Welcome to American Literature - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

presentation player overlay
1 / 67
About This Presentation
Transcript and Presenter's Notes

Title: Welcome to American Literature

Welcome to American Literature
  • Teaching Contents
  1. General Introduction to American Literature
  2. A Survey of Early American History
  3. Major Periods of American Literature
  4. Colonial American Literature

  • How much do you know about American literature?
  • What are the features of American literature?
    (please compare American literature with British
    literature, and set the comparison in their
    different history)

Basic Qualities of American Writers
  • Independent
  • Individualistic
  • Critical
  • Innovative

General Introduction to American Literature
  • Position and Influence in the World
  • Since the 20th century, American literature has
    showed its great influence in the world. In the
    early 1970s, Longfellows A Psalm of life
    (???)was translated into Chinese.
  • In 1901, Linshu (??)first translated Stowes
    Uncle Toms Cabin (ltlt?????gtgt, ??ltlt???????gtgt), in
    which Chinese people identify themselves.

  • Whitman, ONeill, Mark Twain, Dreiser, Hemingway,
    Faulkner influenced Guo Moruo, Lu Xun and other
    chinese writers greatly.
  • In the world, Edgar Allan Poe, who paved the way
    for Symbolist poetry in France, was celebrated
    father of Symbolist poetry.
  • Furthermore, their contribution to Children
    literature (novel of growth) was well received by
    Canadian writers and Chinese writers as well.

Early American History Survey
  • New World It is generally held that Christopher
    Columbus discovered the American continent in
  • Colonial period (about 1607-1765)
  • the first settling of the English people in
    Jamestown, Virginia happened more than 100 years
    later in 1607, and in 1620, the second group
    came, with Mayflower dropping anchor at Plymouth
  • It was not until 1760s, another 100 years later,
    when these people began to call themselves
    Americans, distinguishing their identity from
    their European ancestors.

Early American History Survey
  • Period of Reason and Revolution (1765-18???)
  • In 1776, the Declaration of Independence was
    signed, together with three other documents, the
    treaty of alliance with France, the Treaty of
    Paris and the Constitution, which legally marked
    the United States as an independent nation.
  • In 1789 George Washington was elected the first
    president, and two years later, Washington D. C.
    was established as the nation's capital.

Early American History and Literature
  • The United States of America grew out of
    religious controversy out of the desire of
    monarchs to expand their empires out of the
    human longing for land, adventure
  • The growth of colonial America into the United
    States is recorded in a literature that began as
    reports of exploration and colonization. European
    explorers, traders, and settlers wrote of their
    hopes, rare triumphs, and frequent disasters and
    thereby created a literature that is large,
    various, and amazingly rich." (McMichael, ed.,
    Anthology of American Literature, 1)

  • The early settlers on the American continent
    later became the founding fathers of the American
    nation. So, who were these people? Why did they

  • Most of the immigrants came because they were
    hungry and America offered them good and
    extensive land. They then described their good
    fortune in their letters home, attracting more to
  • Other people came because they wanted to get away
    from the religious persecution back in their own
  • Those who were considered undesirable paupers,
    convicts(??????), criminals were sent here by
    ships. They were not "good" citizens as far as
    England was concerned. So, off the America!

  • Merchants came later. On the one hand, the
    shipping company flourished because it brought
    millions of people to America. On the other hand,
    trading companies were organized, buying some
    things from the settlers and selling other things
    to them at a profit. Still later, the industry of
    advertisement also came into being.
  • So, they came, both the willing and the
    unwilling. The movement began with a few people
    in early 1600s, and in 1907 more than a million
    people entered the country within a year. In the
    years 1903 to 1913, every time the clock struck
    the hour, day and night, 100 persons born in some
    foreign country, not including Canada and Mexico,
    landed on the shores of the United States.

