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Change In America Looking at Maya Angelou and the Impact of her Literary Works Domeka Butler Professor Owens English 1102 October 3,2010
Who is Maya Angelou? Dr. Maya Angelou is an astonishing woman who is known as one of the great voices of modern literature. A poet and educator, she is also considered as a historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. Dr. Angelou continues to travel the world, spreading joy and wisdom. Her words cross racial lines and captivate audiences.
How has Dr. Angelou Impacted Literature? Angelou’s creative talent and genius cut across many arenas. One of the most celebrated authors in the United States, Angelou writes with an honesty and grace that captures the specificity of growing up a young black girl in the rural South.
How Has Dr. Angelou Impacted America? Angelou has received many accolades and awards, including honorary degrees, lifetime achievement awards, foundation awards, and a Presidential Medal. Maya Angelou’s re-creation of the autobiography enhanced the breadth and scope of the American literary canon.
How Has America Changed Through Literature? Henry David Thoreau, not just a writer, but a spiritual interpreter to the world of literature once quoted, "Things do not change; we change." Appears short; yet so full of meaning, not just to his time, but for as long as time persists to exist. When the people of America change so does the literature. Literature cannot evolve on its own without the mind of experience. American literature is reflected upon the inspiration of new ideas and the contemporary condition in which our country sustained at the time. From The Civil war to the revolution that won us our independence as a nation, America was affected. These events, beliefs, and the way of life were all thought to have shaped America's philosophy in writing. Through Puritanism, Enlightenment, Realism, Romanticism, and Transcendentalism we find the changes and the connections of influence in the history of American literature.
How America Can Grow from Angelou’s Writings? America can learn from past mistakes and take steps to ensure those bad decisions are never repeated. Angelou addresses several areas of concern such as economics, race, education, gender, and love. Readers in this country can help level the playing field for all and move toward a higher plane of living.
Serving on Presidential Committees Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Dr. Angelou's reading of her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" was broadcast live around the world.
“Phenomenal Woman” Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's sizeBut when I start to tell them,They think I'm telling lies.I say,It's in the reach of my armsThe span of my hips,The stride of my step,The curl of my lips.I'm a womanphenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That's me…
American Studies Professor Angelou has taught at several American colleges and universities, including the University of Kansas, Wichita State University and California State University at Sacramento. Since the early 1980’s she has been Reynolds professor and writer residence at Wake Forest University. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. appointed her northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1959. She served as an ambassador for UNICEF International in 1996. She is a member of several service committees including the W.E.B. Du Bois Foundation in Massachusetts. In 1981, she was appointed to a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest.
“Still I Rise” You may write me down in historyWith your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I'll rise.Does my sassiness upset you?Why are you beset with gloom?'Cause I walk like I've got oil wellsPumping in my living room.Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I'll rise.Did you want to see me broken?Bowed head and lowered eyes?Shoulders falling down like teardrops.Weakened by my soulful cries…
Portraying 1990 America Dr. Angelou appeared as Aunt June in film, Poetic Justice, 1993; appeared as Lelia Mae in television film, There Are No Children Here, 1993; appeared in advertising for the United Negro College Fund, 1994; appeared as Anna in film, How to Make an American Quilt, 1995; narrator of the film The Journey of the August King, 1995; narrator of the video Elmo Saves Christmas, 1996; appeared in the film Down in the Delta, 1998; appeared in film The Amen Corner and television series Down in the Delta, both 1999; appeared as Conjure Woman in the television special The Runaway, 2000; appeared as herself in various television specials.
Looking at 2010 America Present day authors glean from Angelou the essence of hope and promise. Her earlier works along with her writing today has impacted literary styles across the country and throughout the entire world. America, today, is better because of Dr. Angelou and because of writers like her willing to take on what others run from.
Summary Dr. Maya Angelou has impacted change in America through her life and through her writing. This country is filled with stories like hers, overflowing with adversity, yet pointing toward a happy ending. She has shown that race, gender, economics, education, politics, arts and many, many, more areas can be influenced by sheer grit, determination, passion, and love.
