Guide for teaching


The following two guides offer strategies for introducing works of art that treat issues of American and national identity into the American history classroom.


Wilderness, settlement, and the forming of an American identity (Thomas Cole, The Hunter’s Return)

Thomas Cole, The Hunter’s Return, 1845, oil on canvas (Amon Carter Museum of American Art)

Thomas Cole’s The Hunter’s Return (1845) will be valuable for the study of:

  • American and national identity and the American landscape
  • Pre-Civil War American history
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Industrialization in the mid-nineteenth century
  • Transcendentalism
  • The Hudson River School
  • American Romanticism


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Identity, Civil Rights, and the American flag (Benny Andrews, Flag Day)

Benny Andrews, Flag Day, 1966, oil on canvas, 53.3 x 40.6 cm ©The Benny Andrews Estate (The Art Institute of Chicago) (photo: Dr. Steven Zucker)

Benny Andrews’s Flag Day (1966) will be valuable for the study of:

  • Postwar United States History
  • History of the 1960s
  • Civil Rights movement
  • History of activism in the United States
  • Race and national identity
  • African-American artists
  • Politically-engaged art


Cite this page as: Smarthistory, "Guide for teaching," in Smarthistory, February 1, 2018, accessed August 20, 2018, https://smarthistory.org/guideforteaching-identity/.