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The American Imagination: Moby Dick, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Transcendentalists

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

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The Age of American Romanticism, which ran from roughly 1800 to the beginning of the Civil War, was a time when American writers flourished creatively. During this time authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville wrote their greatest works, leaving their mark on American literature forever. During the same time Transcendentalists, who emphasized the individual and a deep appreciation of nature, pioneered American philosophy. On this page you will find resources for teaching great classics along with the history of this time period.

THE WHALING INDUSTRY Almost as fascinating as reading Moby Dick is the the Whaling industry that forms the background of the novel. This worksheet gives a basic overview of 19th century whaling.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (BOOK RECOMMENDATION) Very few non-fiction books have grabbed my attention like Nathaniel Philbrick's masterful account of the Whaleship Essex, the event that inspired Moby Dick. To read more about this phenomenal real-life nightmare, click here to be taken to its page.

MOBY DICK MID-NOVEL DISCUSSION PRESENTATION  This presentation asks students to analyze the larger themes of Moby Dick when they have read approximately half of the story.

MOBY DICK END-OF-NOVEL DISCUSSION QUESTIONS Asking students to answer these questions at the end of Moby Dick will allow them to analyze the events of the story.

MOBY DICK SCRIPT-STORY COLLECTION (SALE ITEM)  In this under-taught classic, a sailor named Ishmael goes on the voyage of a lifetime. Although the tale works well as an adventure story, it is the deeper questions of life, the universe, and everything lying beneath the surface that make Moby Dick a novel for all-time. To read the first script-story for free, click here for Moby Dick: Part I.


FEATHERTOP SCRIPT-STORY This free download is an adaptation of Hawthorne's fairy-tale-esque story about a phony gentleman created from a pumpkin and sticks by a witch.

"WHY WE LOVE GHOST STORIES" ARTICLE This article explores the reasons we all enjoy a good scary story. This serves as a good conversation-started before you begin an Edgar Allan Poe unit.

EDGAR ALLAN POE BIOGRAPHY  This worksheet gives all the melancholy details of the famous author's life.

"ANNABEL LEE" Cryptic, lyrical, and haunting, Poe's famous poem is a ghoulish treat.

"THE BLACK CAT" SCRIPT-STORY Students can act out this classic tale of terror and suspense featuring a homicidal husband and a supernatural cat.

GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION OF "ANNABEL LEE" This comic by artist Julian Peters does an excellent job of translating Poe's masterpiece into a graphic novel style. I use this side-by-side with the original poem and compare the different interpretations. Note:  Peters has several comic adaptations of famous poems that are showcased on his website! You can find his website here:

EDGAR ALLAN POE SCRIPT-STORY COLLECTION This collection features dramatizations of four of Poe's best tales, including "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Raven," and "The Black Cat." Three of these stories are bundled in the textbook Searching America, Volume Three: The American Imagination.

"LIGEIA" BY EDGAR ALLAN POE One of Poe's underrated tales of terrors, once again Poe returns to the pain of losing a loved one. The narrator's new wife begins to resemble the old one.

"HOPFROG" BY EDGAR ALLAN POE Taking dark and disturbing to a whole new level, this short story of Poe's is medieval mayhem at its finest.

"FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER" LANGUAGE ANALYSIS WORKSHEET Use this assignment in conjunction with our Reader's Theater script-story version of "The Fall of the House of Usher" available in the store website. Analyze a passage from the famous story to see how Poe creates his "unity of effect."

"THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS" SCRIPT-STORY Is nature dark and scary? Or a place for quiet contemplation? This stand-alone play features the Romantic authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe as they insult the philosophy of the Transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Also popping up for cameos are Emily Dickinson and John Muir, the father of our National Parks. For a FREE PREVIEW CLICK HERE


MOBY DICK SCRIPT-STORY COLLECTION Don't be fooled into thinking Moby Dick, one of American Literature's greatest works, is too lofty for students to understand. Using this collection of six script-stories, your students can experience the Pequod's mythical voyage as it hunts for the monster whale, Moby Dick. My students consistently rank this as one of their favorite unit of the year. Don't miss the boat!

The Raven Script-Story CollectionEDGAR ALLAN POE SCRIPT-STORY COLLECTION  Bring Poe's eerie vibe to life in your classroom with this collection of four script-stories. "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "The Raven," and "The Black Cat" are dramatized, featuring reading parts for multiple readers. Use these scripts in conjunction with the actual story to increase comprehension.

 THE SCARLET LETTER SCRIPT-STORY COLLECTION  Nathaniel Hawthorne's tale of forgiveness, guilt, and revenge is a timeless tale. Its message is one that still resonates with youth today. This collection of four script-stories is included in Searching for America: Volume I. 


AMERICAN LITERATURE POSTERS I know from personal experience how hard it is to get students excited about classic American Literature. After years of searching for eye-catching, interest-piquing posters, I decided to create my own. This collection of 13 posters (11 X 14" each) also includes FREE SHIPPING!