essay about american literature

Free American Literature Essays and Papers

essay about american literature

The Importance Of The American Dream In Literature

all the literature we have read there is one thing in common. A dream. The dream of making their life better. The dream that shapes people into who they are today. My dream is to have a job that I can work outside. Taking a look into the history of literature and seeing that the American dream is evident in the literature. Most authors throughout history have had a dream. Their dreams weren’t all the same, but they all had one thing in common and it was the American dream. The American dream has

american literature

Romantic literature is such that an author writes in an attempt to convey his feelings on what the world should be like. It is unrealistic, unreasoning, and imaginative writing. William Cullen Bryant and Edgar Allen Poe are two examples of romantic writers. Though Poe fits the mold of a romantic writer it is obvious that his writings do not mirror those of Bryant or many other known romantic authors. His works share a uniqueness that is not found amongst the other writers, it is this uniqueness that

Mark Twain's Impact On American Literature

All throughout the history of American literature there has been a lot of remarkable authors that have made a great impact in today's literature, one of them being Samuel L. Clemens or better known as Mark Twain. Twain was born into a family of 7 in Florida, Missouri on November 30, 1835. The Clemens later moved to a small town Called Hannibal. Having 6 kids, his parents, Jane and John Clemens often found it difficult to keep up economically. John Clemens worked as a storekeeper, lawyer, judge and

Mark Twain's Influence on American Literature

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by the pseudonym Mark Twain, has been central to American literature for over a century. His seemingly effortless diction accurately exemplified America’s southern culture. From his early experiences in journalism to his most famous fictional works, Twain has remained relevant to American writing as well as pop culture. His iconic works are timeless and have given inspiration the youth of America for decades. He distanced himself from formal writing and

Dialects in American Literature

Dialects in American Literature In the late 19th and early 20th centuries dialect was not common in American Literature. Writers who attempted to accurately capture American dialect and slang often failed to make it believable. In my essay, “Dialects in American Literature,” I will compare and contrast three writers who used dialect in their writings and explain the difference between effective and ineffective use of dialect. The writers I will be discussing are Mark Twain, Bret Harte, and William

Ernest Hemingway's Influence On American Literature

The New World Encyclopedia summaries Hemingway influence on American literature as far-reaching and long lasting. “Hemingway affected writers within his modernist literary circle.” Writers influenced by Hemingway’s style include Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Douglas Coupland and many Generation X writers, as well

Regional American Literature

Journal Entry: Regional American Literature & the South Regional American Literature seems to deal with specific areas and their culture. Culture has evolved throughout the years. Using the South as an example, its culture was clearly defined before the Civil War. The South was comprised mostly of slaves working hard picking cotton until their fingers bled for no pay, white supremacist slave owners quick to bludgeon at the slightest sign of insurgence and the rest of the populace unsure of which

American Literature and Society

Literature is a very powerful tool that is used to make a huge impact on society or in someone’s perspective. Literature comes in different forms and each literature form fits in a certain category or role to help understand the true meaning of it. From playwrights to short stories, each one has moral lesson, a message or a reflection of the author. I have witnessed the power of literature several times. Literature has moved teens to better being; it has motivated unfortunate people to fame, used

Native American Literature

Native American Literature Spending this semester reading Native American Literature, really brought me to make comparisons to my past experience. I think in each story, there was always something significant that seemed similar to my life. There were stories that had similar connections, and as I read them, I put my mind to connect what the author was saying and to what I remember from my life and make a connection. Actually, I thought every story was good and well to understand. For the

Huckleberry Finn Influence On Classic American Literature

been a staple of American classrooms for decades and should remain as such for the foreseeable future. This masterful novel can be better understood in a guided, academic setting, is an integral part of the foundation of American writing, and explores the complex morals and themes of our country’s history in a deft and well thought out manner and as such should remain on required reading lists and in the hands of children and teens across the country. Classic American literature, especially that

What Is Mark Twain's Impact On American Literature

Kandis Eggemeyer Mrs.Cuba ELA lll.6 February, 22 2017 Mark Twain Mark Twain made a huge impact on the American literature used today. His real name is Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain was his pen name). The pen name has to do with his love of the Mississippi River, and his time as a pilot of the beautiful and functional steamboats of the time. The name “Mark twain” was an old term used on the river which meant two fathoms or twelve feet, which indicated safe water. He only went to school until about 12

Influences that Have Shaped American Literature

Influences that Have Shaped American Literature There have been a number of influences that have shaped American literature. From the time that Western Europeans founded the country to the inclusion of Native American lore to the contributions of such literary giants as Mark Twain and Carol Sandburg, the composition of American Literature has been both constant and ever changing. In deed as much as America, itself, is a melting pot of diversity within a cultural concern, so too is this considerable

Characters Lose Their Innocence Throughout American Literature

Characters lose their innocence throughout American literature. What exactly does “losing their innocence” mean? Losing one’s innocence can be seen as a character maturing. A character may lose his/her innocence in ways including viewing of traumatic event, especially one that will scar his/her life forever. Losing one’s innocence can also be caused by losing one’s trust in someone whom he/she once trusted, catching a glimpse into the “real world”, or performing an immoral act. The recurring theme

Varying Definitions of 'America' in American Literature

Varying Definitions of 'America' in American Literature Denotations and connotations inherent in the word "America" in different works of American literature have a number of similarities and differences. Often, the definition of the word is not known at the beginning of a work and one of the thematic elements is the search for the true "America," whatever it may be for the author in question. Many American authors raise the question, "What is America?" and go about answering it in their

The Influence of History on American Literature

be After the Fact…” is how Stephan Crane introduced his harrowing story, “The Open Boat,” but this statement also shows that history influences American Literature. Throughout history, there has been a connection among literary works from different periods. The connection is that History, current events, and social events have influenced American Literature. Authors, their literary works, and the specific writing styles; are affected and influenced by the world around them. Authors have long used experiences

Teaching American Literature in a Time Constrained Condition

fast paced world we live in. As educators and course developers we must change with the times as well. The idea of long, drawn out coursework has come to an end. The direction education is taking us is to teach a curriculum of only 2 works by American authors per class. We, as educators, must choose the most relevant and time honored courses as possible to accomplish this. The works I have chosen are “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving and “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Each of these is

Liberalism in Early American Literature

Liberalism is the foundation of America. This ideology is found in the country’s early fledgling literature and in the very document that made America free. Both the selected works of Phyllis Wheatley and Thomas Jefferson are actively working for the ideology of liberalism, which is a political ideology that is against any system that threatens the freedom of the individual and his natural rights and prevents the individual from becoming all the individual can be, specifically the importance of human

American Literature of the Twentieth Century

in a lot of different ways. Some of the changes were good, and others were not so good. The spirit of loyalty and patriotism were alive and thriving in the air and in everyone's hearts, and the literature of that time greatly reflects the influence that this surge of patriotism brought upon the American peoples. Regionalism and the regional consciousness that came along with it is reflected greatly in many of the works in which we have read. Most all of the authors, including the poets, that

Nora Helmer And Women In American Literature

treatment of these women was also extremely negative; they were expected to stay home and fulfill domestic duties. Literature of this time embodies and mirrors social issues of women in society. Henrik Ibsen uses Nora Helmer in A Doll House to portray the negative treatment of all women throughout society during the nineteenth century. Many women characters throughout American literature reflect the same conflicts and attitudes of Nora in Ibsen's play A Doll House. The role of a woman was inferior

Essay on Literacy in African-American Literature

Levels of Literacy in African-American Literature - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Song of Solomon, and Push Through literacy will come emancipation. So runs a theme throughout the various selections we have read thus far. But emancipation comes in many forms, as does literacy. The various aspects of academic literacy are rather obvious in relation to emancipation, especially when one is confronted with exclusion from membership in the dominant culture. In the various slave narratives

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What Is American Literature Essay

What is American literature and what makes it unique? Find the answer here! This American literature essay gives the definition of the term and focuses on its characteristics: history, authors, periods, and themes.

What Makes American Literature Unique?

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American Literature Definition

American literature refers to the body of written or literary works shaped in the history of the United States and its former colonies ( ). Tracing back America’s history, America was once under the rule of Britain as part of the latter’s colonies therefore its literary institution is associated to the expansive tradition of English literature. However, American literature is now considered a separate course and institution because of its one of a kind American characteristics and the production of its literature.

This paper aims to present an extended definition on the meaning of the term American Literature. The paper will discuss the background of American Literature and how it has came about, the writing style of American authors and what makes the American text different and unique from other national literatures and lastly the paper will present arguments which explore the concept of American literature.