The periods of American literature
Major Periods of American Literature
  • Part I The Literature of Colonial America
  • Part II The Literature of Reason and Revolution
    (1765the end of 18th century)
  • Part III The Literature of Romanticism
  • Part IV Literature of Realism (18651918)
  • Part V Literature of Modernism (19181945)
  • Part VI Contemporary literature (1945-- )

  • The Colonial period (?1607 - 1765)
  • The main features
  • Puritan and Puritanism
  • The period of Reason and Revolution (1765 -1800)
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • The Romantic period (1800 - 1865)
  • The early Romanticism

James Fenimore Cooper
Washington Irving
  1. New England Transcendentalism or American
    Renaissance (1836 - 1855)

Hawthorne Melville Allan Poe
Emerson Thoreau
Whitman Dickinson
  1. New England Poets

  1. The realistic period (1865 - 1914)

Henry James
Local Colorism
Mark Twain
Stephen Crane
Jack London
Theodore Dreiser
  • The period of modernism (1914 - 1945)
  • Modern poetry experiments in form (Imagism)

Carlos Williams
Ezra Pound
  1. Prose Writing modern realism (the Lost

F.Scott Fitzgerald
William Faulkner
Ernest Hemingway
  • The Contemporary Literature (1945 - 2000)
  • American Poetry Since 1945 the Anti-tradition
  • American Prose Since 1945 Realism and

Books to be Read
  • 1.Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography
  • 2. Washington Irving The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  • 3. Edgar Allan Poe The Raven
  • 4. Henry David Thoreau Walden
  • 5. Ralph Waldo Emerson On Nature
  • 6. Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter
  • 7. Herman Melville Moby Dick
  • 8. Longfellow A Psalm of life

  • 9. Whitman O, Captain, My Captain
  • 10. Emily Dickinson Because I Could not Stop for
  • 11. Mark Twain The Adventures of Tom
    Sawyer/Huckleberry Fin
  • 12. Theodore Dreiser Sister Carrie
  • 13. Ezra Pound In a Station of Metro
  • 14. Ernest Hemingway Farewell to arms
  • 15. Robert Lee Frost The Road Not Taken
  • 16. F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

  • 17. William Faulkner A Rose for Emily
  • 18. Ralph Ellison Invisible Man
  • 19. Arthur Miller Death of a Salesman
  • 20. Saul Bellow Dangling Man
  • 21. Joseph Heller Catch-22
  • 22.Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye

Part I. The Literature of Colonial America
  • Historical Introduction(?)
  • Early American writers and poets
  • Puritan Puritanism (??)

Historical Introduction
  • At the beginning of the 17th century, the vast
    continental area that was to become the United
    States had been probed only slightly by English
    and European explorers. At last the English
    settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts began
    the main stream of that we recognize as the
    American national history.
  • Almost a hundred years earlier the Caribbean
    Islands, Mexico, and other Parts of Central and
    South America had been occupied by the Spanish.
    The earliest settlers included Dutch, Swedes,
    Germans, French, Spaniards, Italians and

  • All contributed to the forming of the American
    civilization, but the colonies that became the
    first United States were for the most part
    English sustained by English traditions, ruled by
    English laws, supported by English commerce, and
    named after English monarchs and English lands.
    Compared with other western literature, diversity
    becomes the outstanding feature of American

  • The original 13 colonies
  • South (plantation)
  • Virginia ????(1607) Maryland ???
  • North Carolina?????
  • South Carolina?????
  • Georgia ??? (1732)
  • North (commerce)
  • Massachusetts???? New Hampshire?????
  • Rhode Island???? Connecticut????
  • Middle (farming)
  • New Jersey??? New York??
  • Pennsylvania????? Delaware???

Literary Scene
  • Almost all literatures come from humble
    originsdiaries, journals, letters, sermons,
    travel books, etc. So did American literature. In
    the Colonial Period, personal literature occupied
    a major position in the literary scene. In
    content, they served either God or the expansion
    or both. In form, they were mainly the imitations
    of the English tradition.
  • Some important writers are

  • Captain John Smith---first American writer
  • Contributions his description of America were
    filled with themes, myths, images, scenes,
    characters and events that were a foundation for
    the nations literature. He lured the Pilgrims
    into fleeing here and creating a New land.
  • Smith published eight together, in which the
    bold and optimistic spirits were celebrated.
    American literature is based on the myth of
    biblical Garden of Eden, a New Promised Land
    full of fortune.

  • Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)
  • the first notable poet in America whose lyrics
    remained unsurpassed by any American women
    writers for 200 years until the appearance of
    Emily Dickinson. Her The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung
    Up in America (1650) was the first published book
    of poetry written by a settler in the English
  • Edward Taylor (1642-1729)
  • a Puritan minister conservative. He wrote in the
    tradition of metaphysical poets, expressing
    divine and elevated ideas in unrelated, homely
    terms. His poems revealed his efforts to obtain
    union with God.

  • Phillis Wheatley (1754-1784)
  • the first important Afro-American poet. Born in
    Africa, sold as a slave, she was luckily
    well-treated by her masters and later set free.
    Her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and
    Moral (1773), a collection of 39 poems, was
    concerned with abstract liberty.
  • Philip Freneau (1752-1832)
  • the father of American poetry. His poetry was a
    fusion of neoclassicism and romanticism. He was
    famous for his poem, "The Rising Glory of
    America", collaborated with Brackenridge. He also
    founded the National Gazette, a semi-weekly
    newspaper that became the voice of liberal
    democracy in American politics.

Puritans and Puritanism
  • What do you know about Puritans?
  • How do you understand the following saying
    Without true understanding of Puritanism, there
    would be no real understanding of American
    literature and American culture.?

  • Most of the early settlers were Puritans, a group
    of serious, religious people who advocated strict
    religious and moral principles.
  • a.They wanted to purify the English Church and
    to restore simplicity
  • b. They wanted to live a hard and disciplined
    life opposed pleasure and art
  • c. They believed that the Bible was the
    revealed word of God, therefore, people should
    guide their daily behavior with the Bible.

  • The Puritans brought with them a philosophy of
    life, which is popularly known as American
    Puritanism. A dominant factor in American life,
    Puritanism was one of the most enduring and
    shaping influences in American thought and
    American literature.
  • American Puritanism is a two-fold cultural
    heritage, one being religious and the other
    practical. Puritans were therefore called
    "practical idealist" or "doctrinaire

Religious doctrine
  • The Puritans were determined to find a place on
    the new continent where they could worship God in
    the way they thought true Christians should.
  • When they arrived on the continent, they saw
    virgin land, virgin forests, vast expanses of
    wilderness, and therefore believed that they were
    sent by God for a definite purpose. Puritans
    thought they were "the selected few", chosen by
    God to reestablish a Commonwealth based on the
    teachings of the Bible, to restore the lost
    paradise and to build the wilderness into a new
    Garden of Eden.
  • Therefore the journey to the New World was not
    just a migration. It was a new Exodus, ordained
    by God and foretold in the Bible, just as the
    Bible promised the creation of a New Jerusalem,
    in America."(McMichael, ed. AAL, 8)

  • On the other hand, Puritanism also has its
    practical aspect. When the Puritans first landed
    on the continent, what they were faced with was
    wildernessno shelter, no food and no clothes.
    Their struggle for survival and the movement of
    pushing the frontier with them as they moved
    further and further westward made them more and
    more preoccupied with business and profits. They
    had to work hard in order to make a living and be
    ready for any misfortunes and tragic failures
    that might lie in wait for them. As far as this
    respect is concerned, the Puritans learned a lot
    from the native Indians who helped them through
    the severe winters.

