American Masters

Expand/Collapse American Masters


American Masters, public television’s award-winning biography series, brings unique originality and perspective to exploring the lives and illuminating the creative journeys of our most enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists and filmmakers – those who have left an indelible impression on our nation’s cultural landscape. This collection offers you access to classroom-ready videos and articles drawn from the Series broadcasts and website.

  • Timeline: 3 Days in NYC with Holden Caulfield

    The Catcher in the Rye? See New York City through Holden Caulfield's eyes in the timeline 3 Days in NYC with Holden Caulfield


    Grades: 9-12
  • Cultural Phenomenon

    In this video from American Masters: Salinger, students learn about the enormous cultural impact of The Catcher in the Rye and the media frenzy that surrounded J.D. Salinger in the early 1960s. The accompanying materials contain a background essay, that includes an expert from the original book flap written by Salinger, discussion questions, and teaching tips.

    Grades: 9-12
  • A Good Book, Not Just a Bestseller

    This video from American Masters: Salinger examines Salinger’s purpose for writing The Catcher in the Rye and how, by inhabiting his character, he was able to find a compelling authorial voice that allowed him to channel his critique of the adult world.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Salinger and His Critics

    After the publication of Franny and Zooey in 1961 and Raise High The Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction in 1963, J.D. Salinger’s appeal appeared to be on the decline as literary critics pointed out the shortcomings of his writing. John Updike said “Salinger loved his characters more than God loved them” while Gore Vidal spoke of the Glass family as “this ghastly, self-observant family, going on and on and on about everything of importance to them, which they assume is important to all the world.”

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Reception of The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye almost did not get published. This video from American Masters: Salinger reveals several editors' reservations about the novel that led to the initial rejection of the publication of The Catcher in the Rye. In 1951, The Catcher in the Rye was published to mixed critical reception, but it resonated deeply with many readers and gained overnight success worldwide.

    Grades: 8-13+
  • The Role of Vedanta Hinduism in Salinger’s Writing

    In the 1940s, J.D. Salinger began to live his life based on the tenets of Vedanta Hinduism. This series of videos from American Masters: Salinger explains the key teachings of Vedanta Hinduism and highlights the central role it played in Salinger’s life and writing.

     

    Grades: 9-12
  • There Had Never Been a Voice Like That

    This video from American Masters: Salinger features writers, cultural critics, academics, actors, and friends of J.D. Salinger discussing the importance of The Catcher in the Rye and its lasting impact on American thought and culture.

     

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Impact of WWII on J.D. Salinger

    This media gallery features a series of videos from American Masters: Salinger that explores the impact WWII, and its horrors, had on J.D. Salinger. Students will examine his landing on Utah Beach on D-Day, his experiences battling his way across France, the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi death camp his regiment liberated, the eventual breakdown he suffered, and how these experiences impacted his work as an artist.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Path to "The Catcher in the Rye"

    In 1951, J.D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye, a debut novel that became one of the best known works in American literature. The book's beloved anti-hero, Holden Caulfield, had been making appearances in Salinger's writing since 1941. Use this poster to follow the milestones in Salinger's career that led to his most famous book.

    Grades: 8-12
  • J.D. Salinger: The Early Years

    This media gallery from American Masters: Salinger features a series of videos that explores how Salinger felt about his writing, his struggle to be published in The New Yorker magazine, and how Holden Caulfield was a reflection of his own life. The associated materials include a background essay, discussion questions and a student activity.

    Grades: 9-12

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