Intro to American Literature



this video will provide students an introduction to American literature at this point in time students should think about how much they currently know about American literature by the end of the video the goal is for students to be able to identify the features in American literature at first we're going to focus on the basics what is literature why do people read literature why is it necessary for you to study literature how can we define American literature what are the basic qualities of American writers in how can we study literature the definition of the 14th century define literature as meaning polite learning through reading a man of literature or man of letters was equivalent to a man of wide reading literacy the definition of the 18th century defiant literature as practice and profession of writing during the 19th century literature was defined as the high skills of writing in the special context of high imagination Robert Frost's define literature has performance in words the modern definition of literature in the definition that we will focus on is defining literature as language artistically used to achieve identifiable literary qualities in to convey meaningful messages literature is characterized by beauty of expression in form in by universal intellectual and emotional appeal why is it necessary for you to study literature for one it improves your language proficiency it also enriches your knowledge about the English culture in reading literature or studying literature also helps you explore the nature of human beings by giving you spiritual and psychological relief literature's appealing because of the relationship to the human experience we tend to read for pleasure to acquire knowledge to confront experiences for artistic appreciation and for relaxation how can we study literature a more specifically how will we study American literature one way we will approach the text during the next 10 weeks is the analytical approach within this approach students should become familiar with the elements of a literary work for example focusing on the plot the character the setting the point of view and the goal should be able to answer some basic questions about the text itself another way we approach the text is a thematic approach and within this approach we will aim to identify the themes and motifs that reoccur within the text our goal is to answer the question what is the story about what is the poem the play or the essay about furthermore we will also look at each text from a historical point of view by doing this our goal is to illustrate the historical development of literature in addition we will look at the historical events that occurred during the same time the text was produced and also look at how these events influenced the writers decision to discuss the ideas discussed within the text now the question then becomes what is American literature American literature is written a literary work produced in the area of the United States in colonial America America was once a series of British colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States this literary tradition began as a closely linked branch off of the broader British literary tradition as time progressed the literary tradition began to expand and take on characteristics which separate it from the traditions of British literature some basic qualities of American writers are that the writing is very independent the writing is also individualistic the writing is critical and innovative American literature has greatly influenced the world since the 20th century influenced in Chinese in Canadian writers and French poets just to name a few here is the major periods of American literature this course will cover part 1 2 part 3 and the basics is the literature of colonial America up until the literature of Romanticism it is generally held that Christopher Columbus discovered the American continent in 1492 the writings of Christopher Columbus were included within the colonial period which began from approximately 1607 in 1765 the early writings of American literature has allowed us to gain a better understanding of history these earliest forms of literature were pamphlets and writings they were written to praise the benefits of the colonies they were also written for European and colonist audiences the first settlement of English people happened in Jamestown Virginia 100 years after Columbus discovered America Captain John Smith was the first one to establish the permanent English settlement and he is also considered to be the first American author it was not until 1760s another hundred years later that people begin to call themselves Americans distinguishing their identity from their European ancestors here's a brief historical introduction at the beginning of the 17th century the vast Continental area that was to become the United States had been probed only slightly by English and European explorers the English settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts begin the mainstream for which we recognized as the American national history almost 100 years earlier the Caribbean islands Mexico in other parts of Central and South America had been occupied by the Spanish the earliest settlers included Dutch Germans French Spaniards Italians and Portuguese in the United States of America grew out of religious controversy monarchs desired to expand their empire and settlers yearned for Lynn all contributed to the forming of the American civilization but the colonies that became the first United States were for the most part English sustained by English traditions ruled by English laws supported by English commerce and named after English monarchs and English lands compared with other Western literature diversity became the outstanding feature of American literature the growth of colonial America into the United States has been recorded through literature which began as reports in an exploration of explanation in colonization so the question is the early settlers on the American continent later became the founding fathers of the American nation so who were these people and why did they come most of the immigrants came because they were hungry in America offered them good inexpensive land they didn't describe their good fortune in their letters home attract them more people to come others came to escape religious persecution while those who were considered undesirable or criminals were sent here by the English because they were not considered good citizens as far as England was concerned almost all literature come from humble origins Diaries journals letters sermons travel books etc so did American literature as the previous slide informed us the literature expanded because the settlers were describing their life in this new America in the colonial period personal literature occupied a major position in the literary scene in content they served either guide or the expansion or both in form they were mainly imitations of the English tradition the first American literature was neither American nor really literature it was not American because it was the work mainly of immigrants from England it was not literature as we know it in the form of poetry an essay or fiction but rather an interesting mixture of travel accounts and religious writings this quote is very important in understanding American literature so ask yourself what do you know about the Puritans the Puritans existed within the colonial period of American literature the 1620s to 1783 the forms of writing included histories Diaries chronicles poetry's and sermons they explain biblical quotations interpretations in they applied what they wrote about to the life of the Puritans it has been argued without the Puritans there would be no American literature most of the early settlers were Puritans a group of serious religious people who advocated strict religious immoral principles they wanted to purify the English church in to restore simplicity they wanted to live a hard and discipline life opposed pleasure in art they believed that the Bible was the revealed Word of God therefore people should guide their daily behavior with the Bible the Puritans brought with them a philosophy of life which is popularly known as American Puritanism a dominant factor in American life Puritanism was one of the most enduring in shaping influences in American thought and American literature American Puritanism is a two folded cultural heritage one being religious and the other practical Puritans were therefore called practical idealists or dr. near opportunists they influenced American values by urging others to succeed in Exede they also believed that hard work was necessary for happiness they also imposed that conviction that Americans are the chosen people the Puritans metaphorical motor perception were American literary symbolism into beginning to the pious Puritans the physical world was spiritual nothing but a symbol of God the world therefore was one of multiple meanings this idea was distinguishable in the works of Emerson Hawthorne Melville and Pope this developed itself into symbolism the Puritan style of writing is characterized by simplicity the style of their writing was fresh simple in directs the rhetoric plain and honest the words were simple and spare in not fancy their style was tight and logic in structure precise and compact with an expression they avoided rhetorical decoration in the adoption of homely imagery their form they were good at writing history and biography was once a popular form of literature for the Puritans I reckon led the revolution focused on two major things politics and patriotism the political writers of the time period was Benjamin Franklin he wrote Poor Richard's Almanack in the autobiography of Franklin also Thomas Paine who wrote common sense in the rights of men after post independence many American writers produced works which presented a significant historical discussion of governments and politics the most significant writers of the time included politicians such as Alexander Hamilton James Madison Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry the early literature of the newly formed nation struggled to find a voice that was uniquely American so the post independence writers they struggle for the American voice their texts mimic the styles of forms of European writing but was set in the newly formed nation many critics view these texts as inferior as the United States get up for work and Great Britain an increase in desire to produce uniquely American literature emerged several key figures emerge with the war of 1812 Washington Irvin he is credited as the first writer to develop a style uniquely American Edgar Allen Poe wrote short stories which pushed the boundaries of fiction he also developed the genres mystery and fantasy remember when engaging with the text or in the next few weeks it is important to keep an open mind and try your best to connect with the text whether through history or with your own personal life

5 thoughts on “Intro to American Literature

  1. This is what I needed! I expect to teach American Literature (which is my preference) this year; a subject I have not taught in 16 years! As I view this video, I want to use it for my class.

  2. it was really a good work to post and it really helped me and would all those who needs clear outline of the beginning of the american lit…….

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