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  4. 4. NATIVE AMERICANS • Created the first American literature • Literature was primarily oral; it was passed around from person to person and generation to generation through storytelling and performances •Because it is oral, it changes over time. •Repetitive and simplistic to make it easier to remember •Beliefs are that humans are a part of nature and do not have dominion over it •Literature expresses harmony within the natural world •Types of Native American oral literature are: –Creation Myths: how the world or humans came to be –Trickster Tales: tricksters who transformed the world into its present state –Ritual songs and chants that are a part of ceremonies
  5. 5. Puritan Literature/ Colonialism (1620 to 1800)
  6. 6. Puritans • Used Puritan Plain Style of writing – Simple writing that used words common to 17th century conversation – Focuses on historical events, daily life, moral attitudes – Poetry followed a very strict pattern of rhyme scheme, meter, and form to reflect the strict lifestyle and religious beliefs. • Meter is the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in poetry. • An iamb is a pair of unstressed and stressed syllables. • Most is lyric, expressing the thoughts/feelings of a single person • Religious beliefs included: – God is in control of EVERYTHING! – The concepts of grace and salvation: only a belief in the one true God/Jesus Christ will enable you to go to heaven—God is the only one who can save your soul. – Predestination: God “elected,” or decided beforehand, who would go to heaven. – Theocratic government
  7. 7. “Beginnings” Literature from this Semester • JONATHAN EDWARDS – “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – A sermon in which Edwards used fear tactics and images of fire and flood waters to scare sinners into turning to God • ANNE BRADSTREET – “To My Dear and Loving Husband” – Wrote lyric poetry that addressed topics such as devotion to God and family – Wrote for herself, not for publication • OLAUDAH EQUIANO – From The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano – Wrote an autobiographical slave narrative that told of the horrible conditions slaves were forced to endure on their voyage to the New World • WILLIAM BRADFORD – Of Plymouth Plantation – The governor’s description of hardships faced by Pilgrims in the New World
  8. 8. RATIONALISM AND DEISM (1750 to early1800s)
  9. 9. DEISTS AND RATIONALISTS • DEISTS – Like the Puritans, they did believe that God created the universe, but unlike the Puritans, they believed that he walked away and left us in control of our own decisions and destinies. – God does NOT interfere with the running of the universe. • RATIONALISTS – Naturally, the universe is orderly and good. – The universe works like a clock, managing and running itself. – Reason and rational thought is valued over imagination, intuition, and religious faith.
  10. 10. DIEST / RATIONALIST LITERATURE • BEN FRANKLIN – From Autobiography – Tells how he strives to live an orderly and good life by adhering to the 13 virtues and practicing them in everyday life • THOMAS PAINE – From The Crisis Number 1 – Wrote this to build morale of the soldiers during the American Revolution so they would not leave the war to return home – Even though they are suffering now, God will not desert them because what they are doing is good • PATRICK HENRY – “Speech in the Virginia Convention” – Persuaded early Americans to take armed action against the British because the situation would never improve unless they did
  11. 11. Romanticism (1800 to 1855)
  12. 12. Romantic Beliefs • 5 Is – Imagination – Intuition – Individualism – Inspiration – Idealism • Backlash against Rationalism – All of these ideals are valued over reason and rationality. – We begin to see a strong acknowledgement of and connection to nature and the “supernatural.” – Looked to the past for inspiration
  13. 13. Romantic Literature • WASHINGTON IRVING – “The Devil and Tom Walker” – Story about a man who sells his soul to the devil for Earthly treasures – Traveled to Europe and brought the Faust Legend back from Germany • WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT – “Thanatopsis”: A view of death – Death is nothing to fear; it is natural – Considered the father of American poetry • EDGAR ALLAN POE – “The Raven” – Isolation leads to madness – A dark Romantic who often explored death and gothic elements • NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE – The Scarlet Letter – Shameful of ancestors; deeply explored sin in the human race, especially the Puritan society – Dark Romantic
  14. 14. Transcendentalism And American renaissance (1850-1855)
  15. 15. TRANSCENDENTAL BELIEFS • The individual is highly valued and is no longer seen as “inferior” or less powerful than God. • People should not conform to society simply because society tells them to do so. • Find truth in nature and human experience, but rely on your own intuition of what you know to be true. • Everything in the world, God, nature, and the Over Soul, are all equally connected. • Your mind is the most important tool to learning the truth.