Influence upon American literature
  • Idealism and optimism
  • American literature, in a sense, is a literary
    expression of the pious idealism of the Puritan
    request. The Puritans dreamed of living under a
    perfect order and worked with hope and courage
    toward building a new Garden of Eden. Therefore,
    they tended to look everything with a big amount
    of optimism. This went into the works of Emerson,
    Thoreau, Whitman, and even James. No wonder there
    appeared a mood of frustration or despair in
    later periods, When the dream did not
    materialize, when a "Gilded Age" came instead of
    the Golden one they dreamed of, how could anyone

Influence upon American literature
  • Symbolism
  • The Puritans' metaphorical mode of perception
    brought American literary symbolism into being.
    To the pious Puritans, the physical world was
    spiritual, nothing but a symbol of God. The
    world, therefore, was one of multiple meanings.
    This idea was distinguishable in the works of
    Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville and Poe, this
    developed itself into symbolism.

Influence upon American literature
  • The Puritan style of writing is characterized by
    simplicity. The style of their writing was fresh,
    simple and direst, the rhetoric plain and honest,
    words simple and spare (not fancy).
  • Style tight and logic structure, precise and
    compact expression, avoidance of rhetorical
    decoration, adoption of homely imagery,
    simplicity of diction.
  • Form They were good at writing history, too, and
    biography was once a popular form of literature.

  • How did American Independence War influence the
    literature of this period? (choose one as an
  • How much do you know about Benjamin Franklin and
    his Autobiography?

Part II. The Literature of Reason and Revolution
  • Historical Introduction (?)
  • Benjamin Franklin (??)
  • Thomas Paine
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Philip Freneau

Part II. Historical Introduction(1)
  • In Economy
  • The Industrial Revolution spurred the economy
    in American colonies.
  • Independence War(1776-1783)
  • the industrial growth led to intense strain
    with Britain. The British government tried to
    suppress their growth economically, and ruled
    them from abroad politically and levied heavy tax
    on them. These aroused bitter resentment in
    colonies. Constant conflicts resulted in American
    revolutionary war

Part II. Historical Introduction (2)
  • In Ideology (Enlightenment)
  • Spiritual life of the coloniesEnlightenment, a
    philosophical and intellectual movement.
  • Advocated reason or rationality, the scientific
    method, equality and human beingsability to
    perfect themselves and their society.
  • In favor of the revolutionary ideas and took
    actively in the war.
  • Opposed some of puritan traditions and brought
    the secular education and literature to life.

Features of Literature
  • Writers were preoccupied with rationality and
    showed a love for the order and beauty of
    calssical art.
  • In form, they treated the 18th century English
    classical writers as their models (clarity,
    precision and order of Pope, Addison and Steele)
  • In content, they were intended to be utilitarian.
  • Essayists and journalists shaped the nations
    beliefs with reason dressed in clear and
    foreceful prose.

Thomas Paine
  • The most important American prose writer of the
    18th century.
  • political pamphlets writer.
  • 1776 common sense
  • American Crisis

Thomas Jefferson
  • President, Enlightener, planter, aristocrat,
    lawyer, a symbol of American democracy.
  • Man of many talents scientist, inventor,
    musician, linguist, architect, diplomat and

Thomas Jefferson
  • Political Career He served his country as
    Minister to France(1784-1789), Secretary of
    State(1789-1793), Vice President(1791-1801) and
    third President(1801-1809).
  • Thoughts Jeffersonian Democracy, which includes
    faith in the individual and common man, dislike
    an overly strong government, and emphasis on the
    importance of education and on agrarianism and
    land ownership as they brought responsibility and
    true judgment. Politically, he is considered the
    father of the democratic spirit in his country.
    Style dignity, flexibility, clarity, command of

Thomas Jefferson
  • The Declaration of Independence The essay,
    adopted July 4, 1776, not only announced the
    birth of a new nation, but also set forth a
    philosophy of human freedom which served as an
    important force in the western world.
  • It is a statement of American principles and a
    review of the Causes of the quarrel with Britain,
    presented the American view to the world with
    classic dignity.
  • It instilled among the common people a sense of
    their own importance and inspired struggle for
    personal freedom, self government and a dignified
    place in society.

Philip Freneau
  • Poet of the American Revolution
  • Father of American poetry
  • Serves the transitional role
  • between neoclassicism and
  • romanticism (p12)

???? ??????
  • ??????,???????????????,????,????,?????????????
  • ????????,?????????????????????,???????????????

