants arrive each year, many from Asia and Latin America.

Literature in the United States today is likewise dazzlingly diverse, exciting, and evolving. New voices have arisen from many quarters, challenging old ideas and adapting literary traditions to suit changing conditions of the national life. Social and economic advances have enabled previously underrepresented groups to express themselves more fully, while technological innovations have created a fast-moving public forum. Reading clubs proliferate, and book fairs, literary festivals, and «poetry slams» (events where youthful poets compete in performing their poetry) attract enthusiastic audiences. Selection of a new work for a book club can launch an unknown writer into the limelight overnight.

On a typical Sunday the list of best-selling books in the New York Times Book Review testifies to the extraordinary diversity of the current American literary scene. In January, 2006, for example, the list of paperback best-sellers included «genre» fiction — steamy romances by Nora Roberts, a new thriller by John Grisham, murder mysteries — alongside nonfiction science books by the anthropologist Jared Diamond, popular sociology by The New Yorker magazine writer Malcolm Gladwell, and accounts of drug rehabilitation and crime. In the last category was a reprint of Truman Capote’s groundbreaking In Cold Blood, a 1965 «nonfiction novel» that blurs the distinction between high literature and journalism and had recently been made into a film.

Books by non-American authors and books on international themes were also prominent on the list. Afghan-American Khaled Hosseini’s searing novel, The Kite Runner, tells of childhood friends in Kabul separated by the rule of the Taliban, while Azar Nafisi’s memoir, Reading Lolita in Teheran, poignantly recalls teaching great works of Western literature to young women in Iran. A third novel, Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha (made into a movie), recounts a Japanese woman’s life during World War II.

In addition, the best-seller list reveals the popularity of religious themes. According to Publishers Weekly, 2001 was the first year that Christian-themed books topped the sales lists in both fiction and nonfiction. Among the hardcover best-sellers of that exemplary Sunday in 2006, we find Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code and Anne Rice’s tale Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

Beyond the Times’ best-seller list, chain bookstores offer separate sections for major religions including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and sometimes Hinduism.

In the Women’s Literature section of bookstores one finds works by a «Third Wave» of feminists, a movement that usually refers to young women in their 20s and 30s who have grown up in an era of widely accepted social equality in the United States. Third Wave feminists feel sufficiently empowered to emphasize the individuality of choices women make. Often associated in the popular mind with a return to tradition and child-rearing, lipstick, and «feminine» styles, these young women have reclaimed the word «girl» — some decline to call themselves feminist. What is often called «chick lit» is a flourishing offshoot. Bridget Jones’s Diary by the British writer Helen Fielding and Candace Bushnell’s Sex and the City featuring urban single women with romance in mind have spawned a popular genre among young women.

Nonfiction writers also examine the phenomenon of post-feminism. The Mommy Myth (2004) by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels analyzes the role of the media in the «mommy wars», while Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards’ lively Manifest A Young Women, Feminism, and the Future (2000) discusses women’s activism in the age of the Internet. Caitlin Flanagan, a magazine writer who calls herself an «anti-feminist», explores conflicts between domestic life and professional life for women. Her 2004 essay in The Atlantic, «How Serfdom Saved the Women’s Movement», an account of how professional women depend on immigrant women of a lower class for their childcare, triggered an enormous debate.

It is clear that American literature at the turn of the 21st century has become democratic and heterogeneous. Regionalism has flowered, and international, or «global», writers refract U.S. culture through foreign perspectives. Multiethnic writing continues to mine rich veins, and as each ethnic literature matures, it creates its own traditions. Creative nonfiction and memoir have flourished. The short story genre has gained luster, and the «short» short story has taken root. A new generation of playwrights continues the American tradition of exploring current social issues on stage. There is not space here in this brief survey to do justice to the glittering diversity of American literature today. Instead, one must consider general developments and representative figures.

Task 8. Find the correspondences between the adjectives and nouns and make up sentences using them.

1) diverse

a) advances

2) evolving

b) innovations

3) literary

c) traditions

4) economic

d) audiences

5) technological

e) offshoot

6) social

f) nations

7) enthusiastic

g) life

8) flourishing

h) story

9) short

i) equality

10) domestic

j) literature

Task 9. Make up questions to cover the plot of the text and let your classmates answer them.



Task 10. Answer the questions.

1. What are the most prominent American writers?

2. What contemporary American writers can you name?

3. What do you prefer: classical American literature or contemporary literature? Why?

Home assignment

1. Make your own list of top 10 American writers.

2. Choose a famous excerpt of one of the influential American writers and expound the point of view given in it.

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