References Angelou, Maya (1969). I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-375-50789-2 Angelou, Maya (1984). "Shades and slashes of light". In Black women writers (1950-1980): A critical evaluation, Mari Evans, ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday . ISBN 0-385-17124-2 Angelou, Maya (1993). Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-22363-2 Baisnée, Valérie (1994). Gendered resistance: The autobiographies of Simone de Beauvoir, Maya Angelou, Janet Frame and Marguerite Duras. Amsterdam: Rodopi Publishers. ISBN 90-420-0109-7 Braxton, Joanne M. (1999). "Symbolic geography and psychic landscapes: A conversation with Maya Angelou". In Maya Angelou's I know why the caged bird sings: A casebook, Joanne M. Braxton, ed. New York: Oxford Press. ISBN 0-1951-1606-2 Cudjoe, Selwyn R. (1984). "Maya Angelou and the autobiographical statement". In Black women writers (1950-1980): A critical evaluation, Mari Evans, ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday . ISBN 0-385-17124-2 Hagen, Lyman B. (1997). Heart of a woman, mind of a writer, and soul of a poet: A critical analysis of the writings of Maya Angelou. Lanham, Maryland: University Press. ISBN 0-7618-0621-0 Lauret, Maria (1994). Liberating literature: Feminist fiction in America. New York:Routledge. ISBN 0-4150-6515-1 Lupton, Mary Jane (1998). Maya Angelou: A critical companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30325-8 Lupton, Mary Jane (1999). "Singing the black mother". In Maya Angelou's I know why the caged bird sings: A casebook, Joanne M. Braxton, ed. New York: Oxford Press. ISBN 0-1951-1606-2 McPherson, Dolly A. (1990). Order out of chaos: The autobiographical works of Maya Angelou. New York: Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 0-820411-39-6 Moyer, Homer E. (2003). The R.A.T. real-world aptitude test: Preparing yourself for leaving home. Sterling, Virginia: Capital Books. ISBN 1-931868-42-5 O'Neale, Sondra (1984). "Reconstruction of the composite self: New images of black women in Maya Angelou's continuing autobiography". In Black women writers (1950-1980): A critical evaluation, Mari Evans, ed. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-17124-2 Sartwell, Crispin. (1998). Act like you know: African-American autobiography and white identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226735-27-3 Tate, Claudia (1999). "Maya Angelou". In Maya Angelou's I know why the caged bird sings: A casebook, Joanne M. Braxton, ed. New York: Oxford Press. ISBN 0-1951-1606-2
Dr. Angelou’s Credits Literary Works by Maya AngelouAutobiographiesI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings · Gather Together in My Name ·Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas · The Heart of a Woman · All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes · A Song Flung Up To HeavenPoetryJust Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie · Oh Pray My Wings are Gonna Fit Me Well · Still I Rise · Shaker, Why Don't You Sing · Now Sheba Sings the Song · I Shall Not Be Moved · "On the Pulse of Morning" · Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems for Women · Poetry for Young PeopleEssaysLessons in Living · Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now · Even the Stars Look Lonesome · Hallelujah! The Welcome Table · Mother: A Cradle to Hold Me · Letter to My DaughterChildren's booksMrs. Flowers: A Moment of Friendship · Life Doesn't Frighten Me · Soul Looks Back in Wonder · My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me · Kofi and His Magic · Maya's World ·PlaysCabaret for Freedom · The Least of These · The Best of These · The Clawing Within · Gettin' up Stayed on My Mind · Adjoa Amissah ·Sophocles, Ajax · And Still I Rise · Theatrical Vignette · King
Personal Application of Angelou’s Writings in Butler’s Life I have been challenged to live up to my full potential. As a young black woman from the south, I can relate to several accounts of Dr. Angelou’s history. Personally, I have impacted change in America. She most certainly has impacted me and this country. We are all better because of the exposure.
Evaluation & Recommendation This author and her efforts are outstanding. I wholeheartedly recommend this topic to all ages and physical make-ups. Researching this topic and submerging myself into a new world of thinking helps to define where I am today. Real change in anything, even in America, starts within us all, and Dr. Angelou helped show that to humanity.