What is American literature? This question has many different answers. It can be argued that what makes American literature what it is today is the people who have lived here and what they’ve had to say about what this country means to them. Some of these authors include Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, or Ralph Ellison.
The field of American literature refers to works written or characterized in the history of the United States and its former colonies (britannica.com). Because America was once a part of Britain’s colonies, it is connected to the worldwide English literary tradition. However, because of its distinct American qualities as well as the creation of its own literature, American literature has been recognized as a separate discipline and institution.
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This essay aims to present an extended definition of the phrase “American literature.” The history of American literature and how it formed, as well as the writing style of American authors and what distinguishes American texts from other national literature, will all be discussed in this paper. The paper will also present arguments that discuss the notion of “American literature.”
The indigenous people of North America, who had no written alphabet before Columbus and other Europeans discovered the continent, used chants, songs, and spoken stories to preserve their history and transmit their traditions. Scholars, on the other hand, regarded these vocal genres such as trickster tales, jokes, naming, and grievance chants, and dream songs as “literary” since they represented the creative and exciting responses of individuals to their Native culture (Baym et al., Franklin et al., Gura et al., Krupat, and Levine).
When the Americas was colonized by a number of nation-states including the Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, German, and English kingdoms in the 16th century, writing’s primary function was to pressure policymakers at these foreign colonies’ home base to justify decisions taken without their explicit consent or to record the direct and unintentional cost of European conquest.
The devastating effects of European imperialism in the Americas, where the unintentional transmission of Old World diseases such as smallpox, measles, and other illnesses to Native Americans and enslavement of them for plantation labor provoked strong responses from the public.
Writing also allowed ordinary people during the early colonization of North America to pursue their ambitions, talents, and efforts to reshape their prospects for good, as Diego del Castillo and John Smith demonstrated. In the 15th century New England had a publishing advantage over other colonies due to its larger population size, which led to the production of Puritan literature together with the establishment of Harvard University in 1636, which is still an independent college and printing press today.
The initial conscious attempt to supplant English, however, failed. However, the growth of political events in America soon transformed the situation and made English the main language for both colonies and literature. From 1696 to 1700, there were only about 250 published works written in America. These writings primarily concerned colonial life’s religious, security, and cultural issues (Baym et al).
The war of 1812, which was a battle between the United States of America and the British Empire over trade restrictions (Hickey 56-58), caused American merchant seamen to be recruited into the Royal Navy. British support for American Indian tribes against American expansion (Hickey 101-104) and affirmation of national honor in the face of British insults (Risjord 196-210) paved the way for an increase in interest among Americans in creating a distinct American literature and culture from that of the English.
The writers made humorous writings about the American frontiers, while others wrote romantic and nature-inspired poems that departed from the early English roots.
The short story genre, which explores deeper levels of human behavior and pushes the boundaries of fiction toward mystery and fantasy, was created. In response to the increasing desire for American literary individuality, transcendentalism emerged as a movement dedicated to establishing a state of culture and society. Individualism in the American character was fostered through this development of radical writings promoting it.
Autobiographies were also written by Native Americans, and minority authors began to publish novels. Allegories and dark psychology became the focus of literary romances sated with metaphysical notions. Dark Romanticism flourished in American literature, where monsters such as satan, devils, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, and ghouls represented human depravity (Thompson 6).”
Native American literature has been cultivated through the various impact of Native Americans’ customs before writing was invented, as well as by European conquerors’ influences.
The characteristic of American literature was first recorded in the colonial era, when it was made up of reports and documentation on the people’s condition and status quo in the New World. Writing and literature were utilized to advance policy makers’ understanding of society, explore natural resources, and understand Native American customs and cultures.
Over time, American literature developed into a variety of genres, including fiction and non-fiction ones, depicting writers’ opinions on political, economic, cultural, social status issues utilizing artistic imagery or real data. During the 17th century, American literature began to develop in its own unique way as it moved away from its origins in English literature and promoted individuality.
