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Stephen Foster

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Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions

1. (a) The song regards Southerners as ungrateful rebels who are trying unsuccessfully to split the North; it urges unity within the North and the upholding of existing law, by force if necessary. (b) The two positions may appear inconsistent. However, a number of northerners who favored the use of force to preserve the Union did so for reasons not connected to slavery.

2. Students should clearly connect the song with its historical context and should be able to explain to the class any unfamiliar words or images in the lyrics.

1. (a) Artists received no fees when others performed their songs; they couldn't track the sales of sheet music to determine whether they were being paid for all copies sold; they had no attorneys specializing in authors' rights; they earned nothing for other arrangers' settings of their songs, broadside printings of their lyrics, or other publishers' editions of their music. (b) It meant Foster wouldn't receive royalties from sales of the song; nor would he receive the publicity due him as the song's author. (c) It was unwise because it meant all future royalties would go to the company, not to Foster. Presumably he did it to meet shortterm needs for cash.

2. You may wish to advise students to consult the CNN special Web report on this issue.

1. (a) In both songs, the narrator recalls life in the South fondly; the South is now far away and the narrator misses it greatly. (b) As the film suggests, the fact that Foster's family was forced for financial reasons to leave their home when Foster was a child made Foster nostalgic for a lost home.

2. (a) They are Kentucky ("My Old Kentucky Home") and Florida ("Old Folks at Home.") (b) Students may consult the state government website for song information. They may wish to consult a directory of all 50 state songs.

1. (a) They objected to the songs' racist lyrics. (b) Students should defend their position. (c) Some students may argue that the two situations are essentially the same since both involve the public dissemination of potentially objectionable material. Other students may argue that a literature class (in which the objectionable elements of a work can be discussed) is an acceptable setting, while a concert (which is intended for entertainment and which does not normally provide opportunities for audience feedback) is not.

2. Possible choices include Franklin Roosevelt ("Happy Days Are Here Again"), Harry Truman ("I'm Just Wild About Harry"), and Bill Clinton ("Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow").

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