The History of American Literature

Before Columbus and other European colonizers discovered the Americans, the native peoples of the continent have no written alphabet but they expressed their artistic talents and passed on knowledge of their traditions in the form of chants, songs and spoken narratives.

Contrary to the popular Western understanding of literature that they must be principally a result of written words, scholars considered these verbal genres which include trickster tales, jokes, naming and grievance chants, and dream songs, among others as “literary” because they embody the creative and arousing retorts of the people to their Native culture (Baym, Franklin, Gura, Krupat and Levine).

When the Americas was colonized by different empires namely the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, German and English kingdoms, the primary role of writing was to pressure policy makers at these overseas colonies’ home base to rationalize actions taken without their precise consent, or bearing witness to the straight and unintentional cost of European invasion of the Americas.

Writing also documented the dreadful effects of European colonization of the Americas where the unintentional contamination of Old World diseases such as small pox, measles and the like to the Natives and the enslavement of the latter for plantation labour gave strong reactions toward from the public.

Also during the early occupation of the Americas, writing gave opportunities to people who were not born to a life of privilege but were in favour of merit, talent and effort to reshape the possibilities of their life such as Diego del Castillo and John Smith. In the 15 th century New England had a publishing edge over other colonies with Boston’s size in terms of population driven in producing Puritan literature together with the establishment of Harvard University in 1636 which operates with an independent college and printing press.

Though with these efforts the initial state of the English language supremacy was barely evident, political events eventually changed the course and made English the main language for the colonies as well as the choice in writing literature. From 1696 to 1700 the state of American literature consisted only of about 250 published works. These works were mostly about religious, security and cultural concerns of colonial life (Baym, Franklin, Gura, Krupat and Levine).

American Literature: Themes & Style

The war of 1812 which was a quarrel between the Unites States of America and the British empire because of trade restrictions (Hickey 56-58), forced recruitment of American merchant sailors into the Royal Navy, British support to American Indian tribes against American expansion (Hickey 101-104) and uphold national honour in the face of British insults (Risjord 196-210), paved way to the American’s growing aspiration to create a unique American literature and culture separate from that of the English.

The pioneers wrote humorous works about the American frontiers while some wrote romantic and nature inspired poetry which developed away from the early English origins.

Short stories which investigate earlier concealed levels of human psychology and move forward the limits of fiction towards mystery and fantasy were written. The movement of transcendentalism which was a protest to produce a state of culture and society was formed in response to the growing desire of American literary uniqueness. Through this formation radical writings towards individualism in the American character emerged.

Native American autobiographies were also developed and minority authors begun to publish fictions. Allegories and dark psychology became the focus of literary romances sated with philosophical assumptions. Dark Romanticism became popular in American writings presenting the characters as prone to sin and self destruction. “the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of satan , devils , ghosts , werewolves , vampires , and ghouls ” (Thompson, 6).

American literature has been developed through the various influence of Native American’s traditions before writing was introduced coupled by the influences brought about by European conquerors.

Initially American literature was composed of reports and documentations of complaints and status quo of the people in the New World. Writing and literature served as a means of influencing policy makers in developing the civilization, exploring the natural resources and understanding the traditions and cultures of the Native Americans.

Over time American literature evolved into various forms with fiction and non-fiction categories illustrating writers’ sentiments on matters concerning politics, economy, culture, social statuses using artistic imagery or factual resources. American literature further developed into its own form, growing away from its initial sphere of influence, English literature, during the 17 th century creating a unique American characteristic and promoting individualism.

It developed writers of different genres experimenting human emotions, philosophy and psychology. It also gave way to the dark romanticism subgenre which portrays human beings as individuals prone to sin and self destruction. American literature pushed the boundaries of human imagination and creativity with their constant experimentation of emotions and thoughts which can be attributed to the contemporary writers’ attitude of artistic expression and freedom.

Examining literary works from class in understanding the meaning of American literature through different literary works by early writers we can define American literature initially as a body of works chronicling the discovery and acquisition of the Native Americans in its early beginnings.

In relation to the events taking place in the American society, literature in the continent slowly evolved with time influencing its writers and readers the socio-economic norms coupled with the author’s artistic expressions during that specific time of writing. American literature can be considered a mirror of America’s history, well being and characteristic.

It is considered a part of the American culture for it details not only the history of the American people but also reflects the peoples’ creative thoughts and imaginations. American literature is the product of influences brought about by the colonizers from Europe and the subtle native traditions of the early settlers of the United States. It is also a powerful defining tool of American characteristics such as liberalism and individualism.

Baym, Nina, Franklin, Wayne, Gura, Philip, Krupat, Arnold and Levine, Robert. Norton Anthology of American Literature . 7 th ed. Boston: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. American Literature . Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web.

Hickey, Donald. The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict . Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989. Print.

Risjord, Norman. “1812: Conservatives, War Hawks, and the Nation’s Honor.” William And Mary Quarterly 18.2 (1961): 196-210. Print.

Thompson, Gary., ed. Gothic Imagination: Essays in Dark Romanticism. Washington: Washington State University Press, 1974. Print.

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Essay On American Literature

Women in american literature essay.

The Role of Women in American Literature: A Loud call to Action During the mid 1800s, America was a nation struggling to find a definitive cultural identity. Slavery was the dominant economic engine of the Southern States, and the North was beginning to move closer towards industrialization. Native Americans were displaced due to westward expansion, and there was seemingly a cultural battle between religion and critical thought. Those that thrived during this time period were individuals who enjoyed

Departure Of The Sea Analysis

Literature and Environment: An Ecocritical Approach to Haifaa Al-Sanoussi's Departure of the Sea (Abdulhamid Alansary, Dept., of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Arts, Sohag University) ABSTRACT This research paper tries to explain the desire to return to pure nature through the analysis of a work of art ecocritically, namely Haifaa Al-Sanoussi's Departure of the Sea. It also attempts to show how the relationship between man and nature, which had been previously harmonized, has changed

The Importance Of Canadian Literature

Good writers can be found all over the world. Reading literature from other countries is important as it allows students to develop a greater understanding of the world. While international literature is important, Canadian students should prioritize literature native to their country; as this allows students to become familiar with the local literature. Moreover, this is important as it will allow Ontario students to become inspired by Canadian culture, encouraging them to promote along with establishing

Imaginative Literature: The True Meaning Of Literature

The question “what is literature?” doesn’t seem like a difficult question but after thinking about it for a few minutes what is the true meaning of literature? If you googled that question it would tell you that literature is written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit. What written works are considered superior or lasting artistic merit? I believe that literature is imaginative, non-factual but in some ways factual, and it makes changes in the soul of an individual

Uncle Toms Cabin Argument

of Stowe’s novel, James Baldwin’s “Everybody’s Protest Novel”, argued against Uncle Toms Cabin. In Baldwin’s essay he critiques Stowe’s novel quite harshly stating that it is a very bad novel, and it’s a catalogue of violence and emotion. “Everybody’s Protest Novel” was too harsh on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Toms Cabin because Baldwin attacks the author not the actual piece of literature, was not sympathetic to her emotions, and was biased on the subject.

American Literary Summary: The American History Of American Literature

INTRODUCTION AMERICAN LITERATURE American literature is the literature written or produced in the area of the United States and its preceding colonies. During its early history America was a series of British colonies on the eastern coast of the present day United States. Therefore it is literary tradition of English literature. However, unique American characteristics and the breadth of its production usually now cause it to be considered a separate path and tradition. The New England colonies

New Criticism Analysis

specifically American movement, and it is forgotten that in England I.A. Richards and T.S. Eliot were its pioneers. Richards provided the theoretical basis for the technique of verbal analysis of the New School. The term New Criticism was first used by Joel E. Spingarn in an address at Columbia University on, “The New Criticism,” and the address itself may be regarded as the manifesto of the New Criticism. However, the term came into general use after John Crowe Ransom, a great American critic, published

American National Culture Analysis

Tennessee’s impact on American National Culture,” Conkin writes about culture, or more specifically Tennessee’s culture. His essay begins with explaining why no one has really written about a culture within state boundaries, and he doesn’t blame it on a scandal or lack of imagination and interest from scholars, rather he ties it to a problem with adapting a cultural perspective when observing Tennessee’s or any other state’s history. Then Conkin brings about his main point of his essay, which is focused

Henry David Thoreau And The Industrial Revolution

his colleagues of the transcendentalist movement because American’s values were changing into a materialistic minded culture. The Industrial Revolution dates back to the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Previous to the Industrial Revolution, Americans used basic tools or did everything by hand. A shift in powers took place when urbanization, mass production, and factories seemed to be on everybody's minds (Sattelmeyer). Thoreau and others of his group did not follow in America's’ footsteps. They

Washington Irving: The Father Of American Literature

is known as the father of American Literature. He “legitimated the writer as writer, someone distinct from other occupations, and he vindicated the artwork as just that, a work of art and not a vehicle for moral or civic instruction” (Gilmore 661-662). He was the American writer who made authorship profitable. "If the American public wish to have literature of their own," he declared, "they must consent to pay for the support of authors" (669). He was “the first American to make a successful vocation

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A Brief Introduction to American Literature

Romanticism in thanatopsis, by william cullen bryant.