  16. 16. TRANSCENDENTAL/RENAISSANCE LITERATURE • RALPH WALDO EMERSON – From Nature and Self-Reliance – Tells how we can learn truth by examining nature; tells how we must rely on ourselves and our own minds to experience life to the fullest. – Dissatisfied with the church, he resigned from the ministry to practice Transcendental beliefs. • HENRY DAVID THOREAU – From Walden – Stayed at Walden Pond to test Transcendental ideas – Criticizes the superficiality of society but offers hope that it can change if we changed our views and everyday lives to reflect a simple, uncluttered lifestyle. • EMILY DICKENSON – “Because I could not stop for death” and “I heard a fly buzz—when I died” – Poetry examines death, religion and nature • WALT WHITMAN – “I Hear America Singing,” “Song of Myself,” and “Leaves of Grass” – Uses unconventional rhyme and meter – Celebrates the individual and the “common” man
  17. 17. REALISM/NATURALISM (1850 TO 1914)
  18. 18. MAJOR HISTORICAL EVENTS • America changing from mostly agricultural nation to the modern industrial nation we know today • Frontier ceasing to exist with westward expansion • “The Gilded Age”—country is really in major discontent • CIVIL WAR REALISM • The enormous cost of human lives during the war shattered the nation’s idealism • Rejected Romanticism • Reflected harsh realities of everyday life as accurately as possible – Regionalism: local color, dialect NATURALISM •Portrayed lives of ordinary people but suggested that environment, fate, heredity, chance (forces beyond people’s control) determined people’s fate
  19. 19. REALISM/NATURALISM LITERATURE REALISM • Stephen Crane – “An Episode of War” – Soldier shot while dividing coffee for breakfast; arm amputated •Spirituals •“Go Down Moses” •Codes for longing of escape from slavery •Frederick Douglas •“from My Bondage and My Freedom” •Ambrose Bierce •“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” •Man set up by Union soldier and hanged for attempting to burn the Owl Creek bridge
  20. 20. • Mark Twain – “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” – Great use of local color and regional dialect – Man likes to bet and is outsmarted by a stranger – SATIRE: making fun of something with humor (the West) – STEREOTYPE: characters who are “generalizations” of a certain group (East vs. West Narrator vs. Storyteller) •Kate Chopin •“Story of an Hour” •Pressure women feel about their roles in society •IRONY: something turns out to be different from what we expect •Dramatic, Verbal, Situational NATURALISM •Jack London •“To Build a Fire” •He is fated to die
  21. 21. MODERNISM (1914-1946)
  22. 22. MAJOR HISTORICAL EVENTS • World War I and Great Depression MAJOR BELIEFS • Loss of faith in the American Dream! • Feelings of uncertainty and disillusionment • Abandoning of traditional form and meter • Constructing works out of fragments • Experimenting with new techniques (stream of consciousness) • Seeking to capture the essence of modern life in both form and content
  23. 23. MAJOR AUTHORS • T. S. Eliot • Ezra Pound • F. Scott Fitzgerald • John Steinbeck • W. H. Auden • Ernest Hemingway • Carl Sandburg • Katharine Anne Porter • William Faulkner • Robert Frost • Langston Hughes • Zora Neale Hurston
  24. 24. POSTMODERNISM (1946 to present)
  25. 25. MAJOR HISTORICAL EVENTS/BELIEFS • Boom in technology, making life very impersonal and commercial • World War II • The process is just as important as the final product • Blending of fiction and nonfiction MAJOR AUTHORS • Flannery O’connor • Joy Harjo • Alice Walker • Amy Tan • Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton (Confessional Poets) • Gwendolyn Brooks • Arthur Miller