It fostered the creation of a diverse range of writers, including those in the fields of romance and drama. It also paved the way for a dark romanticism subgenre that depicts people as flawed individuals who are prone to error and self-destruction. With their continual exploration of feelings and ideas, American writers pushed the limits of human creativity and imagination with their creative expression and liberty.
Examine literary works from class to learn the meaning of American literature, particularly through early writers’ contrasting views on themes such as race and revolution. We may start by defining American literature as a collection of writings chronicling the discovery and acquisition of the Native Americans in its early days.
In Africa, literature evolved gradually in response to events taking place in American society, with time influencing writers and readers’ sociocultural norms as well as the author’s artistic expression during that period of writing. American literature may be regarded as a reflection of America’s history, prosperity, and individuality.
It is considered an essential element of American culture because it goes beyond merely chronicling the history of the people of the United States and also reflects their creative ideas and imaginings. The colonizers from Europe, as well as the subtle native customs of early settlers in the United States, influenced American literature. It’s also a crucial tool for identifying American characteristics such as liberalism and individualism.
A romantic writer wishes to express his ideas on how the world should be. It is unrealistic, deluded, and fantastic writing. William Cullen Bryant and Edgar Allen Poe are two good examples of romantic writers. Despite the fact that Poe conformed to the prototype of a romantic writer, it is clear that his works do not represent those of Bryant or other well-known romantic authors.
The works of Edgar Allan Poe are not only recognized for their dark themes, nor are they only known for being frightening. His writings have a distinctiveness that no other writer can match, and it is this individuality that distinguishes his work from the rest. Bryant’s poem “Thanatopsis” is an excellent example of romantic poetry. This essay will compare features of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” to Bryant’s “Thanatopsis,” demonstrating how they make him a romantic author while also distinguishing him from other romantic authors.
“Thanatopsis,” by William Cullen Bryant, is a very romantic poem about mankind’s connection with nature. Bryant wrote this poem to convey his conviction that at the end of life, man is linked to the Earth and will be joined by all those who have gone before him. From the first two lines of the poem it is clear that it is a love poem. “To him who in the love of Nature holds – Communion with her visible forms,” (470). In this poem, Bryant personifies nature by calling it a “she.” He does this in order to provide a connection between the reader and Earth. It’s easier for someone reading Bryant’s work to begin embracing his ideas about nature if “Nature” is referred to as a human being.
Bryant’s focus on the connection between man and nature is likewise extremely romantic. “Go forth under the open sky, and list – To Nature’s teachings while from all around – Earth and her waters, and the depths of air, – Comes a still voice-”(470). Bryant begins to speak about how Nature comforts people in this passage, “When thoughts – Of the last bitter hour come like a blight over your spirit…”(470), using a “still voice” (470) to imply that Nature speaks.
The poem then widens Bryant’s romantic concepts even more. “Earth, that fed you, will claim your growth – to be rolled back into the ground…”(471) Bryant expresses his belief that when life is over, man will return to earth and become a component of it once again in this sentence.
American literature is the body of written work produced in the United States and its former colonies. Early American drama was centered in the New England colonies, and American literature as a whole is made up of literary works. Eugene O’Neil’s plays were first published internationally in the 1920s and 1930s, winning four Pulitzer Prizes and the Noble prize.
During the middle of the 20th century, American drama was dominated by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller’s work, as well as the development of American music. American literature is a branch of English literature that is distinct from other disciplines. The term “American” refers to a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds and cultural values.
“To be a decent American entails recognizing and defending the basic principles on which our nation was founded, seeing them in our day-to-day lives and fighting for them.” – New Morrisesque phrase. Carson McCullers was born February 19, 1917, in Columbus, Georgia. Her grandfather was a planter who fought for the Confederacy. Her father was French Huguenot watchmaker and jeweler who made timepieces for Tiffany & Co. From the age of ten she took piano lessons; when she was fifteen her father gave her a typewriter to support her narrative writing.