Imagine a candle-lit dinner on a starry night in Paris, the Eiffel Tower just in view with dazzling lights shining into the night. This image is probably what you think of when you hear the word “romantic,” correct. However, this image is a stumbling block when people think of the “Romanticism Period” in literature. Where “romantic” means having a lovely time with the person you love the most, “Romanticism” is a piece of literature written with key themes in mind. Those themes tend to be a strong emotion, imagery or worship of nature, and individuality and subjectivity. The peak of inspiration for these pieces was in the years 1800-1850, and there are famous poems that are well loved today from this period. Many of the poets that you enjoy reading and know are, in actuality, Romanticism writers, and instill the themes above in our minds.

Examples Of Romanticism In The Great Gatsby

The literary movement spread to almost every country in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and it was, “…associated with the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries” (Paddock). Romanticism essentially focuses on branching out from the norm and rebelling from what is “right.” Not to mention, it stressing the individual as opposed to society. Commiserating inner struggles, strong passions, ideas, moods, and

- the Origins of Fiction and American Identity: a Comparison of Irving and Cooper

In this assignment I am going to focus on the origin of American fiction and specifically, I am going to talk about two famous authors who are characteristic of this type of literature. The purpose of this essay is comparing these two writers through their works: Rip Van Winkle and The last of the Mohicans. These writers are Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton And Civil Disobedience By Henry David Thoreau

American History, it has done so much in time that has affected how we live life today and how we interpret things. American Literature reflects that and all it has left us with. Throughout the stories and passages we’ve read this course all of them have left a impact on how and why the writers wrote about what they did. It was all because of American History which later went on and fathered American Literature. American Literature has made society how it is today and painted a vivid picture of how American’s and people live and many of these writers had that in mind when they took these notes.

Romanticism 's Impact On America Essay

The period of Romanticism, occurring between the years 1800 and 1860, left a significant impact on not only the literature of that time, but the literature of today as well. Prior to romantic writings, the world focused on society and logic. Romanticism allowed people to start valuing individualism and to appeal to emotional responses. This new way of thinking brought new literary styles, themes, and genres that were never explored before and are still found today. The literature of Romanticism allowed people to escape the harshness of reality and enter a different world.

The Cask Of Amontillado Romanticism

The American Romantic period of American literature propagated itself throughout the United States and multiple artistic medium from 1800 to 1850. Despite possible confusion caused by the name’s Western implications, this particular literary style originated in Germany with the publication of Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther”. (11. Stories originating from this period were typically about improbable feats of adventure which provided readers with euphoric experiences not typically common in everyday life. (11. Eventually spreading throughout English culture, romanticism soon infected the colossal talents

The Devil And Tom Walker' By Nathaniel Hawthorne

American Romanticism fell between the years of 1800 and 1860. America had just gained its independence from Great Britain followed by a war that ended just 17 years prior to the start of the Romantic period in writing. With America just getting on its feet and finding their voice in literature, they went through what seems to be a more odd stage in literature during this time period. This period in literature could be described as a time of finding idealism, and a time which writing was very subjective and imaginative.

Thomas Paine Research Paper

American literature has been evolving since the dawn of the Puritan exploration and colonization in the early 1600s. From John Smith's books and descriptions of Native American life to the revolutionary ideas of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, literature has had many forms and has taken many ideas across time to interpreted by scholars of today. The early Americans were very successful in creating a style of literature that has a complete web of genres to be examined, as well as some genres being sourced more than others. These distinctions only help to prove the diversity of American literature from 1607 to the present day.

Early American Authors

Through the time from the Colonial period to the Romantic period there has been many influential writings and authors. Many of the works receive a more prominent place in history. From John Smith starting the Colonial Period of writing through Edgar Allan Poe's Romanticzied poems and short stories all hold great places in history. In many respects all the works of the authors and authors themselves all affected the movement of writing periods but some stood out more than others. John Smith, the American Revolutionary War, and Uncle Tom's Cabin are some of the most important and influential steps toward the evolution of American literature.

Colonial Era To The Romantic Era

As America sought to create their own literary voice following the Revolutionary War, the transition from the Colonial Era to the Romantic Era was a notable one, changing the voice of our country throughout the 19th century. Marked by themes of individualism, idealism, and being in touch with nature, Romanticism altered both the art and writing of the time and has certainly left a lasting impact to this day.

What Made Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson Part of the Romantic Movement?

The Romantic Movement, or period, was from the year 1828 to about 1865. The main feature of the American Romantic period was the celebration and praise of individualism. This time is also considered to be the first period of genuine American creativity. Emotion, instead of reason, became the largest source of inspiration and creativity during this period. All of this was a reaction to all of the constraints that were forced on people during the era of Realism. At this time in history, America was in a great period of expansion, the writers of the American Romantic period were discovering that could create a new and vastly different voice for this new era in

Romanticism : Romanticism And Romanticism

Romanticism was a period time 1750 to 1870 in Europe, Latin America and The United States. Romantic Movement didn’t reach to France until the 1820’s. Romanticism main spirit was against of rule, law and formulas that classicism the different characterized of general in 18th century. Imagination, Subjectivity of approach, freedom, Expression and the idealization of nature will be focused in movement of Romantic Literature. In this period industrial revolution with the social and political norms form as age of enlightenment and against of scientific rationalization of nature. Some Literature element of that period will be emotional, imagination and suspense. Romanticism movement brings some of different writes such as John Keats, Blake William, Wordsworth William and other. They came with the different illustrated, poetry that expresses the language, emotion and imagination. Romanticism is a phenomenon characterized by subjectivity of approach and reliance on the imagination, An Idealization of nature and freedom of though and expression.

Summary Of Ralph Waldo Emerson And Nathaniel Hawthorne

Romanticism took place in the early 1800's, it focused on the evolution and the effects nature has upon the universe. This time period helped grasp imagination, emotions, symbolism, and focus on the individual of one's self. I will be evaluating the authors, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne to demonstrate how their works relate to the time era of the 18th century.

The Evolution of American Literature

The Romantic period developed in America in the 19th century, with the Gothic/Romantic stories of Edgar Allan Poe and the quasi-religious, transcendentalist poetry of Ralph Waldo

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Essay on American Literature: Critical Analysis of Amy Tan's Works

Literature is an ocean in which the greatest thoughts have been cultured like the most profound wisdom of the ages. The source of all literary thought is life with all its manifold complexities and dimensions. The literary landscape has been continually growing and flourishing through the interaction of various schools of thought and disciplines. The frontiers of learning have widened to such an extent that learners are pulled into exciting new arenas of thoughts that enrich the reading experience. Literature acts as a medium for interaction that offers different types of contemporary literature. Literature usually refers to the works of creative imagination in different forms.

American Literature is literature written or produced in the United States of America and its preceding colonies (written products which have been produced in the United States). American Literature inspects the cultures and literature of the Americans from the colonial period through the early national period of the United States. Mark Twain was considered the father of American Literature. The history of American literature can be divided into five major periods such as the colonial early national period (17th century to 1830), The Romantic Period (1830 to 1870), Realism and Naturalism (1870 to 1910), The Modernist Period (1910 to 1945) The Contemporary Period (1945 to present). American literature is very significant for the education of people as it discloses the culture and history of the United States. Moreover, American literature prevailed in various countries gives outsiders the chance to get to know about American culture, history and literary works of the great authors better.

