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Transcript of american literature
The story of America began with the movement of ancient people from Asia looking for food. They were hunter people and they crossed the Bering Strait during the Glacier Period following mammoths and bisons.
Virginia vs. new England
There were important differences between the Southern and the New England colonies in America. In the South, enormous farms used the labor of black slaves to grow tabacco. The rich and powerful plantation owners were slow to develop a literature of their own. They preferred books imported from England. But, in New England, the Puritan settlers had come to the New World in order to form a society based on strict Christian beliefs, like the Puritans in England. They had a stronger sense of unity and of a shared purpose. This allowed them to develope culture and literature much faster than in the South.
Then, Spaniards started to arrive to the Caribbean Islands and they continued their explorations to North and South America. Drawn by stories of gold, they conquered both the Aztec and Inca Empire and seized their wealth.
About 1000 years ago, sailors from Northern Europe briefly explored the shores of Canada. It would be another 500 years before any other Europeans set foot in the Americas.
explorers reach the america
We can divide the American Literature into periods taking into account what happened from 1600 when the first colonies were established until 1900 when a new society started to grow up.
english settlement in north america
In 1600, and early 1700, the English established thirteen colonies along the Atlantic coast of North America. People came to the American colonies for various reasons, including the pursuit of wealth, land or religious freedom. People brought their values and beliefs with them including the idea of self-government
starting with american literature
American literature begins in the early 1600s. The first writers were Englishmen describing the English exploration and colonization of the New World. Their books mixed facts with fantasy and tried to persuade people to settle in the New World. People could certainly read them as tales of adventure and they could enjoy imaginary voyages to places they could never visit in reality.
American Literature periods
1- the colonial/PURITAN period:
The most interesting works were histories, because to Puritans, history developed according to " God's plan". The central drama of history was the struggle between Christ and Satan.
The histories were written using a "plain style" and a "clear light of truth" to uneducated readers.
Puritans writers avoided elegant language.
The examples they used were from the Bible and the everyday life of the farmers.
The most important work was PLYMOUTH PLANTATION by William Bradford
2- revolutionary age
It was called the "Age of reason" or " Enlightenment".
Enlightenment thinkers were sure that man could improve himself. They wanted to create a society based on justice and freedom.
Almanacs contained useful information for farmers and sailors. They were a popular form of practical literature.
Appearance of political journalism in the form of pamphlets. These were cheap to publish and the author, if he wished, did not have to give his name.
The most important writers were Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.
The most important literature works were
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE and POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC among others.
3-the early national period
Appearance of notable first works, such as the first American comedy written for the stage (
The Contrast by Royal Tyler
, 1787) and the first American Novel (
The Power of Sympathy
by William Hill, 1789).
4-THE AMERICAN RENAISSANCE PERIOD: 1840-1860
This period is also known as the Romantic period or the Age of Transcendentalism.
The Transcendentalists formed a movement of feelings and beliefs.
They tried to find the truth through feeling and intuition.
They found God everywhere, in men and in nature.
The most important literature works were "The dial" by Ralph Emerson. Other writers were Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville.
Civil War demanded " truer type of literature" that does not idealize people or places.
The most important poetry work was
"Leaves of grass" by Walt Whitman.
important writers were Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain and Sarah Jewett among others.
6-The naturalist period
Naturalism was a term created by a French novelist.
They used the discoveries and knowledge of modern science.
They thought that people´s lives were controlled by social, economic and psychological causes.
The most important writes were Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser and Jack London.
7-the modern period
Many of the writers during this period were influenced by World War I and the disillusionment that followed, especially the expatriates of the Lost Generation.
The Modern Period contains within it certain major movements including
the Jazz Age
the Harlem Renaissance
the Lost Generation
Writers reflect the ideas of Karl Marx and social protests.
The most important literature works were: the novel called "the Great Gatsby" by Scott Fitzgerald,
"The Sun also Rises"
by Ernest Hemingway among others.
8-The Contemporary period from 1970 to present
The writers were all creators of light or popular literature. Their stories and chapters were loved by millions and millions of American and foreign fans.
Literature works were about American humor, mystery stories, Westerns and science fiction.
The most important writers were:Kurt Vonnegut, Amy Tan, John Updike, Eudora Welty, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison,Thomas Pynchon, Elizabeth Bishop, Tennessee Williams, Sandra Cisneros, Richard Wright, Tony Kushner, Adrienne Rich, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow among others.
EDGAR ALLAN POE 1809-1849
He was an writer interested in psychology and the dark side of human nature.
Both Poe's parents had been actors and had died by the time he was three.
Poe made important contributions to American literature in the areas of the short story, literary criticism and poetry.
His tales of horror are characterized by putting his characters into unusual situations.
Poe was one of the creators of the modern detective story. Instead of examining characters and feelings, these stories examine mysteries and problems.
The interest of Poe's poetry was in its sound, rather than its content. He constantly experimented with ways to make it musical.
He wanted to help develop a national literature for the young country and felt that intelligent criticism was the key.
THE BLACK CAT 1943
"The black cat" is a story written by Edgar Allan Poe in 1843 . The main character is a man called Allan.
Allan has been having problems with alcohol. He lives with his wife and his black cat Pluto. One night, Allan returns home drunk and gouges his pet cat's eye out with a knife. A few weeks later, apparently because he feels guilty when he looks at the one-eyed cat, Allan takes the cat into the back yard and hangs him. That night his house burns down. Looking at the ruins, Allan discovers what he thinks is the shape of a cat hanging from a noose outlined on the one standing wall, above his bed.
After this event, Allan and his wife move to a new house. Allan continues to drink, and, one night, in the local bar, he finds and adopts another black cat exactly like Pluto. Weeks later, when Allan goes down to the cellar to break up some kindling for the winter, his new cat runs under his feet and nearly causes him to fall. Because of this, he raises an axe, intending to hurl it at the cat, but his wife grabs his arm, and he kills her instead. He thinks about ways of hiding the body and eventually decides to tear down a brick wall in the cellar and put her body behind it. He does this and is very proud of his work.
Days later, a policeman interrogates Allan about his wife's disappearance, but the officer's questions are too easily answered; he doesn't even look into the house. Other day, two more policemen examine the house thoroughly. Before they leave, Allan proudly slaps on the wall behind which he has buried his wife's body. The officers hear something that sounds like a baby crying behind the wall. So, they get crowbars and break down the wall to find Allan's wife's body with the one-eyed black cat sitting on her head.
In conclusion, I have to say that is important take into account every period of the history of a country in order to understand their past and their actual situation. Every period will allow us to understand their life styles and in consequence to understand their literature which reflects what a society is living and what they are thinking in a particular moment.
Student : Barboza Rosalía Paola