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American Literature I.

Colonial Period (1607 the 1st settlement at Jamestown 1775 the outbreak of American revolution) Characteristics: The Age Of Puritanism: no novels they divert peoples attention from work. Writing should have a practical purpose belief in America being the promised land and Americans being the chosen people religious references: explanation of biblical quotation and application to the life of the colony often plain style so that common people can understand Forms of writing: religious, practical,historical 1. Journals and chronicles concerning the founding and early history of some of the colonies writers William Bradford, John Winthorp, Cotton Mather 2. Poetry (secular, domestic or religious subjects) Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Phillis Wheatley (1st published African American poet) 3. Sermons Jonathan Edwards II.Revolutionary Age (1765 1790) Characteristics: The Age of Reason, Enlightment: - rational approach to the world, belief in progress - pragmatism truth measured by practical experience, law of nature - deism God created the world but has no influence on human lives - idealism conviction of the universal sense of right and wrong; belief in essential goodness of man Forms of writing: Political pamphlets, philosophical / religious tracts: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson,Alexander Hamilton III. Early National Period (1775 1828) Characteristics: -3 groups of writers: The 1st group felt that an American literature was too young to declare independence from a British lit The 2nd group believed in the universal literature The 3rd group wanted the American literature to have a national feeling--- the most powerful group Important events: the 1st American comedy (R. Tyler: The Contrast) the earliest American novel (W.H.Brown: The Power of Sympathy) the establishment of the first enduring American magazine The North American Review publishing of the first Slave Narratives written by Black slaves. the most famous work is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass Other important writers : Washington Irving (achieved international fame), W. Cullen Bryant (The 1st major American novelist), Edgar Allan Poe (emancipated the American poetry)

IV. ROMANTICISM sometimes known as the American Renaissance, or the Age of Transcendetalism (1828 1865) Characterictics: explored what it meant to be an American, an American artist; looked at American government and political problems; the problems of war and Black slavery influence of immigration, new customs and traditions;sexuality; relationships between men and women; the power of nature individualism, emphasis on destructive effect of society on individual not an optimistic vision of America; pictures of human weakness, limitation Writers:
Continuing writings by W. Irving, E.A. Poe ( poem Raven, short stories the Pit an the Pendulum, the Fall of the House of Usher), W.C. Bryant,novels and short stories of Herman Melville (Moby-Dick), Harriet Beecher Stowe (novel Uncle Tom's Cabin)
TRANSCENDENTALISM A New England movement rooted in Romanticism and post-Kantian idealism. Basically religious, emphasized role and importance of individual conscience and value of intuition in matters of moral guidance and inspiration. Critical of formalized religion. A trust in the individual, democracy, possibility of continued change for the better A need to see beyond what is before our eyes, to see a deeper significance, a transcendent reality

Writers: Emerson, Thoreau (essay Walden),N. Hawthorne (novel The Scarlett Letter), Margaret Fuller V. REALISM (1865 1900) Characteristics: the analysis of thought and feeling ; function of environment in shaping the character set in present or recent past ,colloquial speech ,commonplace characters; exposed political corruption, economic inequity, the exploitation of labor, women rights problems, racial inequity introduction of a new kind of characters: industrial workers and rural poor, ambitious businessman, prostitutes, unheroic soldiers Writers:
Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Tom Sawyer), Henry James (The Portrait of a Lady)
REGIONAL WRITING (local color) - major feminist novelists: Sarah O. Jewett ,Kate Chopin, Bret Harte POETRY: Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson

VI. NATURALISM (1900 - 1914) a more extreme, intensified version of realism; shows more unpleasant, ugly, shocking aspects of life determinism mans life is dominated by the forces he cannot control: biological instincts, social environment; no free will, no place for moral judgment; pessimism Writers:
Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser (An American Tragedy), Sinclair Lewis, Jack London (The Call of the Wind, White Fang), John Steinbeck (East Of Eden, Of Mice and Men)

VII. MODERNISM (1914-1945) sense of discontinuity, harmony destroyed in WWI, search for truth omission: of explanations, interpretations, connections,symbols and images instead statements experimentation with time: flashback references to literary, historical, philosophical, religious past to remind the reader of old times Writers: The Lost Generation:Gertrude Stein,Ernest Hemingway ( The Old Man and the Sea), John Dos Passos, F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby),William Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury) Other writers: Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Wolfe,Henry Miller Poetry: T. S. Eliot(The Waste Land), William Carlos William, Wallace Stevens Drama: Eugene ONeill,Thorton Wilder

VII.CONTEMPORARY PERIOD (1945 - ) Southern writers: - grotesque - problem of the situation of the Blacks in the South - sense of history - no engagement with the public and social happenings Southern writers: Flannery OConnor(A Good Man Is Hard To Find) ,Truman Capote (Breakfast At Tiffany's ), William Styron (Sophie's Choice) The Beat Generation: - inspiration from Whitman, Buddha, eastern religion, drugs - spontaneity, opposition to constricting forms poetic or political - rhetorical shock - language of drug subculture, Black music, jazz milieu - references to mythical religion - comic touches Jack Kerouac (On The Road) Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti POST-MODERNISM exploration of fantasies and extremities of experience, use of myth, fantasy, fairy tale, self-conscious style parodies of other literary styles, formal and linguistic experimentation irony, grotesque black humor employing elements of cruelty and shock to make readers see the ugly, the awful in a new way novel an independent art form creating its own universe, its own rules literature a game between an author and a reader New York writers: Saul Bellow , J.D. Salinger (The Catcher In the Rye) Middle America writers: John Updike(Rabbit, Run) , Norman Mailer, Joseph Heller (Catch 22) Afro-American Writers: Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man), Alice Walker Post-Modernism: Vladimir Nabokov (Lolita), Kurt Vonnegut DRAMA Arthur Miller (Death Of a Salesman), Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar named Desire)