Major themes prevailed in American literature like the dreams of American, loss of innocence/coming age, alienation and isolation. American writers produced their work in unique ways to express their experience. American literature possesses basic characteristics like other literature such as plots, settings, images, and themes. It incorporates the notion of Americans and makes certain places known. The history of American literature prolonged more than 400 years. The most prominent writers are Willa Cather, James Fenimore Cooper, Emily Faulker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost, Nathaniel Hawthrone, Ernest Hemingway, Washington Irving, Harper Lee, Jack London, Herman Melville, Margaret Mitchell, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

A novel is an extended, fabricated narrative that narrates the confidential human experiences. The novel in the present days usually makes use of literary prose style. It has been considered as a main type of genre. There are many types of novels such as the historical novel, picaresque, sentimental, gothic, psychological, the novel of manner, epistolary, apprenticeship, etc., Novel consists of particular, theme, plotline and same purpose behind it. (female writers)

Amy Tan belongs to the twentieth-century American writer. Ernest Hemingway and F.scott Fitzgerald are the contemporaries of Amy Tan. This period has been considered of Amy Tan. This has been considered as an eventful which would follow the imprint of world wars. Twentieth-century has seen many new literary theories with critic such as Edgar Allan Poe is known for Dark Romanticism, short-story theory, T.S.Eliot named for modernism, Stephen Greenblatt known for New Historicism. Stanley Fish-pragmatism, Harlod Bloom – Aestheticism, John Updike – literary realism/ modernism and aesthetic critic, F.O. Matthiessen originated the concept “American Renaissance”, Perry Hiller – puritan studies, Henry Nash Smith is the founder of the “Myth and symbol school” of American criticism. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick – Queer theory, Gloria.Anzaldua – Latin literary theory.

At the beginning of the 20th century, American novelists were extending fiction to enclose both high and low life and sometimes connected to the naturalist realism school. Political writings began to existence which described the social issues and the power of corporations. The race was a general issue as well as seen in Pauline Hopkins’s works. The action-packed period that followed the war left its mark upon books of all kinds. Similarly, female writers gained frames through their novels that register their own experience.

The 1920s got sharp changes to American literature. Many writers had a straight experience of the First World War and they utilized it to produce their writings which create an impact on those days. Experimentation in style and form soon connected the bloomed freedom in the subject matter. T.S.Eliot wrote spare, cerebral poetry, carried by a dense structure of symbols. This century would be considered as a modern century and the major themes in this era are alienation, conversion, depletion and the connection of truth. These themes reflect the well-defined sensibilities of both modernist and postmodern aesthetic movements. The 20th century gave support to marginalized people in earlier they got little recognition for their literary participations. The Harlem Renaissance is an example, lead African-American livelihood in New York to form a strong literary movement.

Amy Tan was born on February 19, 1952. She is an American writer. Her works expressed the mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese- American experience. Amy Tan has a Chinese background because her forefathers were born and brought up in China. Tan’s first novel, The Joy Luck Club, consists of sixteen related stories about the experiences of four Chinese American mother-daughter pairs. Tan’s second novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife also center on the connection between an immigrant Chinese mother and her American – born daughter. Tan’s next novel, The Hundred Secret Senses, was a deviation from the previous two novels; this novel centered the sister’s relationships. Tan’s next novel, The Bonesetter’s Daughter backs the theme of an immigrant Chinese woman and her American – born daughter.

Phenomenology criticism is the consciousness of consciousness. In this theory, the reader culls out the meaning of the text. Consciousness is a requisite for any experience. Phenomenology is studying literature as a product of consciousness. Phenomenological theory in literature is concerning the literary product as an arbitrator between the consciousness of the author and reader. The modern originator of phenomenology is the German philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) who tries to make philosophy ‘a rigorous science’ by back its observation. “To the things themselves”. In literature, Phenomenology is the study of forms of consciousness as experienced from the first-person point of view.

Phenomenology, as its word suggests, is concerned to narrate the fundamental human experience. The word phenomena are derived from the Greek for ‘appearance’. Phenomenology aims to describe how the world must occur to the artless observer, the loot of all presumption and culturally imposed expectations. Husserl is not proclaimed, the real world does not exist, then involving individual attention to the assumptions. To make human beings experience the real world at all. He stated that all consciousness is intentional. This means that everyone is aware of doing things.

essay about american literature

This is clarified by acknowledging the centrality of Husserl’s claims. He proclaims that all consciousness has intention. This means that people are always conscious of something (and never just conscious). (add phenomenology)

Amy Tan’s novel The Valley of Amazement is about fate, affection, recognition, and owning. These aspects are described through the experience of three generations of women. The difficulties they faced and separation, but also give them the drive to get back into their lives. Only then can they start to heal from the challenges they’ve encountered. Through that healing, they begin to view their lives and difficulties in a new vision because they’re able to realize their lives through each one’s eyes. The main relationship featured in The Valley of Amazement is a mother and her daughter.

The novel opens with violet’s introduction about herself. She was very proud to recognize herself as an American girl. Lulu Minturn, mother of violet, a white woman owned a first-class courtesan house in Shanghai in China. Her mother named her daughter, violet after a tiny flower she loved as the girl was growing up in San Francisco. Lulu Mimi’s English translation is Hidden Jade Path. Violet narrated the incident where she was insulted because of her Chinese race. Violet knew to speak in Chinese. She was isolated by all the other students in Jewel’s Academy for girls where Violet studied. She attacked them and fought with them. Here Amy Tan introduces Violet as a strong girl who fought against injustice. She was proud to be an American rather than Chinese.

Violet unknowingly spoke a hodgepodge of English, Chinese, and the Shanghainese dialect. Lulu Mimi also spoke Chinese to her clients. Violet was perplexed about her race because Lulu Mimi spoke Chinese but she was an American girl. What race did Violet belong to? She started searching for the answer. Amy Tan expressed her view through the character Violet who says that Chinese girls learned only how to behave, whereas American girls learned all the subjects. Violet was a free little girl who wandered all over Hade Hidden Path. Lulu insisted on the ghost were the superstitious beliefs of Chinese fear. Amy Tan expelled Chinese behavior and the attitude they followed. Violet had a golden fox cat with which she spent her time and it was the best friend to her. Amy got away from the context and described a hundred years old ghost in that place, Poet Ghost. Still, some believed that the poet Ghost wandered over there. The courtesans in the house were known as Cloud Beauties. Each had the word cloud in her name and that identified the house to which she belonged. When they left the house, the word cloud evaporated from their name. The cloud beauties were Rosy Cloud, Billowy Cloud, Snowy Cloud, and Magic Cloud. Mimi set rules on how they should conduct business with the guests and what share of their earnings and expenses they should pay to the house. Golden Dove managed the courtesans’ behavior and appearance and ensured that they upheld the standard and the reputation of a first-class house. Violet described her mother’s beauty and how she approached her client. This made Violet irritated about her mother’s attitude because she did not know about her father and did not know the reason why her mother was doing this business. Though it was legal in China, it seemed to be a vulgar business to her while watching these things like a little one.

Violet described the courtesan house which was divided as a high-class courtesan with more privacy and low-class courtesan with less privacy. Lulu Mimi and Golden Dove always busy in their work but still as a mother Mimi took care of her daughter’s studies, often questioned Violet. Violet stood behind the room ad overheard all the beauties romantic talk with their patrons and she tried to peep into the room. While watching the courtesan’s life inside the house Violet was afraid of her future. She thought about herself if she would become a courtesan. She never watched her mother with her lovers. She was not happy with her mother’s business. Then she stopped to spy on the Cloud Beauties after that. Ned Peaver delivered a letter to Lulu. He was a soldier during the Boxer Rebellion. It took place in 1900 when violet was two years old. When the Chinese starved to death.

It was violet’s fourteenth birthday. There was a grand celebration with more firecrackers. It was a day when Yuan-Shikai would soon set up as president of the new Republic of China. It was February 12, 1912, and the emperor dowager Longue had just signed the abdication on behalf of her six years old nephew, emperor Puyi, on the condition that she could remain in the palace and retain his possessions. Manchu rule was over. They had been expecting this day since October when the new army staged a mutiny in Wuchang. Amy Tan gave a historical note about the ching dynasty which was against the people and it was an imperial rule. Meanwhile, the guests at Lulu’s parties did not meet in the middle for several days. The western men remained on their side of the social clubs and the Chinese men remained in the courtesan house.

