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American literature

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Title: American literature


1
American literature
2
Top ten books being discussed in U.S.
universities (1)
  • R.W. Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841)
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (1850)
  • Mrs. Stowe, Uncle Toms Cabin (1852)
  • Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
  • Henry James, Daisy Miller (1878)

3
Top ten books being discussed in U.S.
universities (2)
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)
  • William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929) /
    Light in August (1932)
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
    (1937)
  • Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
  • Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

4
Teaching American literature in the U.S.
  1. What is American literature?
  2. What is the status of literature in American
    education?
  3. How is literature taught in American schools?

5
What is American literature?
  • Literature created by American citizens and
    written in English?
  • Isaac Bashevis Singer writes in Yiddish?
  • Literature in written form? American Indians?
  • Literature most representing American national
    spirit by American citizens?
  • womens domestic / private literature?
  • Literature created by American citizens about the
    U.S. or about any country?
  • Singer, Ha Jin?

6
Change of the definition of American literature
  • The literary canon
  • Nationalism ? Multiculturalism

7
Literary Canon
  • We never read American literature directly or
    freely, but always through the perspective
    allowed by theories. Theories account for the
    inclusion and exclusion of texts in anthologies,
    and theories account for the way we read them.
  • Nina Baym, Melodrama of Beset Manhood How
    Theories of American Fiction Exclude Women
    Authors (1981), rpt. Locating American Studies,
    ed. Lucy Maddox (Baltimore Johns Hopkins UP,
    1999), 215-31.

8
Nationalism
  • a movement, as in the arts, based upon the folk
    idioms, history, aspirations, etc., of a nation /
    the United States of America
  • - literature for democracy (Emerson)

9
Nationalistic Orientation (1)
  1. Dominance of the classic literature of white,
    middle-class, male and of Anglo-Saxon derivation
    or at least from an ancestry which had settled in
    this country before the big waves of immigration
    (mid-19th-century)
  2. Exclusion of the literature of women and colored
    people (American Indians, African-Americans,
    Asian Americans, etc)

10
Nationalistic Orientation (2)
  • 3. Good literature embodiment of American
    national spirit e.g. F. O. Matthiessen in
    American Renaissance (1941) enshrines five
    writers for their devotion to democracy,
    dismissing Mrs. Stowes Uncle Toms Cabin (1852)
    as second rate popular writing only.
  • cf. The Scarlet Letter (1850)
  • Moby Dick (1851)
  • Walden (1854)
  • Leaves of Grass (1855)
  • Americanness vs Excellence

11
Women novelists excluded before 1970
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Toms Cabin (1852)
  • Kate Chopin The Awakening (1899)
  • Edith Wharton The House of Mirth (1905), The Age
    of Innocence (1920)
  • Willa Cather O. Pioneers! (1913), My Antonia
    (1918)
  • Nora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God
    (1937)

12
Hawthorne cultural production
  1. Evert Duyckinck, who managed the magazine United
    States Magazine and Democratic Review , advocate
    of American literary nationalism, proponent of
    high culture
  2. James T. Fields, classic publisher, creating
    hierarchical canon
  3. Houghton Mifflin, promotion of American classics
    as school texts to be studied as national
    heritage elevate elite culture and eradicate
    cultural differences

13
Herman Melville
  • Moby-Dick (1851)
  • Obscurity ? Greatest American novel since
    1920

14
Mark Twain
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Greatest novel?
  • vs.
  • Racist trash ?
  • Hypercanonized?

15
Redefinition of American literary past since the
1960s
  • Cold War, Vietnam War, Civil Rights Movement,
    womens movement, minority groups struggles for
    equity
  • Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
    (1937) - Richard Wright, Native Son (1940) vs
    Alice Walker, Looking for Zora (1975)
  • Anthologies of Women writers, Asian-American
    literature, American Indian literature
  • Inclusion of women and ethnic writers in
    anthologies

16
cultural pluralism vs. multiculturalism
  • Value of a variety of cultural traditions, esp.
    those of American Indians (native Americans),
    Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and
    Latin-Americans (Hispanics).
  • All cultural traditions are valuable and should
    also be treated equally.

17
Will the high-culture system crumble? Is the
literary canon possible?
  • Reassessment of authors of literary value the
    dominance of Euro-American high culture is made
    problematic
  • Reallocation of funds to minority arts
    organizations
  • Debates will be highly contentious since the
    cultural authority is challenged.