  • ????,????????,????,???????????????,????,???????
  • ????,???????????????,?????,??????,??????,?????

  • Compare The wild honey suckle with To Daffodils,
    sonnet 18, what are the similarities and

Benjamin Franklin
  • The only good writer of the colonial period.
  • Printer, enlightener, inventor, scientist,
    statesman, diplomat
  • Aid Jefferson in writing The Declaration of
  • Seek help from France in American Independence
  • War.

As an Inventor(1)
  • Father of Bifocals
  • Lightning rod
  • Kite flight
  • Franklins stove
  • odometer

As a Writer(2)
  • Main Works
  • a. Poor Richards Almanac(????). It contains
    many proverbs
  • b. Autobiography(??). With it he set the form
    for autobiography as a genre.
  • Style
  • He developed an utilitarian and didactic
  • His style is characterized by simplicity,
    frankness, wit, clarity, logic and order.

Franklins proverbs
  • Well done is better than well said
  • A lie stands on one leg, the truth on two
  • God helps those who help themselves
  • A penny saved is a penny earned
  • Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy,
    wealthy, and wise
  • Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half
    shut afterwards

  • 1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness drink not to
  • 2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others
    or yourself avoid trifling conversation.
  • 3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places
    let each part of your business have its time.
  • 4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought
    perform without fail what you resolve.
  • 5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to
    others or yourself i.e., waste nothing.
  • 6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time be always employ'd in
    something useful cut off all unnecessary

  • 7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit think
    innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak
  • 8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or
    omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  • 9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes forbear resenting
    injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  • 10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in
    body, cloaths, or habitation.
  • 11. TRANQUILLITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or
    at accidents common or unavoidable.
  • 12. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

???????? (1)
  • ??????,?????
  • ??????????,????????
  • ???????,?????,???????
  • ??????????,??????????
  • ??????????????,?????
  • ??????????????,???????
  • ???????,????,????,?????

???????? (2)
  • ????????
  • ??????,?????????,???????????
  • ????????????????
  • ?????????????????????????????
  • ????????????

The Autobiography
  • Autobiography inspiring account of a poor boys
    rise to a high position. It is a how-to-do-it
    book, one on the art of self-improvement.
  • Contents It covered Franklins life only until
    1757 when he was 51 years old. It described his
    life as a shrewd and industrious businessman and
    narrates how he owned the constant felicity of
    his life, his long-continued health and
    acquisition of fortune.

  • It presents a prototype of American success
    which inspired generations of Americans.
  • It is an embodiment of Puritanism and
    enlightening spirits.(rationalism, order and
    education, self-improvement, self-analysis, and
    moral and ethical values)

Text Reading
  • The main idea of each paragraph
  • Franklins style (narrative point of view,
    diction and expression, syntax)

Para 1
  • Did Franklin think that it is important for
    posterities to borrow the experiences of their
  • How did Franklin evaluate his own life? If he
    could repeat his life, what did he want to do?

Para 5-9
  • What books has Franklin ever read? What is his
    reading experience?
  • What is Franklins fathers attitudes towards his
    writing poetry?
  • How did Franklin improve his writing elegance and
    language accuracy?

Franklins Style
  • In The Autobiography, he uses the first point of
    view, which is amiable and close.
  • His diction and expression are plain and precise.
  • His syntax is short, smooth and well-balanced.

Why Franklin is admired and read widely?
  • He is a typical American, model of the self-made
    man, a cultural hero whose life exemplified the
    American dream of the poor boy who made good.
  • He stressed the importance of working hard to
    make money, happiness depending in the first
    place on economic success and optimistically
    believed that every American could do so.
  • He was convinced that no man could be virtuous or
    happy unless he did his best to improve the life
    of his society and his own life.

  • What are the features of American Romanticism?
  • Self-study of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Write a Comment
User Comments (0)
About PowerShow.com