There was a revolution against the Ching dynasty. Li Shing, the biological father of Violet arrived to call Lulu to see her son in San Francisco. Violet stood behind the curtain and overheard all the chattings. At first, Lulu was against him when he spoke about the son. She calmed herself and planned to go to san Francisco. While Violet came to know this. She was happy about her father who was alive but worried about her brother because of whom she would leave for another place. She thought that she may love him more than her. Violet imagined that Lulu sacrificed a country(Shanghai) where they survived for so long time and the friends to see her son. This important might lead her to love him more than her. Like this, she was occupied more with it. Fairweather, a client who was hatred by violet was loved by Lulu Minturn. He spoke sweetly and helped to get the certificate for violet with the father’s name as Fairweather. He asked Lulu that he would pick up Violet because his name was mentioned as her father in the certificate. Lulu Minturn also accepted all these formalities to see her son. Violet refused to go with him but Lulu convinced her to go along with him.

Fairweather cheated them and left Violet in another courtesan house. She was very stubborn and refused to stay there. She screamed and shouted but no one was ready to listen to that voice. Mother Li was the head of the Courtesan house. She gave pills to Violet which made her sleep for most of the day. Though she was grown up in courtesan house and her mother was a courtesan, she never accepted herself as a courtesan. When she woke up, she met Magic Ground. Once she was very close with her in the Hidden Jade Path. Amy Tan expelled the fate that a woman can’t overcome it. The Hall of Tranquility was full of protection and so she could not go out. Even Magic Ground said that they had to accept the fate. Violet was always proud to be recognized as an American girl that made her accept the situation. The innocence was caught up by fate. For a long time, they left her to adopt the situation. Mother Li otherwise beat her and made her sick. No one can change the woman’s fate unless and until she does it for her. Though the courtesan house was legal in those days in China, she was not ready to accept it. Magic Ground narrated her story because she suffered at many hands at the age of eleven. Violet waited so long to change herself and tried to get rid of it. As she could not resist finally she surrendered to mother Li, which means to fate.

Magic Gourd advised the young Violet on how to become popular while avoiding cheapskates, false love and suicide. She spoke about the reputation to maintain the first position in the house. To enlighten the patron, courtesans must know to sing, recite poems and physical beauty played a major role. This narration details about courtesan life. So it shows that violet accepted the situation and ready to become a courtesan. Only two things one can do to solve a problem one is to accept it and another is to refuse. Her angry voice could no longer stand and it did not make a change. So she accepted the situation. She was little and she did not know how to survive in the outside world. Magic Gourd spoke about patrons and cheapskates who asked her to work toward the Four Necessities: jewelry, furniture, a seasonal contract with a stipend and a comfortable retirement. Amy Tan shows that they are not supposed to forget love. Magic Gourd insists on illusions to attack the patrons. This chapter was full of narrations of advice to get ready for the defloration.

It was party time. Loyalty Fang was going to choose his courtesan. Magic Gourd and Violet dressed up well and were waiting. Amy Tan introduces Loyalty Fang’s richness and love for him. Violet saw him as an ordinary man. Violet seemed to be an innocent girl who was unaware of the situation. Magic Gourd did many things to divert loyalty fang’s attention to violet. She pinched violet to serve the patrons in the party. Finally, loyalty fang looked at her and asked her to entertain him to recite or sing. Unprepared Magic Grourd asked her to sing a song. Violet hesitated to do it and struggle to sing a song. This scene shows violet’s childish behavior, sometimes she forgot lines and managed to sing. Loyalty Fang knew that she was not well prepared but he requested her to sit beside him. Violet started to admire him. He then narrated his childhood event to violet. He said that they had already met in hidden Jade Path seven years before. Violet felt that he became a known person to her. She was proud and excited herself among all the courtesans. She won his heart and made her stand unique. When he was busy with his friends, suddenly he turned and asked about his investment to violet. She shared her knowledge and he also accepted it. He was amazed and praised him. This meeting created a strong desire for her future with Loyalty Fang. Violet would like to marry him but he married another girl his family compulsion. Her dream remained a dream. This innocent girl’s hope for the future was destroyed. She had to accept the fate. He left her and she was betrayed by her foolishness.

After many years, she became a popular courtesan and unpopular, sometimes. Many patrons she had taken and done her duty. She happened to meet Edward Ivory who was suggested by Loyalty Fang. He came to the house and attended the party before violet. Edward Ivory mocked violet as the first-class courtesans which mean number one whore in the house, this irritated violet so she hatred Edward Ivory. Then he asked pardon for many times to convince violet. This made a good relationship between them. Edward Ivory and violet spent separate time by walking in public road and going to temples. Fortunately violet got the true love; so long she had been waiting for Edward Ivory also was true to her. He revealed his first marriage to violet and said that he disliked her. His first wife, Minerva cheated him saying that he was the cause for her pregnancy and married him. So he hated her and loving violet. When he came to know Violet is pregnant he paid money to courtesan house and got violet out as his own. They stayed in a separate house. Violet was very happy because she got what she wanted so far. The new true life for violet began.

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The History of American Literature

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The history of American Literature begins well before this land was even called America. It has been a fantastic evolution to come from tribal symbols and drawings to today’s Stephen King and Danielle Steele. Literature has actually gone through lots of phases and was impacted by excellent events and concepts in American history. The earliest kind of literature in what would one day be referred to as America were far from what contemporary individuals would think about “Literature”. The Natives who inhabited this land initially had unwritten methods of handing down experiences, beliefs, and stories.

Locals relied heavily on the spoken telling of these stories to younger generations.

The same stories, myths, or belief structures were told consistently, each time similar to the last, and were memorized by the listeners so they would have the ability to pass these on to the next generation. They also utilized pictures, carvings, or special mementos such as bones, teeth, feathers, or skins as pointers of terrific hunts or wars.

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If an entire people and all its descendants were killed off, the specific stories and history of that tribe would likewise be gone. Other tribes might speak of the first, but never in the very same information or with the very same point of view as the initial people members.

Long before settlers gotten here in America, explorers reported on their voyages to the continent. Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci offered some of the earliest European descriptions of the American continent. Before 1600 Sir Walter Raleigh, Richard Hakluyt, Thomas Harriot, and John White had actually released accounts of discoveries.

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The works of Captain John Smith, an explorer whose travels took him up and down the eastern seaboard of America, represent a shift from expedition story towards early history. Early histories, however, were composed mostly by inhabitants rather than by explorers.

William Bradford, the first governor of the Plymouth Colony, wrote his Of Plymouth Plantation from 1620 to 1647 . Another important historian of early America was Thomas Morton, whose New English Canaan used humor in portraying what he considered to be the overbearing and intolerant qualities of the Puritans . Histories of early America, especially in New England, were filled with references to the Bible and to God’s will. Nearly all events could be explained from this religious perspective: Foul weather and diseases were perceived as God’s wrath; a bountiful harvest represented God’s blessing.

Given the Puritans’ relationship with God, it is not surprising that sermons and other religious writings dominated literature in America in the 1600s. John Cotton, Thomas Hooker, Roger Williams, and John Winthrop were among the most prominent religious writers. A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mary Rowlandson (1682). This work is a firsthand account by a colonist who was taken captive by Indians during King Philip’s War. It presents a dramatic tale of suffering and of Rowlandson’s efforts to make sense of that suffering. Her story became the model for a new genre of early American literature: captivity narratives.

Such accounts became staples of American literature and eventually provided material for American fiction. While still religious in tone and purpose, captivity narratives emphasized the experiences of individuals. They also incorporated many of the fundamentals of fiction, making use of characters, dramatic action and setting. The Salem witch trials of 1692 were another period in early American history that affected literature. As accusations of witchcraft in a Massachusetts town resulted in the execution of 14 women and 6 men, Cotton Mather’s The Wonders of the Invisible World (1693) documented the events of the witch trials.

Cotton Mather remained an important literary figure in the 18th century. His Magnalia Christi Americana (The Great Works of Christ in America, 1702) is a history of New England that celebrates the founding generation of Puritans. Like his earlier works, it is religious; however, its interest in the human side of the Puritan founders marked a new achievement in American literary history. Mather’s rewarding career included writings on science and medicine as well as theology and history. His Sentiments on the Small Pox Inoculated (1721) was instrumental in introducing the smallpox vaccine to New England.

A new genre for American writers, the travel narrative, would become especially influential late in the 1700s. Travel narratives include Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America (1778) by Jonathan Carver and Travels Through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc (1791) by William Bartram . Travel stories often blended observations on nature and landscape with tales of personal courage and achievement. The first American newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, was founded in 1704, and joined by the Boston Gazette in 1719.

