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Three Mysterious American Writers: Comparison and Contrast

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Visual Arts +1 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection includes paintings of Harold Hart Crane, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman that are blurry or undefined, and three photographs to show the actual appearance of these writers. In this student activity, students will be asked to look at the photographs and paintings of these American authors and form hypotheses to explain why the artists chose to blur them.  Students  will explore the commonalities and differences between the  paintings and photographs and use textual information or research to confirm their hypotheses. 

Hart Crane: Known for his poetry, he struggled financially and personally throughout his short life. See more information in the description box. 

Edgar Allan Poe: A poet and story writer of great originality, Poe suffered great poverty as one of the first Americans to try to make a living only as a writer. See more information in the description box. 

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A feminist and social pioneer, Gilman also wrote stories, novels, and poetry. For more information on Gilman, see https://www.radcliffe.harvard....

1. What commonalities and differences do the paintings have? Create a list.

2. What emotions do these commonalities and differences provoke?

3. How do emotions affect the way one perceives an image? Compare and contrast the artworks with their photographic portraits. 

5. What information do photographs provide to deepen understanding of the paintings? 

Tags: poets; authors; mystery; creative writing; memoir; poetry; experimental writing.

Harold Hart Crane

National Portrait Gallery

Portrait of Edgar Allan Poe

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Edgar Allan Poe

National Portrait Gallery

Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman

National Portrait Gallery