18
Redefinition of American literature
  • By the literature of the United States, we mean
    all written and oral literary works produced in
    that part of the world that has become the United
    States of America.
  • See Emory Elliott, et al eds. Introduction.
    Columbia Literary History of the United States.
    NY Columbia UP, 1988. xix

19
Traditional outline of American literary history
  1. The Colonial Period 16091776
  2. The Revolutionary Period 17761820
  3. The Romantic Period 18201865
  4. The Realism and Naturalism 18651920
  5. The Modern Period 19201960
  6. The Post-modern Period since 1960

20
Nortons Outline of American Literature
  • Beginnings to 1700
  • From colonies to nation 1700-1820
  • The Romantic period 18201865
  • The Realism and Naturalism 18651914
  • The Modern period 19141945
  • Contemporary literature since 1945

21
1 ??????
Norton Anthology of American Literature????????
???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ???? ????? ????? ???? ????
? ? ? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??
? ? ? 29 714 14 205 128 4899
? ? ? 22.7 14.6 10.9 4.2
? ? ? 80 1548 37 738 14 157 7 70 6 67 224 5426
? ? ? 35.7 29.2 16.5 13.6 6.3 4.6 3.1 1.3 2.7 1.2
? ? ? 14 5 5 5 (????) (????)
22
2 ????
  • ???????????????29????????80?,????51?,??????4????
    ???????,?????55????1945???????20????46?,?????2?,??
    ?28?,????????????????,???????????,????????????,???
    1970??????????????

23
?????(Hannah Webster Foster, 1758-1840)????(179
7) ??????(Tabitha Tenney, 1762-1834)
?????(1801) ???????(Catharine Maria Sedgwick,
1789-1867) ??????(Lydia H. H. Sigourney,
1791-1865) ??????(Charlotte Perkins Gilman,
1860-1935) ????(1892) ????(Mrs Stowe,
1811-1896) ???????(1852) ????(Willa Cather,
1873-1947) ??????(1918) ???(Emily Dickinson,
1830-1886)
24
3 ?????
  • ??????????????14????????34?,??1945?????1?,??10?,
    1945????10????21?,??11??
  • ??????????????????,????????????,????????,?????????
    ?????

25
???????(Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960)

??????(1937) ?????(Alice Walker, 1944-)
??(1982) ?????(Toni Morrison, 1931-)
??(1987) ?????????(Friderick Douglass,
1818-1895) ?????????(1845)
?????(1853) ????(Nella Larsen, 1891-1964)
??(Quicksand) (1928)
26
4 ????
  • ??????????????,??????14?????,???????????,???????
    ???????????????63?,????????????????????????
  • ?????????????????????????????????????????

27
??????(Leslie Marmon Silko, 1948-)??(1977) ???
???(N. Scott Momaday, 1934-)
????(House Made of Dawn)
(1968) ???????(Louise Erdrich, 1954-)
??(1984) ??????(Sherman Alexie, 1966-)
28
5 ????
  • ??????????????,??????7?????,??5?????,5?????,5??1
    945?????????
  • 1865-1914?????1?????,?????????????????(???????)(S
    ui Sin Far or Edith M. Eaton, 1865-1914),?????????
    ????????

29
???(Cathy Song, 1955-) ???(Li-Young Lee,
1957-) ???(Maxine Hong Kingston, 1940-)
???(Woman Warrior) (1976)
???(China Men) (1980) ???(Amy Tan, 1952-)
???(The Joy Luck Club) (1989)
????(The Kitchen God's Wife) (1991)
????(The Hundred Secret Senses) (1995)
30
6 ?????
  • ??????????????6?????????,??5??????,5??1945????????
  • ???????? (Sandra Cisneros, 1954- )
  • ??????(The House on Mango Street)
  • (1983)

31
????????????????????????????????????????,?????????
,????????????????????????????????,????????????????
32
Literature in American schools (1)
  • Before the 1870s
  • - literature was subordinated to grammar,
    etymology, rhetoric, logic, elocution, theme
    writing, textbook literary history and biography.
  • - boring teaching method recitation

33
Literature in American schools (2)
  • After the 1870s
  • - There was a growing expectation of English
    as a potential cultural forces.
  • - Teaching literature was professionalized.
  • - There gradually appeared the department of
    English Literature in American Universities,
    established the literary canon when universities
    set a list of texts for college entrance
    examinations in English.

34
Advocacy of literary nationalism
  • A nation without a literature is a nation without
    true greatness and without true independence.
  • The literature of a nation is the source of its
    chief glory.
  • Teaching literature is a most effective way to
    acculturate the young and to incorporate them
    into the deep American ethos.

35
Literature in American schools (3)
  • Literature, language, and culture are mixed
    together in the English Department courses
  • - Introductions to literature
  • - Creative writing workshops
  • - Studies of minority or ethnic literatures
  • - Seminars of individual writers
  • - Seminars of periods, genres, literary
    criticism
  • Great books are taught for students of all
    majors, mostly required of students with
    Humanities major.

36
Literature teaching methods in American schools
  • Lectures
  • Discussions
  • Presentations
  • Recitations
  • Writing creative writing paper writing
  • Students are strongly encouraged to read the
    original works (since elementary school) and to
    develop their independent thinking and original
    interpretation of literature.

37
Assignments for Dickinson's Poems
  • Read Dickinsons poems in Tradition
  • Read Adrienne Richs Vesuvius at Home
  • Think about the following and choose one topic
    to write a short paper
  • - Dickinsons unique style and language
  • - relationship between nature and humans
  • - concept of love
  • - concept of death
  • - relation between Dickinsons life and her
    poetry
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