At a time when newspaper journalism was concerned primarily with reporting political events, the New-England Courant, started by James Franklin in 1721, became the first newspaper to include literary entertainment. Franklin’s younger brother Benjamin Franklin published humorous social commentary in the Courant under the pen name of Silence Dogwood . Magazines also appeared for the first time in the colonies during the mid-1700s. Before 1800 magazines were concerned primarily with measuring America’s developing culture against the British model.

During the 1700s Boston and Philadelphia became centers of publishing in addition to being political and commercial centers. Benjamin Franklin was key in establishing a writing community in Philadelphia. In 1727 he and a group of friends established a men’s reading club in Philadelphia called the Junto . Members shared printed works and discussed topics of the day. Such reading and discussion clubs became an important part of American culture. Women organized literary circles in the 1750s and 1760s. These groups, known as salons, resembled men’s reading clubs.

They also encouraged members to compose their own work, mainly poetry, but very few of these works were preserved. By the mid-1700s American writing was primarily political. In America the 18th century was known as the Age of Enlightenment. Americans held a growing belief in the supremacy of reason over church; they also stressed the importance of the individual and freedom over authorities and institutions. America’s great Enlightenment writers included Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson, who also played important roles in the American Revolution.

Thomas Paine became a leading figure in the cause of American independence with the pamphlet Common Sense (1776). This enormously popular political document stated that the American colonies received no advantage from Great Britain and that common sense called for them to establish an independent republican government. Written in a straightforward style using the language of the common person, Common Sense was published just months before the Declaration of Independence was adopted. At that point, most colonists still believed that their grievances with Great Britain could be settled peaceably.

Paine shook this belief, making his readers feel that each person had the power and responsibility to participate in the revolution. The Declaration of Independence was a crucial achievement in both politics and American prose. It was structured in the form of an assertion that was then proven through specific examples. The declaration was written by a committee made up of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston, though Jefferson was ultimately responsible for most of the writing .

The declaration and the Constitution of the United States (1787) were key statements of American freedom, but as collaborative documents they necessitated compromises to satisfy all of their authors. One of the most significant compromises was the absence of any mention of slavery. Slavery was unethical from the views of the American Revolution, but for the sake of unity with the Southern colonies, whose (cotton) economy was rooted in slavery, no protest was made against it. A final flurry of political writing at the close of the century arose from the debate over ratification of the Constitution.

Federalists supported the strong central government outlined in the Constitution, while an anti-Federalist faction opposed it. A series of essays supporting ratification was published in 1787 and 1788 and circulated in pamphlets. The essays, later published as The Federalist, were written by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay . Slave narratives recorded another side of life in America. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789) has long been considered an important African American text.

American fiction was formally established after the American Revolution. The Power of Sympathy (1789), a tragic love story by William Hill Brown, is generally considered the first American novel . Another Literary milestone was Hannah Foster’s The Coquette (1797), a novel in the form of letters, or an epistolary novel. Over the course of the 19th century the country progressed from an agricultural economy concentrated on the Eastern coast to an industrialized nation that spanned the continent. With the dramatic changes in the nation came dramatic changes in its literature.

At the start of the 1900’s only a handful of novels had been written, but by mid-century American fiction rivaled the best in the world. Biography and history remained strong; religious writing, on the other hand, had substantially declined in importance. Among the first developments of the young nation was the realization that America had its own language and that American English differed from British English. Noah Webster, noting the unique American styles in language and literature, undertook the massive project of developing an American dictionary.

He had already advocated changes in American spellings of English words in such writings as Dissertations on the English Language (1789) . Webster published his first dictionary in 1806. The first edition of his major work, American Dictionary of the English Language, came out in 1828. What made this work radical was his insistence on defining words based not only on traditional English usage but also on American variations in usage, called Americanisms, and his inclusion of at least 12,000 new words not previously recognized by English dictionaries. Gaining independence also provided the United States with a history of its own.

Samuel Miller’s A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century (1803) was a history of 18th-century America, including the Revolution. Best known among these patriotic histories was the monumental ten-volume History of the United States (1834-1876) by George Bancroft, who is often called the father of American history . America’s westward expansion after the Louisiana Purchase generated a sizable collection of political writings, especially in light of manifest destiny? a belief that the country’s territorial expansion was not only inevitable but also divinely ordained.

The term manifest destiny was coined by writer John Louis O’Sullivan in “Annexation,” an article that argued for the annexation of Texas and appeared in the July-August 1845 issue of United States Magazine and Democratic Review . The Native American experience began to be told in autobiography. William Apess was the first Native American to produce extensive writings in English. In A Son of the Forest (1829) he described his conversion to Christianity and his participation in the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain . The greatest development in American biography was the slave narrative.

The tension produced by slavery in America had already become apparent by the Revolution, but it heightened considerably in the 1800s, right up until the American Civil War (1861-1865). Frederick Douglass created a masterpiece of the genre with Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), a work that he revised and enlarged several times for later editions. While describing his life as a slave and his struggle toward freedom, Douglass emphasized the primary role that literacy played in opening opportunities for African Americans.

He represented his ability to write his own story as the ultimate act of a free man . Harriet Jacobs offered a different but no less upsetting representation of slavery in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). In the book, Jacobs told of the sexual abuse experienced by young female slaves. During the late 1700s and early 1800s, romanticism was the dominant literary genre in Europe. In reaction to the Enlightenment and its emphasis on reason, romanticism used emotion and imagination. Until about 1870 romanticism influenced the major forms of American writings: transcendentalist writings, historical fiction, and sentimental fiction.

In New England, an intellectual movement known as transcendentalism developed as an American version of romanticism. The movement began among an influential set of authors based in Concord, Massachusetts, and was led by Ralph Waldo Emerson . Like romanticism, transcendentalism rejected both 18th-century rationalism and established religion, which for the transcendentalists meant Puritan traditions. The transcendentalists found their inspiration in nature and rejected materialism. Emerson’s essay “Nature” (1836) was the first major document of the transcendental school.

His other key transcendentalist works include “Self-Reliance” (1841), an essay in which he stressed the importance of being true to one’s own nature. Henry David Thoreau, a friend of Emerson’s, put transcendentalist ideas into action. Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854) is his journal of a two-year experiment in living as simply and self-reliantly as possible in a small cabin that he built on the shores of Walden Pond, near Concord. His essay “Civil Disobedience” (1849) is a statement against government intimidation that records his short stay in jail after he refused to pay a tax in support of the Mexican War (1846-1848).

New England writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was a master of historical fiction. Influenced to some extent by transcendentalism, Hawthorne’s views of the movement were mixed. His novel The Blithedale Romance (1852) is loosely based on a transcendentalist experiment in communal living at Brook Farm. Still, Hawthorne’s work, with its deep ethical concern about sin, punishment, and atonement, is less optimistic than most transcendental writing. Hawthorne was a descendant of one of the judges at the Salem witch trials, and he set many of his works in Puritan New England and during early crises in American history .

The Scarlet Letter (1850), a story of rebellion within an emotionally constricted Puritan society, is an undisputed masterpiece in its powerful psychological insights. Mosses from an Old Manse (1846) collects some of his best short stories and sketches, including “Roger Malvin’s Burial” and “Young Goodman Brown. ” Herman Melville became a close friend of Hawthorne’s after Melville moved to Massachusetts in 1850. He worked on several whaling ships and lived life at sea. His early travel adventures brought Melville early success.

Ironically, Melville’s popularity dropped after the publication of the book now considered a masterpiece of American fiction, Moby Dick (1851). Far removed from his earlier travel narratives, Moby Dick was dedicated to Hawthorne, and like Hawthorne’s work was darkly metaphysical, symbolic, and complex. The story of the captain of a whaling boat, Ahab, and his relentless hunt for one whale, Moby Dick is also about the mysterious forces of the universe that overwhelm the individual who seeks to confront and struggle against them.

Written in a powerful and varied narrative style, the book includes a magnificent sermon delivered before the ship’s sailing, monologues by the ships’ mates, and passages of a technical nature, such as a chapter about whales. While transcendentalism was deeply optimistic, celebrating human creativity and the beauty of nature, Hawthorne and Melville demonstrated that asking questions about the nature of the universe could lead to answers showing the darker side of life. Edgar Allan Poe was another writer who inverted transcendentalist thoughts.

