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American Literature

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Christine Lahners

on 3 December 2014

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Transcript of American Literature

I. Early American Writing 1600-1800
III. Realism & Regionalism 1850-1900
The Civil War was a violent clash, not of armies, but of ideas. Who was right, and who was wrong? What did it mean to be an American? Was any price too high to keep the nation whole? There was nothing theoretical about the conflict--real people died, hundreds of thousands of them: fathers, sons, and brothers. But the war began before a single shot was ever fired. Writers served as its first soldiers and the battle lines were drawn in ink.
IV. Modernism 1900-1950
Change was the only constant for America in the early 20th century. A world war, an economic boom, followed by the Great Depression, shifting attitudes towards women's place in society. In this uncertainty, traditional values were discarded as Americans, writers and non-writers alike, searched for truths in what felt like a whole new world.
Patriotic and individualistic, urban and untamed, wealthy and enslaved--Americans in the first half of the 19th century embodied a host of contradictions. Struggling to make sense of their complex, inconsistent society, writers of the period turned inward for a sense of truth.
by Mrs. Lahners
American Literature
For many people, early America was an experiment in hope. Explorers seeking adventure, settlers searching for religious freedom, colonists building communities, revolutionaries designing a new government--all embraced their challenges with a sense of faith and purpose. Writers of the day recorded and interpreted the extraordinary experiences of these ordinary people. They and their fellow colonists imagined and created an entirely new country and unique way of life.
A. The Native American
II. American Romanticism
In the years that followed the Civil War, the United States was filled with seemingly limitless possibility. Yet all around, in the land of hope and opportunity, writers saw Americans living lives of hardship and despair. Regionalism tried to capture the reality of ordinary people's lives.
B. Explorers &
The Early Settlers
C. The Puritans
My Antonia
by Willa Cather
A. Slavery &
The Civil War
Native American myths about how the world was created...
B. The Roaring Twenties and The Jazz Age
300 different Native American cultures in North America
common to all--storytelling
history, legends, and myths, passed from generation to generation
Native American cultures explored common themes:
reverence for nature and the land
ways to explain how the universe and humans came into being
English Settlers described the new land for those back in Europe
Accounts helped English readers visualize North America
First-person accounts:
historical narratives (for example, William Bradford's
Of Plymouth Plantation)
Puritans wanted to "purify" the Church of England
left England to escape religious persecution
Puritans believed they were chosen by God to create a new order in America
human struggle with sin was a daily mission
hard work, thrift, and responsibility were morally good
inflexible in religious faith
intolerant of differing viewpoints (example, the Salem witch trials of 1692)
D. Writers of the Revolution
During the Revolutionary period, the writing of importance was mostly political taking the form of:
newspaper articles
magazine articles
The Declaration of Independence (1776)
Constitution of the United States (1787)
Crevecoeur recorded everyday life in his
Letters from and American Farmer
Franklin recorded the calendar, weather, and common sayings in his
Poor Richard's Almanac

placed a high value on feelings, imagination, and the personal experience
saw nature not as a machine, but rather as a mysterious living organism
stressed the wildness and unpredictability of the natural world

A. The Early Romantics:
B. Dark Romantic or
American Gothic
did not believe in the innate goodness of people
explored the human capacity for evil
probed the inner life of characters
explored characters' motivations
agreed with romantic emphasis on emotions, nature, and the individual
included elements of fantasy and the supernatural
F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great American Dreamer
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4
part 5
Jonathan Edwards was an American minister whose sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" became one of the most famous sermons of the 18th century.
transitional period
slaves, public figures, everyday people contributed ideas
writing was honest and unsentimental
Slave narratives revealed the true nature of slavery and made readers care.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
is an authentic account
Public Documents, like President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation, influenced a large audience.
culturally and socially a time of rapid change
economy boomed with new technologies, soaring business profits, and higher wages
prosperity provided more leisure time
second industrial revolution with assembly line production making more consumer goods available
A. The Harlem Renaissance
the Great Migration (1916-1920s) African-Americans moved to Harlem (a New York City neighborhood) in search of opportunity and freedom from oppression and racial hostility
men and women produced unique artistic, musical, and literary forms of expressions of what it meant to be black in a white-dominated world during The Harlem Renaissance
B. The Vanishing Frontier
writing was influenced by the Civil War, the country's expansion, and industry's growth
regionalists sought to record for the future the unique character of a region
captured life on the frontier
an outgrowth of Realism
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
My Antonia
are masterpieces of regionalism
The Great Gatsby
, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, may be the most popular classic in modern American fiction
Great Books: The Scarlet Letter
Full transcript