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Pathway of Brooklyn Bridge, N.Y.

[Detail] Pathway of Brooklyn Bridge, N.Y.

Lesson Overview

To better understand the United States at the end of the nineteenth century, this interdisciplinary lesson integrates analyzing historical primary resources with literary analysis. Students work in groups and express themselves creatively through a multi-media epic poem.

The artistic models for the students' multi-media epic poem are Walt Whitman's Song of Myself (1855) and Hart Crane's The Bridge (1930). These epic poets capture, interpret, and give meaning to their particular times and places. Students look to do the same with the year 1900, relying upon relevant primary resources — sound recordings, images, text — and their own creative and interpretative voices.


Students will:

  • identify and interpret primary source documents within a historical context;
  • evaluate and appreciate the dynamic nature of life in the United States in a time of transition;
  • recognize and then employ poetic skills: line, metaphor, symbol, image, form, meter, and other stylistic considerations; and
  • integrate creative writing, historical analysis, and technology.


Time Required

  • Six to eight weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 9-12


  • American History
  • Arts & Culture


  • Rise of Industrial America
  • Progressive Era to New Era


Chris Beckmann and David Gehler