In his disturbing prose and poetry, Poe explored the nature of humanity and frightened readers with what he found. His tales are obsessed with death, madness, and violence demonstrated in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840). Poe also invented the detective story with such works as “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841) and “The Purloined Letter” (1844). The sentimental novel is a major form of American fiction that grew out of the responses of white writers to slavery. The most famous and historically most significant work of American sentimental fiction is Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851) by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Sentimental fiction aimed to stir up pity for the oppressed. In Stowe’s novel and in novels that followed in this tradition, pity for the oppressed did not necessitate revolutionary change but rather called for an outpouring of Christian love. Sentimental fiction elicited this “Christian” sympathy from Northern white women in particular by demonstrating how the slave system violated the most basic bonds of humanity, such as that between mother and child. President Abraham Lincoln is credited with having greeted Stowe with “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!

” Uncle Tom’s Cabin was powerful as propaganda and expressed the deep antislavery feelings of the North. Two movements became increasingly important in American fiction after the Civil War: regionalism and realism. As the country expanded in area and population, regional differences became more apparent and of greater interest, especially to people in the established cultural centers of the East. Increasing urbanization and the expansion of the railroads had made more of the country accessible. Regional literature would do the same. Post-Civil War America was large and diverse enough to sense its own local differences.

With increasing urbanization and more accessible transportation, small, rural communities became a subject of literary interest. As early as 1820 America had developed a taste for fiction with specific, localized settings and topics. Toward mid-century, regional voices had emerged from newly settled territories in the South and to the west of the Appalachian Mountains. In many of these works local dialects, sayings, and spellings were used for humor. Tales of the West also became a popular form of regional writing and created frontier outlaws and heroes, such as Billy the Kid.

These tales were especially suited to the short-story form. 1860 introduced dime novels? inexpensive tales with exciting plots intended for popular entertainment . The first dime novels were set during key events of early American history such as the Revolutionary War, but plots soon incorporated frontier lore, conflicts between cowboys and Indians, and the taming of the West for white settlement. Dime novels may be seen as precursors of the Western, a genre that would reach the height of its popularity in the first half of the 20th century.

Ever since even before the White man set foot on this continent, America has had its own way of written communication. Everything from politics, religion, westward expansion, wars, and technology has altered and improved literature. Our society has shifted from taking influences from other societies’ writings, to being influential. Many social issues still greatly impact literature even today; everything from wars, celebrity gossip, science fiction adventures, real life traumas, and talking animals can result in the newest book on top the Best Seller List.

Amidst the downward tendency and proneness of things, when every voice is raised for a new road or another statute, or a subscription of stock, for an improvement in dress, or in dentistry, for a new house or a larger business, for a political party, or the division of an estate, ? will you not tolerate one or two solitary voices in the land, speaking for thoughts and principles not marketable or perishable? Soon these improvements and mechanical inventions will be superseded; these modes of living lost out of memory; these cities rotted, ruined by war, by new inventions, by new seats of trade, or the geologic changes: ?

all gone, like the shells which sprinkle the seabeach with a white colony to-day, forever renewed to be forever destroyed. – Bibliography Apess, William. A Son of the Forest and Other Writings < http://www. questia. com/PM. qst? a=o&d=23008220> (7 November 2005) “Declaration of Independence” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Declaration_of_Independence_%28United_States%29? > (2 November 2005) “Dime Novel” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Dime_novel> (3 November 2005) “Dissertation on the English Language” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Dissertation_on_the_English_Language> (7 November 2005) Emerson, Ralph Waldo.

“The Transcendentalist” < http://www. emersoncentral. com/transcendentalist. htm> (19 November 2005) “The Federalist” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Federalist> (2 November 2005) “Frederick Douglass” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Frederick_Douglass> (3 November 2005) “Gustavus Vassas” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Gustavus_Vassa> (7 November 2005) “History of Plymouth Plantation” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_Plymouth_Plantation> (1 November 2005) “Jonathan Carver” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Jonathan_carver> (2 November 2005) “Junto” Wikipedia < http://en.

wikipedia. org/wiki/Junto> (2 November 2005) “List of People Known as the Father or Mother of Something” Wikipedia (2 November 2005) “Manifest Destiny” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Manifest_destiny> (13 November 2005) Mumford, Carla. Teaching the Literature of Early America. New York, NY: The Modern Language Association of America, 1999 “Nathaniel Hawthorne” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Nathaniel_Hawthorne> (3 November 2005) The Norton Anthology of Literature, Sixth Ed. Volume B. (New York: Norton & Company), 1103. “Silence Dogwood” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Silence_Dogwood> (2 November 2005).

Sudnquist, Eric. To Wake the Nations. Cambridge, Mass. : The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1993 “Thomas Morton” The Heath Anthology of American Literature (1 November 2005) “Transcendentalism” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Transcendentalism> (3 November 2005) Tyler, Moses Coit. The Literacy History of the American Revolution Volume II 1763-1783. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co. , 1957 “William Bartram” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/William_Bartram> (2 November 2005) “William Hill Brown” Wikipedia < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/William_Hill_Brown> (3 November 2005).

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The History of American Literature

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Essay on American Literature

Phinney (1996) claims culture and society have three distinct identifiers, behaviours and attitudes, feeling of membership, and experience. The latter specifically a direct outcome of the minority group. American literature is usually centred on the ideals of the nation. It should entail the story of the character and his place in American and its people. American literature combines freedom, hope, and hardship. Struggle, be it internal or external, seemed to be a major theme in some of the narratives we read ( Many works by African American authors had freedom as their primary objective, and optimism is what motivates us to continue working for equality now. Works of literature that are primarily authored in the English language and are published in the U. S. and its colonial empires are what fall under my description of “American Literature. They are a body of literally or written works that go as back as the heart of American history. ”

My assessment is premised on the reality that because it was formerly a British colony, its literary heritage is deeply ingrained in the English language. American literature is generally regarded as having its origins in the 17th century. This writing was greatly impacted by the historical developments that took place in the country that produced it. America was really little more than a bunch of sovereign colonies at the dawn of human history. The United States started to generate literature in the early years after gaining independence from England that was different from the European tradition. This literature started the process of developing our cultural ideas by emphasizing American principles. It originally consisted of a variety of publications and reports on people living in the New World. All of this had an influence on the decision-makers who were growing the country at the time.

The United States had grown to encompass all directions by the end of the 19th century, including the west, south, and north. My research taught me that because of the distinctive characteristics that it possesses in the American context, it has recently been broken off into its own class. In this paper I intend to identify and engage you in an extended version of the American literature purview. The development of American literature involved many contributors, and it is primarily made up of works from five different historical periods: the colonial and early period, which took place in the seventeenth century; the romantic era; naturalism and realism; the modernist era; and the modern era. What is currently recognized as the corpus of American literature in this country is made up of all of them.

The word “American” connotes freedom and faith in the American dream, in my opinion. The native inhabitants of the continent did not have a written text until Columbus and other invaders discovered the Americans. they used chants, songs, and oral tales to display their artistic abilities and pass on information of their traditions (Baym, et al, 34-38). I was taught in school all throughout my childhood that being an American meant being patriotic; it meant believing in the “Land of the Free,” the red, white, and blue, and having access to equal opportunities for all. But as I got older, my opinions began to shift, even though I still acknowledge that many Native Americans and African Americans who were held in slavery did not share these ideals when they were created. Scholars regarded these verbal genres, that included trickster narratives, humor, naming and grievance slogans, and dream songs (Phinney, 19), amongst many others, as “literary” since they exemplify the imaginative and energizing responses of the individuals to their Native philosophy, in contrast to the common Western comprehension of literary works that they must be primarily the result of actual text.

Writing provided opportunity to those who were not born into an existence of advantage but were in favor of excellence, aptitude, and determination to modify the prospects of their living, like John Smith and Diego del Castillo, during the early settlement of the Americas. With Boston’s magnitude in terms of population driving the production of Puritan literature and the 1636 founding of an autonomous institution and printing press at Harvard University, New England enjoyed a publishing advantage over other colonies in the 15th century (Baym, et al, 104-107).

Even if with these endeavors the English language dominance was initially hardly noticeable, political affairs ultimately altered the path and made English the preferred language for literary production and the primary language for the territories. American literature only had roughly 250 published works between 1696 and 1700. The majority of these pieces dealt with issues related to colonial life’s religion, security, and culture.

Being an American still entails feeling proud of both our Native American and African American cultures, both of which, although not being mentioned in our constitution, contributed significantly to the wealth of our nation and the American literature. Being American today means that if you were born in America, regardless of what you look like or what language you speak. Being American is having pride of all the various diversity and cultures that helped create the modern-day United States of America, not just the ones that conquerors claimed to be native to the country. American literature, in my opinion, is literature that was created mostly in the US and its former colonies and is published in English.

