Defining America

Understanding ourselves and the world around us is critical.  As we begin our study of literature that is now distinctly American, understanding that we will encounter this question of belonging and acceptance time and time again is crucial.  In this unit, we will consider briefly the literary period of Transcendentalism as we bridge the gap between revolutionary literature and the Anti-Transcendentalism of Poe and Hawthorne.  The main text for this unit is Krakauer's Into the Wild, but you can expect other pieces of fiction and nonfiction while we attempt to define who we are and how we fit into our society.  We will also examine the ideas surrounding the development of literature that is distinctly American in a society trying to define itself after a revolution.  The links below contain material we will study throughout the course of this unit.

Into the Wild Resources

Buy Krakauer's Into the Wild

Into the Wild PDF (while you wait on yours to arrive)


"Civil Disobedience" (Thoreau)

"Self-Reliance" (Emerson)

"Mending Wall" Full Text (Frost)

"Tall Ambrosia" (Thoreau)

From Nature (Emerson)

From Walden (Thoreau)

Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart"

To Build a Fire (1908)

To Build a Fire (1902) Assignment

Activities + Terms

Defining America Activities


Into the Wild Centers Activity

The Man and McCandless Activity

Rhetorical Terms Set 3