The phrase “A Tale Intended to Be After the Fact…”, used by Stephen Crane to open his disturbing tale “The Open Boat,” implies that history has a role in American literature. People desired a language and writing style that was uniquely American, distinct from Great Britain. In 1828, Noah Webster released his first edition of the Dictionary of the English Language.
Previously, the way words were pronounced and written varied from region to area. In other words, people came up with their own words and wrote them in whatever way they pleased. Webster’s dictionary standardized American English while also distinguishing it from Great Britain. Abraham Lincoln once stated, “America will never be destroyed from the outside.” ” America will never be destroyed from the inside,” Mr. Lincoln continued. “If we weaken and lose our freedoms, it will be because we have destroyed ourselves.”
Throughout history, there have been links between works from various eras. The connection is that American literature has been influenced and affected by historical events, current events, and social interactions. Authors are influenced by the culture in which they live.
Authors have drawn on their own experiences or taken them out of history to help create and customize their works. The present trends and viewpoints of the period in which they are displayed also affect writing styles. We saw the nefarious treatment of slaves, the devastation caused by conflicts, and the collapse of eras like The Great Depression while studying American Literature.
Many historic periods have included events ranging from the continent’s early days as a colony to its current status as a sovereign nation. There were numerous conflicts that were fought in order to establish this nation. The lengthy and outstanding Civil War in the United States took place between 1861 and 1865, for example. Strive battles beyond the field of battle also occurred. African Americans and American Indians had to battle for their rights to be recognized.
This is shown by the fact that there was no black national leader until recently, when Barack Obama became America’s first black president. Until the 1960s, American minorities were denied their rights, but a federal registration enforcement of the Constitution assisted this group in acquiring theirs. Many individuals from different races have contributed to the advancement of American literature.
The American literature is a must-read for all ages. The collection of materials in the Library of America is significant not only for its comprehensiveness, but also because it allows future generations to learn about their history and what previous generations sacrificed to create this magnificent nation. Many topics are covered in American literature, which is made up of several genres. Various ethnicities have lived in the United States over time, each adding significantly to the rich literary heritage that survives in both written and oral forms. Patriotism has been sung since before people were born, and it helps keep the American language alive and vibrant as well.
The children sit on their grandparents’ sides as they listen to old South American songs and stories about how the nation grew to be a world power. Because of its entrepreneurship, America became the world’s greatest superpower in the early part of the 20th century. In addition, there were numerous immigrants arriving in America who provided cheap labor.
Because the nation was so rich in natural resources, it was able to import enough raw materials for its industries that produced a variety of manufactured items that were both consumed and exported. This aided immensely to the strong American economy. Certainly, America has come a long way in the last250 years, and it will continue to grow.
Because the United States is a global superpower, American literature has a worldwide influence on political, social, and economic issues. As a result, it has an impact on other nations’ political, social, and economic trends. American literature may be found in any number of locations: on bookshelves, stages all over the world, in movies and songs. Many of the world’s most popular writers are Americans who have written some of the finest works about America’s history and culture. All of America’s greatest authors have libraries dedicated to their work.
How to Write a Reflective Essay on American Literature
A reflective essay is used to look back on one’s own development, such as that of a student in a class. It isn’t necessary to create a thesis statement because of the essay’s nature. Furthermore, it is acceptable to employ the first-person “I” while writing.
The essayist assesses his aims and his progress in attaining them. He also identifies and discusses his assets and flaws, as well as any other pertinent information. If he focuses on his development as a student, for example, he may talk about what he knew before entering the course, what he has gained from it, and what ideas might influence his future studies because of it.
He might talk about how he has advanced as a student by taking that course. He may have learned what works best for him in studying or retaining information or deriving an understanding. Finally, the author does not only inform the reader of how he has improved as a student. Instead, he demonstrates it via examples of what he did and explanations of his reasoning technique. In conclusion, the author reminds the reader of his growth as a student.