Because it was once dominated by Britain, my guiding principle is that English literature has had a significant influence. Beginning in the 17th century, American literature was influenced by the history of the nation that produced it. America was once only a collection of colonies for many years. Initially on after the U.S separated from England, it started to produce literature that was different from the European tradition, placed an emphasis on American Values, and began to form our cultural ideals. It was first made up of records and reports regarding New World citizens. All of that had an impact on policymakers as they expanded the nation. The United States had grown westward, southerly, and northward by the beginning of the twentieth century.

The American aspiration to establish a distinctive American literature and culture was sparked by the 1812 War, a conflict between the U. S. and the British Empire over trade restrictions, the forced conscription of American merchant seamen into the British Navy, Britain’s aid for Native American tribes opposing American expansion, and upholding national honor in the face of Royal epithets (Risjord 196-210). Before writing was invented, Native American traditions had a significant impact on American literature, as did the inspirations brought on by these European conquistadors. Early American literature was made up of accounts and records of grievances and the class of the inhabitants of the Modern World (Phinney 45). Literature and Writing were used to influence decision-makers in the development of civilization, exploration of natural resources, and comprehension of Native American customs and cultures (Hickey 56-58).

American literature has taken on many distinct forms over the ages, with both non-fiction and fiction fields used to express literature writers’ sentiments on subjects like social stratification, culture, the economy, and politics using artistic factual sources or images. During the 17th century, American literature continued to evolve into its identifiable style, moving away from its original source of inspiration, English literature, giving the country its distinct identity and encouraging individualism. It encouraged writers of various genres to experiment with the philosophy, psychology, and emotions of people. It also paved the path for the gloomy romanticism subgenre, which presents people as fallible creatures capable of sinning and self-destruction. Because of the modern writers’ approach of artistic expression and independence, American literature consistently experiments with emotions and thoughts, pushing the limits of human creativity and imagination.

Some of the pioneers created nature-inspired and romantic poetry that diverged from its initial English beginnings, while others composed comic poems about the American frontier. Short stories that explore earlier, unexplored facets of human psyche and push the boundaries of fiction in the direction of mystery and fantasy have been published. As the demand for American literary originality grew, the transcendentalism movement—which was a revolt to establish a state of society and culture born. Radical texts supporting individualistic American character appeared as a result of this emergence.

Conclusively, Native American memoirs were created, and minority authors started publishing fiction. The main themes of literary romances filled with philosophical presumptions became allegories and dark psychology (Thompson 5). Dark Romanticism, which depicts the individuals as being prone to self-destructive immoral tendencies, proved popular in American literature. Literature on the continent gradually changed over time in response to events in American culture, influencing both its authors’ and readers’ artistic expressions and socioeconomic conventions at the time of composition. The history, health, and characteristics of America can be seen reflected in American literature. It is regarded as a component of American ethos since it illustrates not only the heritage of the Americans but also their imaginative and imaginative thinking. American literature is the result of influence by European invaders and the subtly preserved native traditions of the country’s early residents. Additionally, it is a potent indicator of American traits like liberalism and individualism.

Works Cited

Baym, Nina, Franklin, Wayne, Gura, Philip, Krupat, Arnold and Levine, Robert.  Norton Anthology of American Literature . 7 th  ed. Boston: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.  American Literature . Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., 2011. Web.

Hickey, Donald.  The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict . Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989. Print.

Phinney, J. S. (1996). When we talk about American ethnic groups, what do we mean?.  American psychologist ,  51 (9), 918.

Risjord, Norman. “1812: Conservatives, War Hawks, and the Nation’s Honor.”  William And Mary Quarterly 18.2 (1961): 196-210. Print.

Thompson, Gary., ed.  Gothic Imagination: Essays in Dark Romanticism.  Washington: Washington State University Press, 1974. Print.

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The Mid-America American Studies Association is the regional chapter of the American Studies Association that serves institutions and individuals in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. It works for and with graduate students, faculty members, community members, and independent scholars interested in the study of American culture. It is affiliated with the journal American Studies and hosts yearly conferences to facilitate conversation and scholarship in American Studies and related fields.

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Encyclopedia Britannica

The modern essay

All of this literary production was accompanied by a strong essayistic tradition whose main topic was the distinctiveness of Latin American culture and, within that culture, the individual cultures of the various countries. Many of the poets and fiction writers mentioned before also wrote essays in this vein: Carpentier, Paz, Borges, Lezama Lima, and Sarduy, for example. But there were writers whose chief production was the essay: the Uruguayan José Enrique Rodó , the Peruvian José Carlos Mariátegui , the Mexicans José Vasconcelos and Alfonso Reyes , the Dominican Pedro Henríquez Ureña , the Venezuelan Mariano Picón Salas, the Cuban Fernando Ortiz , the Argentine Ezequiel Martínez Estrada , the Puerto Rican Antonio Pedreira, and the Colombian Germán Arciniegas . In many cases the issue was how to incorporate marginal cultures (African, Indian) within Latin America into the mainstream culture of the area and of each individual country. The most important and influential of these essays was Ariel (1900; Ariel ) by Rodó. In the wake of Spain’s humiliating defeat by the United States in the Spanish American War , Rodó muses about the differences between the cultures of North and South America. In reply to Sarmiento’s glorification of North American culture, Rodó calls for adherence to the spiritual, artistic values of Latin American culture, against the pragmatism and utilitarianism of the great new power to the north. His essay had such a positive reception that “Ariel clubs” were founded in various Latin American countries. Most of the essayistic tradition either followed Rodó or argued against him. In the 1920s Mariátegui proposed a Marxist interpretation of Peruvian society and culture in his 7 ensayos de interpretación de la realidad peruana (1928; Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality ). Written in a lively style and surprisingly devoid of cant, Mariátegui’s essay argued in favour of an alliance between the political and artistic avant-gardes. A more scholarly approach was that of Ureña, whose elegant and profound Seis ensayos en busca de nuestra expresión (1928; “Six Essays in Search of Our Mode of Expression”) provides a broad-ranging interpretation of Latin American culture going back to colonial times. In a similar vein, Mariano Picón Salas published in 1944 his De la conquista a la independencia: tres siglos de historia cultural hispanoamericana ( A Cultural History of Spanish America, from Conquest to Independence ). These essays were incorporated into the curricula of universities throughout the world. At midcentury a powerful essay by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz , El laberinto de la soledad (1950; The Labyrinth of Solitude ), offered an existentialist and psychoanalytic interpretation of Mexican culture. It had an enormous influence on Mexican fiction and poetry and was imitated by Latin American essayists elsewhere.

At the turn of the 21st century, Latin America literature seemed to be shifting from the modern to the postmodern . The line of demarcation is not clear. Postmodern literature avails itself of most of the techniques introduced by modern literature, particularly self-consciousness of its own status as literature. The difference, perhaps, is that postmodern literature does not aspire to be profound or pretend that it can make momentous pronouncements about the self, society, the nation, or humankind. The playful element of modern literature has prevailed, a move toward lightness. In Latin America this has meant moving away from the thematics of cultural identity that dominated modern literature and going back to the Romantics . Fiction was dispersed, disseminated among characters of shifting sexuality who did not make up conventional family groups. In the plots of these novels serendipity seems to rule. The herald of postmodern change had been Severo Sarduy . No writer of his stature or that of his predecessors (Borges, Cortázar, García Márquez, etc.) emerged to solidify this tendency. The most significant statement on postmodernism itself was provided by Cuban exile novelist, short-story writer, and essayist Antonio Benítez Rojo (1931), published in his La isla que se repite: el Caribe y la perspectiva postmoderna (1989; The Repeating Island ), a worthy successor to the essayistic tradition sketched before.

Essays on English and American Literature

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essay about american literature

The late Leo Spitzer enjoyed a reputation as one of the twentieth century’s outstanding philologists and linguists. His writings in the field of the romance languages and of comparative philology have been always stimulating, often controversial. This collection presents his essays in English and American literature which appeared in various journals and other publications during his lifetime. They range from an explication de texte of three great Middle English poems, through close scrutiny of writings of Donne, Milton, Keats, to a consideration of Edgar Allan Poe and Whitman, and, finally, to one of Yeats’ poems. Each of the essays in this collection is illuminated and heightened by Professor Spitzer’s careful and imaginative exegesis. The delightful “American Advertising Explained as Popular Art” is included as a sample of Professor Spitzer’s commentary on American culture. Originally published in 1962. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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