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The Evolution of American Literature

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The Evolution of American Literature A comparative study of the literature and the history of America Eras of American Literature I. Pre-Columbian: ? to 1607 II. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Evolution of American Literature


1
The Evolution of American Literature
  • A comparative study of the literature and the
    history of America

2
Eras of American Literature
  • I. Pre-Columbian ? to 1607
  • II. Colonial 1607-1770
  • III. Revolutionary 1770-1800
  • IV. Romantic 1800-1860
  • V. Transcendental 1840-1860
  • VI. Realist 1860-1900
  • VII. Modern 1900 - present

3
I. Pre-Columbian America
  • An Oral literature and mythology
  • Characteristics
  • No phonetic written language
  • Oral literature passed down through generations
  • Most stories are in form of poems which often had
    rhythm, rhyme and chants
  • Topics included the creation of world, a great
    flood, and the stories of the many tribes

4
II. Colonial Literature
  • Puritan/New England
  • Southern Literature

Diversion /Amusement Recording of events and
business affairs More sophisticated
diction Humorous, more relaxed tone Little/ no
mention of God Journals and Diaries
Literature of ideas theological, moral,
historical, political Topic often has reference
to God Simple, direct diction Devout, religious,
inspirational tone Instructional, not aesthetic
purpose Diaries, Journals, Religious Poetry
5
Examples of Colonial Literature
  • History of Plymouth Plantation
  • Bay Psalm Book
  • To My Dear and Loving Husband
  • Upon the Burning of my House
  • General History of Virginia
  • History of the Dividing Line
  • Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

6
III. Revolutionary Literature
  • Equivalent to Neoclassical Period in Europe
  • Literature of Reason, Persuasion, Rhetoric,
    Propaganda
  • Balance, Logic, Reason, Order, and Control
  • Logos, Pathos, and Ethos Persuasion
  • Politics and Ideas to inspire an direct peoples
    actions

Writers of the Revolutionary Period Benjamin
Franklin Thomas Paine Patrick Henry Thomas
Jefferson John Adams George Washington Alexander
Hamilton James Madison
7
IV. Romantic Literature
8
Romantic Literature
  • Influences include-
  • Nationalism
  • European Heritage
  • Reaction to Neoclassical thought
  • First period of true American Literature/
  • fiction

9
Romantic Period
  • Love of Nature
  • Strong sense of the beauty of the world,
    especially in nature and human emotion
  •  
  • Search for an ideal/perfect world, where one can
    be in communion with nature

10
Romantic Literature Continued
  • Common person placed in an extraordinary
    situation
  • Deep sympathy and concern for the humble,
    underprivileged, or obscure common folk 
  • Vivid imagination writers creating fantastic
    dream worlds (allowing for willing suspension of
    disbelief)
  •  

11
Even More Romantic Characteristics
  • Interest in ancient legends and tradition
  • Distant times and places as settings for the
    stories gothic settings
  • Strong sense of supernatural and mystery
  • Strong passionate emotion, often inhibited and
    not accepted by society

12
Would you believe? Yes, More.
  • Subjectivity feelings and opinions are more
    important or effective than fact or reason
  • Nonconformity to society the needs of the
    individual are more important than the needs of
    society
  • Freedom from restraint and rebellion against
    limitations especially those imposed by society
  •  Strong conflict between science and nature

13
The Romantic Writers
  • Washington Irving
  • James Fenimore Cooper
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • William Cullen Bryant
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Herman Melville

14
V. Transcendentalist Movement and the Golden
Years
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Henry David Thoreau

15
Transcendentalist Movement
  • Truths that go beyond, or transcend, proof
  • Truths that are known to the heart and not
    necessarily to the mind
  • Truths that are felt emotionally, but cannot be
    proven logically
  • Values lie in the realm of instinct and intuition

Great men are they who see that spiritual is
stronger than any material force, that thoughts
rule the world
16
Time is but the stream I go a-fishin in
  • Henry David Thoreau

17
The Fireside Poets Can you match the poet to the
poem?
  • The Authors
  • Their Poems
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • James Russell Lowell
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • John Greenleaf Whittier
  • The First Snowfall
  • Snow-Bound
  • The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere
  • Old Ironsides

18
VI. Realism
19
Romanticism versus Realism
  • Writers goal is to explore the conversion of the
    human heart
  • Writers see possibility and hope as well as the
    darker side of the human spirit
  • Writers want to explore the psychological and
    emotional aspects of human life
  • Distant time and place as setting
  • Supernatural, mystery, inexplicable intuition and
    instinct
  • Emotion- paramount
  • Nature, common people, the ordinary in
    extraordinary situations serve as topics
  • Writers goal is to tell the truth
  • Writers see more pain and humility and a new
    roughness.
  • Writers take a closer look at the aspects of
    human life.
  • Current time and place as settings
  • Lack of supernatural or divine intervention
  • Practicality and eventuality supersede emotion
  • Cities, Industrial Age, Politics, Immorality of
    greed and disenfranchisement serve as topics

20
Naturalism an offshoot of Realism well, sort of
  • Developed post Civil War, as did Realism
  • More private and less public struggle as conflict
  • Less hope and more despair
  • Both realism and naturalism continued into the
    20th Century, and even into the modern era.

21
Naturalism Key Elements
  • 1. Survival, determinism, and violence are key
    themes.
  • 2. Nature as an indifferent force acting on the
    lives of human beings
  • 3. The forces of heredity and environment as they
    affect--and afflict--individual lives.

22
The brute within each individual is comprised
of strong and often warring emotions
  • Passions, such as lust, greed, or the desire for
    dominance or pleasure
  • the fight for survival in an amoral, indifferent
    universe
  • The conflict in naturalistic novels is often man
    against nature or man against himself as
    characters struggle to retain a veneer of
    civilization despite external pressures that
    threaten to release the brute within.

23
Finally, for the naturalistic viewpoint
  • An indifferent, deterministic universe.
    Naturalistic texts often describe the futile
    attempts of human beings to exercise free will,
    often ironically, in this universe that reveals
    free will as an illusion.

24
Realism versus Naturalism
  • Realism
  • Naturalism
  • Writers goal is to tell the truth
  • Writers see more pain and humility and a new
    roughness.
  • Writers take a closer look at the aspects of
    human life.
  • Free will can still be exercised
  • All 5 major conflicts can be faced
  • Reality versus illusion often as main thematic
    idea
  • Practicality and eventuality supersede emotion
  • Cities, Industrial Age, Politics, Immorality of
    greed and disenfranchisement serve as topics
  • Writers goal is still to tell the truth
  • Writers see more pain and futility
  • Free will is an illusion determinism and
    fatalism are more evident
  • Man vs. nature and man vs. himself are dominant
    conflicts
  • Forces of environment and heredity replace any
    optimism of illusion ever coming to fruition
  • A character and his/her personal struggles serve
    as main topic
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