Learning check

1. Written assignment

a) Choose to be a specific present-day Danish politician and write a letter to the editor of the New York Times about your view of what the ideal Danish citizen is like (150 words);         


Find information about the New York Times and read examples of letters to the editor on the website www.nytimes.com 


Helpful links for writing your own letter to the editor:


The New York Times writer’s guidelines for letters to the editor: 



New York Times letters editor, Thomas Feyer, provides detailed answers to questions about what kinds of letters get published: www.nytimes.com/2004/05/23/opinion/23READ.html?ex=1141189200&en=1fd8b7f8078f4183


NB: You may need to set up a user name and password to access the New York Times archives.




b) Write an ironic poem about the present-day ideal Danish citizen (same length as Auden’s poem).


In either assignment you must use four keywords from Auden’s poem. 


Wider contexts

1. Historical context: relate the theme of the poem to the time it was written in

The poem was written in 1939. Try to relate the theme of the poem and the mentioning of eugenics in the poem to the political situation in Europe at the time. You can read about eugenics on Wikipedia or here http://www.faqs.org/health/topics/45/Eugenics.html.


Wider contexts

2. Autobiographical context: Find more information about Auden

    Find more information about Auden, especially his sexuality.  Is it at all relevant?  

Wider contexts

3. Literary Context: other work by the same author, "Stop All the Clocks"

Compare “The Unknown Citizen” and Auden’s poem “Stop All the Clocks” on page 95. You may focus on language and imagery, structure and form, and/or attitudes and ideas.


Wider contexts

4. Literary context: other work by a different author, George Orwell

Find information about George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Are there any similarities between the two texts in the way society looks upon individuality and conformity?


Wider contexts

5. Literary context: other work by a different author, William Blake, “London”

Read William Blake’s poem “London” on p. 214 and discuss whether we find the same clanks of the “mind-forged manacles” in the two poems.