Photograph of Zora Neale Hurston.

American Masters: Zora Neale Hurston

American Masters' "Zora Neale Hurston: Jump at the Sun"  offers an introduction to the writer many consider the pre-eminent African American woman novelist of her generation. The American Masters website provides a career timeline, photographs, and additional footage from the film. An important letter from Hurston to the poet Countee Cullen on race relations in America is also included as are links to related websites. 

American Studies at the University of Virginia

The site is a repository of scholarly concentrations on such humanities topics as the 1930s, cultural maps, American literature, avant-garde and postmodern art exhibitions, and the U.S. Capitol building as an American icon. The site houses hypertexts of several American authors, including: Harriet Jacobs, Herman Melville, Mark Twain, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

  • Interactive: Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

    Created February 23, 2010
  • Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart: Teaching Through the Novel

    Created February 19, 2010
    Things Fall Apart books

    This lesson introduces students to Achebe's first novel and to his views on the role of the writer in his or her society.

  • Folklore in Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God"

    Photograph of Zora Neale Hurston.

    Learn how writer Zora Neale Hurston incorporated and transformed black folklife in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. By exploring Hurston’s own life history and collection methods, listening to her WPA recordings of folksongs and folktales, and comparing transcribed folk narrative texts with the plot and themes of the novel, students will learn about the crucial role of oral folklore in Hurston’s written work.

  • Metaphorical Gold: Mining the Gold Rush for Stories

    Bound for the Klondike gold fields. Chilkoot Pass, Alaska.

    Explore the Alaskan Gold Rush by "mining" EDSITEment resources for primary texts and period photographs. Just as writer Jack London discovered "metaphorical gold" in the Yukon, students can search several online databases for period details that will enhance their own narratives based on the Gold Rush era.

  • Critical Ways of Seeing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in Context

    Depiction of Huckleberry Finn on 1917 sheet music cover

    By studying Mark Twain's novel, Huckleberry Finn, and its critics with a focus on cultural context, students will develop essential analytical tools for navigating this text and for exploring controversies that surround this quintessential American novel.

  • Esperanza Rising: Learning Not to Be Afraid to Start Over

    Mexican woman farm laborer picking tomatoes in a California field, 1938.

    In this lesson students will look behind the story at the historical, social, and cultural circumstances that help account for the great contrasts and contradictions that Esperanza experiences when she moves to California. The lesson also invites students to contemplate some of the changes Esperanza undergoes as she grows from a pampered child into a resourceful and responsible young woman.

  • To Kill A Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Boys Trial: Profiles in Courage

    The Scottsboro Boys with their lawyer and guards (UPI photo, March, 1933).

    Students study select court transcripts and other primary source material from the second Scottsboro Boys Trial of 1933, a continuation of the first trial in which two young white women wrongfully accused nine African-American youths of rape.

  • Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird": Profiles in Courage

    To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee and Mary Badham

    This lesson plan asks students to read To Kill A Mockingbird carefully with an eye for all instances and manifestations of courage, but particularly those of moral courage.