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Uncle Sam's Dinner

Laptop Day (Part 1 of 2): Finding Historical Sources

How did we see ourselves in the 19th century?

The purpose of this exercise is to gain insight into how people in the nineteenth century saw themselves and the world around them. Toward this end, we'll look at advertising, political cartoons, films, short pieces like jokes or editorials, or other pieces that reveal the temper of the times, or listen to music that reveals something of the culture. You could also look up an author we are studying (Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, etc.). We will look at more specific questions in Part 2, "Laptop Empire," during the next class period. You can find the worksheet for that here: http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/engl372/laptopempire.htm.


1. In a group, possibly your blog group, find resources that relate to your topic. The only requirement is that they be from the 19th or early 20th century, not reinterpretations. Some suggested resources are below, but you're also welcome to find your own.

2. Sign up for one of the topics below or devise your own; this list will be posted to our course blog so we'll all know what you're discussing.


1. Find some pertinent resources (at least 3-4) so that you can get a good sample of the ideas, although you can choose one representative item to discuss with the class. Keep track of the links, since you'll want them for your blog post. Content Warning: Depending on the topic, you may encounter materials that are racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, or otherwise disturbing to you, with some topics including more of these materials than others. Choose another topic if you think this would be unduly disturbing to you. You may choose not to display these items to the class but may want to discuss their significance within your groups.

2. Discuss these in your group and present your findings to the class.

3. Write up your results as tonight's blog post, unless you've already posted/planned to post on another topic.

Topics: What issues surrounded these topics or authors? Remember, your group can choose its own topic as long as that topic says something about how 19th-century people saw themselves.

General Resources (more available at http://public.wsu.edu/~campbelld/amlit/sites.htm) These are just a place to start; please find your own and link to them in your blog post so that we can share them.

Films and Music: