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AMERICAN LITERATURE

 

 

I.      2000BC– 1620AD   NATIVE AMERICAN LITERATURE (ORIGINS)

 

 

VOCABULARY:

 

MYTH-traditional story passed from generation to generation; explains why world is as it is; events usually result from actions of supernatural beings

CREATION MYTH-explains how universe, earth, & life began; seen as essentially religious, presenting cosmic views of culture; myths have four functions-

         To instill sense of awe toward mystery of universe

         To explain workings of natural world

         To support & validate social customs

         To guide people through trials of living

RITUAL-ceremonial act or series of such acts

PICTOGRAPH-pictures that represent objects & ideas

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

 

         1st. Amer. Lit. was by Indians in over 500 languages

         Culture dictated by natural surroundings with -

         Complex religious views

         Sophisticated political systems

         Strong social values

         All reflected in their lit.

         Lit. was oral tradition – stories passed from generation to generation

         Types of oral lit. -

         Creation myths

         Tales of heroes & tricksters

         Ritual songs & chants used in ceremonies

         Religious beliefs -

         Humans kin to animals, plants, land, heavenly bodies, elements

         Humans do not have dominion over Nature but work with Nature to keep things in order

 

         Present day –

         Lit. still preserves oral tradition but written in English

         Writers attempt to harmonize old way of life with new way of life of Indians

 

VOCABULARY:

 

TRICKSTER – person who deceives or cheats another

 

TRICKSTER TALES – folk tales that feature an animal or human character who engages in deceit, violence, & magic; often mythic, explaining features of the world

 

FOLK TALES – stories handed down, usually by word of mouth, from generation to generation; myths – religious stories offering supernatural explanations of the world – a special category of folk tale

 

IRONY – contrast between appearance & actuality; types:  (1) situational – contrast between what is expected to happen & what actually does happen; (2) dramatic – readers know more about a situation or a character in a story than the characters do; (3) verbal – someone states one thing & means another

 

CHARACTERIZATION – techniques writer uses to develop characters; 4 basic methods: (1)  writer uses physical description; (2) character’s own actions, words, thoughts & feelings presented; (3) actions, words, thoughts, & feelings of other characters toward characters; (4) narrator’s own direct comments

 

VOCABULARY:

 

1400 – 1620   EARLY ENCOUNTERS

 

HISTORICAL NARRATIVES – accounts of real-life historical experiences, given either by person who experienced those events or by someone who has studied or observed them; earliest were picture symbols of Native Americans (in form of pictographs, animal skin drawings, Mayan glyphs, & wampum belts); 2 basic forms – (1) primary sources – historical narratives take form of documents, such as letters, diaries, journals, & autobiographies, that present direct, firsthand knowledge of subject; (2) secondary sources – narratives provide indirect, secondhand knowledge, such as histories & biographies;

 

SLAVE NARRATIVES – American literary genre that portrays daily life of slaves as written by slaves themselves after having gained their freedom; some 6,000 slave narratives known to exist; most influential example – autobiography of Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845)

 

ORAL NARRATIVES – earliest were from Native Americans

 

TALL TALES – feature exaggerated characters, called folk heroes, in wild, often humorous adventures; many of more famous tall tales grew from oral tales passed around on frontier beginning in 1820’s; one of most well-known folk heroes is giant Paul Bunyan

 

BALLADS – both folk & literary, narrative poems or songs that tell stories; former are usually anonymous & feature legends, such as “John Henry” & “Casey Jones”; most famous literary ballad is Longfellow;s poem about Paul Revere

 

SPIRITUALS – religious songs grew primarily from African-American oral tradition

 

 

 “from Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford

Historical narrative – primary source

 

VOCABULARY:

 

CONFLICT – struggle between 2 opposing forces; internal – man vs. self; external – man vs. man; man vs. nature; man vs. society

 

 

“from Women and Children First:  The Mayflower Pilgrims” by Alicia Crane Williams

Historical narrative – secondary source

 

 

“from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano” by Olaudah Equiano

Slave narrative

 

VOCABULARY:

 

SENSORY DETAILS – details that appeal to the five senses

 

DESCRIPTIVE DETAILS – details in pieces of writing that help readers to imagine and understand characters’ experiences

 

IMAGERY – descriptive words and phrases that a writer uses to re-create sensory experiences

 

“My Sojourn in the Lands of My Ancestors” by Maya Angelou

 

VOCABULARY:

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY – story of a person’s life, written by that person

 

FLASHBACK – scene that interrupts the action of a narrative to describe events that tool place at an earlier time; it provides background helpful in understanding a character’s present situation

 

METAPHOR – figure of speech that compares two things that have something in common; unlike similes, metaphors do not use the word like or as, but make comparisons directly

 

 

 

 

                II.            1620 – 1800     FROM COLONY TO COUNTRY

 

 

Part 1:  Between Heaven and Hell

 

                Historical Background:

 

Puritan Tradition

1.                    Valued hard work and self-sacrifice

2.                    Honored material success – believed wealth was reward of virtuous life

3.                    Valued family life, community service, art and literature

4.                    Arrogant in their religious faith and completely intolerant of viewpoints different from their own

Puritan Beliefs

1.                    Human beings are inherently evil and so must struggle to overcome their sinful nature – “original sin”

2.                    Personal salvation depends solely on grace of God, not on individual effort – believed in predestination – only those people who are “elected” by God are saved and go to heaven; only way to know if person was saved was by directly experiencing God’s grace in religious conversion

3.                    Bible is supreme authority on earth – not separation of church and state

Puritan Literature

1.                    Poet Anne Bradstreet gives a sense of what ordinary Puritan lives were like; expresses view of a heaven ruled by a just God – a goal to which Puritans aspired – idea of grace

2.                    Harshness of the judges’ voices at the Salem witch trials, an example of the darker side of Puritanism

3.                    Passionate minister Jonathan Edwards, threatening his congregation with the torments of hell in his famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

Great Awakening

1.                    100 years after Puritans came to colonial America for religious freedom

2.                    some Puritans felt congregations had gotten too complacent, or self-satisfied

3.                    ministers, such as Jonathan Edwards, led the Great Awakening, a religious revival that swept through New England from 1735 to 1750

 

Puritan Writers & Writings

 

Anne Bradstreet

1.                    first notable American woman poet

2.                    first notable American poet

 

VOCABULARY:

 

METER –  repetition of regular rhythmic unit in line of poetry; each unit, known as food, has 1 stressed syllable and either 1 or 2 unstressed syllables

                4 basic types: iamb, trochee, anapest, dactyl

                2 words used to describe meter of a line:  first word identifies the type of metrical foot; second word indicates the number of feet in a line

 

RHYME – Similarity of sound between two words; for true rhyme, consonants that precede vowels must be different; rhyme scheme – pattern of end rhyme in poem is charted by assigning a letter to each line; lines that rhyme are given same letter

                types of rhyme schemes: internal rhyme (rhyme occurs within a single line); end rhyme (rhyme comes at end of a line); slant rhyme (rhymes are not exact but only approximate – also called off rhymes)

 

ARCHAIC LANGUAGE –  words that were once commonly used in past but are now considered old-fashioned or out-of-date

 

INVERTED SYNTAX -  reverses the expected order of words

 

 

Salem Witchcraft Trials

“The Examination of Sarah Good” Salem Court Documents, 1692

 

VOCABULARY:

 

TRANSCRIPT –  written record of information communicated orally, such as speech, interview, or legal testimony

 

BIAS –  prejudice or mental leaning toward or against some topic, issue, or person

 

LOADED LANGUAGE –  words with strong emotional associations

 

LOADED QUESTIONS –  questions that make unwarranted presumptions or that force a certain answer

 

 

Sermon

“from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by Jonathan Edwards

 

VOCABULARY:

 

PERSUASIVE WRITING – intended to convince reader to adopt a particular opinion or to perform a certain action; uses logical appeals and emotional appeals; often uses repetition

 

REPETITION –  recurrence of words, phrases, or lines

 

LOGICAL APPEALS – appeal to the mind

 

EMOTIONAL APPEALS –  appeal to the emotions

 

METAPHOR –  comparing 2 unlike things without using word like or as

 

SIMILE –   comparing 2 unlike things using word like or as

 

PERSONIFICATION –  figure of speech in which an object, animal, or idea is given human characteristics

 

ONOMATOPOEIA –  process of creating or using words that imitate sounds, for example – buzz, honk, peep; in literature, it goes beyond use of simple echoic words – writers choose words whose sounds suggest their denotative and connotative meanings, for example – whisper, gargle, gnash

 

ALLUSION –  indirect reference to person, place, event, or literary work with which author believes reader will be familiar

 

 

Part 2:  The Right to Be Free

 

                Historical Background:

 

Sources of Strength needed for undertaking revolution:

                Bible (used by ordinary people)

                Writings of John Locke (used by learned people)

1.        Idea of “natural rights” – life, liberty, right to own property

2.        Reflected in Jefferson’s opening to Declaration of Independence

3.        Echoed in wording of Constitution

4.        Revolutionary writers, esp. Patrick Henry, Phillis Wheatley, Abigail Adams, Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur

Other important issues:

1.        Slavery

Plantation economy of South dependent on slaves, considered property of owners

Powerful Southern landowners perhaps influenced halt of reform to prohibit slavery

2.        Native Americans

Early government policy of US government – to assimilate Native Americans

In 1830, policy changed with Indian Removal Act  - to relocate tribes to free up well-cultivated Indian farmland for what settlers

 

Demands for Equal Rights Continued to Present Day

1.        Women’s rights

2.        Chicanos’ rights – i.e. Rodolfo Gonzales in 1967 poem “I Am Joaquin”

 

Deism Beliefs:

  1. People arrive at truth by using reason rather than by relying  on authority of past, on religion, or on non-rational mental processes like intuition
  2. God created universe but does not interfere in its workings
  3. World operates according to God’s rules, & through use of reason, man can discover those rules
  4. People are basically good & perfectible
  5. Since God wants people to be happy, they worship God best by helping other people
  6. Human history is marked by progress toward more perfect existence

 

Persuasive Rhetoric:

 

RHETORIC – art of communicating ideas

 

PERSUASIVE RHETORIC – reasoned arguments in favor of courses of action

 

ARGUMENT – to be effectively persuasive, work has to engage both mind & emotions

 

LOGICAL APPEALS – based on sets of assumptions; provide rational arguments to support claims

 

DEDUCTIVE REASONING – begin with GENERALIZATION, or premise, & to proceed to examples & facts that support it (i.e. Declaration of Independence)

 

INDUCTIVE REASONING – begin with examples & facts & proceed to draw conclusion

 

EMOTIONAL APPEALS – often based on specific examples of suffering or potential threats; also includes LOADED LANGUAGE – language that is rich in connotations & vivid images

 

ETHICAL APPEALS – based on shared moral values; call forth audience’s sense of right, justice, & virtue

 

                Styles of Persuasion:

 

ELEVATED LANGUAGE – formal words & phrases lend serious tone

 

RHETORICAL QUESTIONS – questions that do not require answer; posed to show that arguments make answers obvious

 

REPETITION – repeating point says it is especially important; repeating form of expression says ideas expressed in same way are related; PARALLELISM – form of repetition; used in Declaration of Independence

 

RHETORICAL TECHNIQUES – can be used to create oral or written pieces that are artificial or insincere; can be used to make valid arguments & achieve positive ends

 

Patrick Henry

                “Speech in the Virginia Convention”

 

VOCABULARY:  

 

ALLUSION – indirect reference to person, place, event, or literary work with which author believes reader will be familiar

 

RHETORICAL QUESTION – question to which no answer is expected because answer is obvious; often used to emphasize point or create emotional effect

 

REPETITION – repeating words, phrases, & sentence patterns

 

Thomas Paine

                Common Sense

  1. published in January, 1776
  2. most important written work in support of American independence
  3. 47 page pamphlet denouncing King George II & asserting that continent should not remain tied to island
  4. sold  half million copies  (roughly two and quarter million people)

 

Thomas Jefferson

                Declaration of Independence

 

VOCABULARY:

 

PARALLELISM – writer uses similar grammatical forms or sentence patterns to express ideas of equal importance

 

PARAPHRASE – restates someone else’s ideas in simpler words

 

REPETITION – repeating words

 

Age of Enlightenment

  1. 18th. century
  2. also known as Age of Reason
  3. time of optimism, discovery, questioning
  4. rely on reason to analyze both natural world & human society
  5. began to question social values & structures
  6. climaxed with Declaration of Independence

 

Colonial Letters:

 

Phillis Wheatley & Abigail Adams

 

VOCABULARY:

 

LITERARY LETTER – personal letter that has been published because well-known figure wrote it and/or it gives information about period in which it was written

 

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE – language that communicates ideas beyond literal meaning of words

 

ALLUSION – indirect reference to person, place, event, or literary work with which author believes reader will be familiar

 

METAPHOR – makes comparison directly

 

SIMILE – states comparison using like or as

 

Benjamin Franklin

 

                “Poor Richard’s Almanack”

 

VOCABULARY:

 

PROVERBS – short pithy saying in frequent and widespread use that expresses a basic truth or practical precept

 

Modern Day Influence:

 

Rodolfo Gonzales

 

I Am Joaquin/ Yo Soy Joaquin

 

VOCABULARY:

 

EPIC – long narrative poem on serious subject presented in elevated or formal style

 

 

III.           1800 – 1855     THE SPIRIT OF INDIVIDUALISM

 

 

Part I.      Romanticism and Transcendentalism

 

                                Historical Background

 

Reaction to Age of Reason & Puritanism

                Saw limitations of reason

                Celebrated individual spirit, emotions, & imagination

                Inspired by Nature

 

Transcendentalism

                1st. distinctive American lit. came from transcendentalists

                Derived in part from German romanticism

Based on belief that “transcendent forms” of truth exist beyond reason & experience

Emerson added that every individual is capable of discovering this higher truth on his own through intuition

Thoreau turned his back on material rewards, devoted his life to study of nature & his own individual spirit

Walden – account of his (Thoreau) 2 years of living alone in one-room shack

 

Washington Irving

                1st. American writer to achieve international fame

                Irving known for his humorous essays & stories         

 

 

                “The Devil and Tom Walker”

                short story, comic retelling of Faust Legend

 

VOCABULARY:

 

FAUST LEGEND – Germanic legend of Johann Faust, 16th. c. magician & alchemist who was said to have sold his soul to devil in exchange for worldly power & wealth

 

IMAGERY – words & phrases that appeal to 5 senses

 

SYMBOLISM – use of symbols, something that represents or suggests something else

 

OMNISCIENT NARRATOR – stands outside action of story & reports what different characters are thinking

 

                                                Form in Poetry

 

VOCABULARY:

 

CONVENTIONAL FORM – FOLLOW CERTAIN FIXED RULES

                SONNET, BALLAD, EPIC, ELEGY, ODE, VILLANELLE, BLANK VERSE

 

ORGANIC FORM (IRREGULAR FORM) – TAKES ITS SHAPE & PATTERN FROM CONTENT OF POEM ITSELF

 

Walt Whitman     

                1st. book of poems Leaves of Grass, revolutionary in content & form – today considered by many to be greatest, most influential book of poetry in American lit.

                Images encompass all of American life

                Lines are long & rambling

                Language reflects vigor & tang of American speech

                Most poems marked by optimism, vitality, love of nature, free expression, democracy

                Brought free verse to America

                Uses poetic devices to create rhythm:  catalog, repetition, parallelism

                “I Hear America Singing”

                “I Sit and Look Out”

                “from Song of Myself”

 

VOCABULARY:

 

FREE VERSE – poetry without regular patterns or rhyme & meter

 

CATALOG – frequent lists of people, things, & attributes

 

REPETITION – words or phrases repeated at beginning of 2 or more lines

 

PARALLELISM – related ideas phrased in similar ways

 

E.E. Cummings

                Trademark – experimentation with grammar, punctuation, other language conventions

Created striking effects by violating rules of punctuation, spelling, grammar, & capitalization

                Pioneering experiments with language continue to have significant influence on poetry today

                “anyone lived in a pretty how town”

 

VOCABULARY:

 

EXPERIMENTAL POETRY – poetry in which poet explores unusual subject, invents new forms, orders words in unexpected ways, creates striking effects through language

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

                “from Self-Reliance”

 

VOCABULARY: 

 

APHORISM – brief statement, usually one sentence long, that expresses a general principle or truth about life

 

TRANSCENDENTALISM –

 

Henry David Thoreau

                “from Civil Disobedience”

Expresses transcendental belief that all people must live as individuals, not as mindless parts of society that may or may not be just

 

VOCABULARY:

 

ESSAY – short work of nonfiction that deals with a single subject, usually presenting personal views of writer

 

                “from Walden”

                One of best known examples of nature writing

 

VOCABULARY:

 

NATURE WRITING – type of essay in which writer uses firsthand observations to explore his or her relationship with natural world

 

FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE – METAPHOR, SIMILE, PERSONIFICATION

 

Part II.    American Gothic

 

                                Historical Background

 

Forces that gave rise to Gothic literature:

         Gothic architecture of Middle Ages with Gargoyles (carvings of small deformed creatures sitting at corners of Gothic cathedrals) supposedly kept evil spirits away – gargoyle – mascot of Gothic

         Romantic movement b/c freed imagination:

                                Romantic writers saw individual with hope; Gothic writers saw potential evil in person

                                Romantic writers praised beauties of nature; Gothic writers looked into dark supernatural

 

VOCABULARY:

 

GOTHICISM:  characterized by horror, violence, supernatural effects, and medieval elements, usually set against background of gothic architecture, especially gloomy and isolated castle - other common gothic trappings include insanity (often in the form of a mad relative kept locked in a room in the castle), ghosts and spirits, and dramatic thunder-and-lightning storms

 

Edgar Allan Poe

         Master of Gothic writing in U.S.

         Characteristics of his writings:

                                Dark medieval castles or decaying ancient estates = setting for terrifying events

                                Many male narrators = insane

                                Many female characters = beautiful, dead, or dying

                                Plots = murders, live burials, physical & mental torture, retribution from beyond grave

                                Explored human mind & its functions or dysfunctions

         Founded short story with idea of single effect

         Originated detective story

         Best known as literary critic during his lifetime

               

Nathaniel Hawthorne

                Gothic characteristics of his writings:

                                Examined human heart under conditions of fear, greed, vanity, mistrust, betrayal

 

Southern Gothic – 20th. century

 

                Faulkner –

         Replaced crumbling medieval castles of 19th. century with decaying plantation with fallen aristocratic families

         Replaces ghostly figures stalking noble heroines with ghost of past hounding not-so-noble characters to madness & death

 

                O’Connor –

         Old moral & religious order was crumbling

         Criminals, con men, fools – not ghosts & goblins – were unleashed upon world

 

“The Masque of the Red Death”  - Poe

               

VOCABULARY:

 

GOTHIC:  characterized by grotesque characters, bizarre situations, violent events

 

EPIDEMIC: deadly disease that seems to be incurable

 

ALLEGORY: work with two layers of meaning

 

IRONY: contrast between appearance & actuality

 

SETTING:  time & place

 

“The Raven”  - Poe

 

VOCABULARY:

 

SOUND DEVICES:

 

RHYME: repetition of similar sounds

                                END RHYME: similar or identical sounds at ends of lines

                                INTERNAL RHYME: rhymes within a line

                                RHYME SCHEME: basic pattern of end rhymes

 

                ALLITERATION: repetition of consonant sounds at beginnings of words

 

                ASSONANCE: repetition of vowel sounds within words

 

                CONSONANCE: repetition of consonant sounds within & at ends of words

 

ONOMATOPOEIA: process of creating or using words that imitate sounds; poets choose words   whose sounds suggest their denotative & connotative meanings

 

ALLUSION: indirect reference to person, place, event, or literary work with which author believes reader will be familiar

 

“A Rose for Emily” – Faulkner

 

VOCABULARY:

 

CHARACTERIZATION: development of characters using 4 methods:  (1) character’s physical description; (2) character’s actions, words, & feelings; (3) narrator’s direct comments about character’s nature; (4) other characters’ actions, words, & feelings

 

FORESHADOWING: writer’s use of hints or clues that prepare readers for events that occur later in story

 

INFERENCE: reasoning involved in drawing conclusions on basis of circumstantial evidence & prior conclusions rather than on direct observation

 

                                IV.           1850-1900     CONFLICT AND EXPANSION

 

Part I.      A House Divided

 

A.  Historical Background

 

Slavery & Civil War      March, 1861 – April, 1865

  1. Before war, slavery was major subject for writers
  2. This crucial period saw some of first important literature by African Americans
  1. Frances Ellen Watkins Harper – first popular African-American poet
  2. Frederick Douglass, escaped slave; champion of abolitionist cause & woman suffrage

                        Autobiography – one of most authentic accounts of history of slavery

  1. Other war writers/literature

a.     Walt Whitman – nurse during war

                        Famous elegies for Abraham Lincoln: “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” &                                         “O Captain!  My Captain!”

b.     Ambrose Bierce – foot soldier

                        “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

  1. Stephen Crane

                        “A Mystery of Heroism” – explores internal & external forces that affect soldier

                        The Red Badge of Courage – psychological exploration of war effects

 

B.    Writers/Writings

 

  1. “from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”

One of most famous slave narratives ever

 

VOCABULARY:

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY – STORY OF PERSON’S LIFE WRITTEN BY PERSON HIMSELF

 

STYLE – NOT WHAT IS SAID BUT HOW IT IS SAID: FORMAL OR CONVERSATIONAL; CONCISE OR ELABORATE; OBJECTIVE OF SUBJECTIVE   -   STYLE INCLUDES WORD CHOICE, SENTENCE LENGTH, TONE, FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE, USE OF DIALOGUE

 

  1. “Stanzas on Freedom – James Russell Lowell and “Free Labor – Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

 

VOCABULARY:

 

PROTEST POETRY –

 

SYMBOL – PERSON, PLACE, OBJECT, ACTIVITY THAT HAS CONCRETE MEANING BUT ALSO STANDS FOR SOMETHING BEYOND ITSELF

 

  1. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” – Ambrose Bierce

Thoughts of man facing death

 

VOCABULARY:

 

POINT OF VIEW – NARRATIVE PERSPECTIVE FROM WHICH IT IS TOLD

        1st. person:  narrator is character in work who describes events using pronouns I, Me, My

        3rd. person – narrator is outside the action who uses pronouns such as he, she, they

                        Omniscient – aware of all characters’ thoughts

                        Limited – focused on one character’s thoughts

 

STRUCTURE – ARRANGEMENT OF ITS PARTS

 

ALLITERATION –  repetition of consonant sounds at beginnings of words

 

FORESHADOWING –   writer’s use of hints or clues to indicate events that will occur in story; creates suspense & prepares reader for what is to come

 

  1. “A Mystery of Heroism” – Stephen Crane

 

Uses dialect

Represents literary movement known as naturalism, offshoot of realism

Realistic writers – portrayed common people & ordinary life accurately

Naturalists – like realists, but also described effect of natural & social forces – such as instinct & environment – on individual

 

VOCABULARY:

 

THEME –  central idea or ideas writer intends to share with reader

 

IRONY –  contrast between what is expected & what actually exists or happens

 

  1. “The Gettysburg Address” – Abraham Lincoln

 

Uses repetition

Uses parallelism

 

  1. “from Coming of Age in Mississippi” – Anne Moody

 

Eyewitness account from 1963 sit-ins

Uses chronological order, or time order

 

  1. “Ballad of Birmingham” – Dudley Randall

 

Based on Birmingham church bombing in 1963

 

VOCABULARY:

 

BALLAD – narrative poem that was originally meant to be sung

 

NARRATIVE POEM – poem that tells story

 

Part II.    Tricksters and Trailblazers

 

A.            Historical Background

 

  1. 1841 – first caravan of covered wagons brought pioneers across Great Plains going to California & Oregon
  2. 2 years later – 1,000+ people had made journey
  3. 1849 – California gold rush
  4. 30 years later – gold & silver discovered in every Western state & territory
  5. 1860’s – people began to settle plains
  6. Homestead Act of 1862 – granted free land & 1,000’s moved west
  7. Native American way of life doomed
  8. Tribes forced (by armed conflict or signed treaties) to give land to U>S> government

 

B.            Writings/Writers

 

  1. Native American trickster tradition
  2. Humorous tricksters in Twain’s “The notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County
  3. Willa Cather – serious look at hardship * longing in “A Wagner Matinee”

 

C.          Regionalism

 

  1. New regional diversity in mining camps, cattle ranches, farming communities, & frontier towns in West
  2. Regional literature called local color realism developed

 

D.          Local Color or Regional Literature

  1. Focuses on the characters, dialect, customs, topography, and other features particular to a specific region
  2. This mode of writing became dominant in American literature between Civil War & end of nineteenth century
  3. Attempts to portray accurate dialect patterns, speech, mannerisms, thought, & topography of a specific region
  4. Local Color Movement began in 1880s in America 
  5. Used short stories as its principal medium
  6. Emphasizes its setting, being most concerned with the character of a district or of an era, as marked by its customs, dialect, costumes, landscape, or other peculiarities that have escaped standardizing cultural influences
  7. Bret Harte - first local color writer
  8. Some Local color writers & their respective regions:
    Sarah Orne Jewett - New England
    Bret Harte & Mark Twain - the West
    Joel Chandler Harris - the South

 

E.           Mark Twain

 

1.        “from Autobiography of Mark Twain

 

VOCABULARY:

 

MESMERIZER – HYPNOTIST

 

IRONY – CONTRAST BETWEEN APPEARANCE & ACTUALITY

 

PREDICTING – PROCESS OF USING TEXT CLUES TO MAKE REASONABLE GUESS ABOUT WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN STORY

 

LOCAL COLOR REALISM – STYLE OF WRITING THAT TRUTHFULLY IMITATES ORDINARY LIFE & BRINGS PARTICULAR REGION ALIVE BY PORTRAYING DIALECTS, DRESS, MANNERISMS, CUSTOMS, & CHARACTER TYPES

 

2.             “from Life on the Mississippi

 

VOCABULARY:

 

DESCRIPTION – WRITING THAT HELPS READER PICTURE SCENES, EVENT, PEOPLE BY USE OF DESCRIPTIVE DETAILS

 

VISUALIZING –PROCESS OF FORMING MENTAL PICTURES BASED ON THEIR WRITTEN DESCRIPTIONS

 

3.             “Epigrams”

 

VOCABULARY:

 

EPIGRAM – BRIEF, CLEVER, USUALLY MEMORABLE STATEMENT

               

                4.             “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County

 

                VOCABULARY:

 

                TALL TALE – DISTINCTIVELY AMERICAN FORM OF HUMOROUS

               STORY THAT FEATURES EXAGGERATION

 

EXAGGERATION – INVOLVES STRETCHING TRUTH TO UNREALISTIC    EXTENT

 

DIALECT – DISTINCT FORM OF LANGUAGE AS SPONKEN IN ONE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA OR BY PARTICULAR SOCIAL OR ETHNIC GROUP; REFLECTED IN CHARACTERISTIC PRONUNCIATIONS, VOCABULARY, IDIOMS, & GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTIONS; ONE WAY TO UNDERSTAND UNFAMILIAR DIALECT IS TO USE CONTEXT CLUES

 

5.             “The First Jumping Frog”

 

Article appearing in Sonora, California, Herald on June 11, 1853 – 14 years before Twain wrote his short story; inspiration for “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”

 

6.             Key Aspects of Twain’s Style

 

         Comic exaggeration

         Humorous & entertaining subject matter

         Rambling & indirect narratives, often involving use of more words than necessary to express idea

         Offbeat similes, metaphors, & irony

         Use of analogies to deepen meaning & understanding

         Use of dialect & idioms – vocabulary of ordinary person

 

V.            1855-1925     THE CHANGING FACE OF AMERICA

 

Part I.    Women’s Voices, Women’s Lives

 

A.            Historical Background

 

1.        Woman’s suffrage movement grew with spread of  university education among women

2.        1890’s – emergence of poetry of Emily Dickinson – first major American female poet

3.        Charlotte Perkins Gilman – one of most noted advocates for women

4.        Kate Chopin – 1899 – The Awakening – portrayal of woman’s hidden passion led to public protest

5.        1920 – 19th. Amendment to Constitution gave women right to vote but women did not vote for reforms for women

6.        1960’s – eruption of feminist movement – women again inspired to examine quality of their lives led to rediscover female writers

 

B.                   Writers

 

1.        Emily Dickinson

         Referred to as “Belle of Amherst

         By 1870 dressed only in white

         Sick in 1884 of Bright’s disease, gradual failure of kidneys

         Died in 1886 at age of 55 – had lived as recluse for quarter of century

         Wrote 1775 poems, only seven published anonymously while she was alive

         One of originators of modern American poetry

        Her Poetry

      • Inventive treatment of rhyme, punctuation, capitalization, & sentence structure
      • Poems short, usually no longer than 20 lines
      • Most in quatrains (four-line stanzas)
      • Slant rhymes – words that do not rhyme exactly
      • Used dashes to highlight important words & help break up singsong rhythm of poems
      • Used fresh & original figurative language: simile, metaphor, personification
      • Omission of conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions, or article to increase effect of compression
      • Used inverted syntax to emphasize words

 

 

 

2.        Charlotte Perkins Gilman

         “The Yellow Wallpaper” – written 1890 when many women suffered physical & mental disorders, such as fatigue & depression – believed b/c of their gender that women were weak & emotionally unstable

         First person narrator begins to see images in wallpaper as she descends into madness

         Author herself experienced severe postpartum depression & at age of 72 diagnosed with incurable cancer & finally committed suicide

 

3.        Kate Chopin

         “The Story of an Hour” – reveals young woman’s innermost thoughts about life & marriage

         Emphasizes conflict, irony, & surprise ending

         Author’s local color stories won acclaim but stories about women seeking to be free aroused protest, especially The Awakening (1899) for its depiction of woman’s adulterous affair

 

4.        Tillie Olsen

         “I Stand Here Ironing” – example of interior monologue

         During Great Depression of 1930’s & WWII & aftermath in 1940’s

         Government built daycare centers to care for children while mothers worked

         War brought shortages of meat, sugar, & other important goods, i.e. gas

 

Part II.    American Dream: Illusion or Reality?

               

A.            Historical Background

 

1.        Giant entrepreneurs – Carnegie, Morgan, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt – got very rich by using cheap labor in cities & building giant companies that controlled whole industries

2.        Immigrants from Europe & people from rural areas in search of work rushed to cities in large masses

3.        American ideal – belief that in America one could work hard & gain much b/c America was not based on social priviledge

 

B.                   Writers saw hidden flaws in optimistic simplicity

 

1.         Theodore Dreiser – Sister Carrie – heroine crushed by forces she cannot control

2.         Upton Sinclair – The Jungle – showed horrible working conditions of immigrants in Chicago stockyards

3.         Carl Sandburg – wrote about seamy side of urban industrialization: poverty, crime, corruption but also wrote about courage & resilience of everyday men & women in face of these problems

4.         Edgar Lee Masters & Edwin Arlington Robinson – looked at discontent in small-town life

5.         Paul Laurence Dunbar – 1st. African American to earn his living by writing  - showed truth behind popular racial stereotypes

6.         F. Scott Fitzgerald – showed tension between very wealthy & those attracted to them – showed insights into American preoccupation with money

7.         Anzia Yezierska – “America and I” -  showed what life was like for immigrants in sweatshops of NYC’s garment district

 

C.                   Across Time

 

1.        After passage of restrictive quota laws & Great Depression, America remained “land of opportunity”

2.        In 1960’s, nationality quotas ended & immigration began again but mainly from Asia & West Indies, not Europe

3.        Immigrants came for better way of life and for escape from political persecution

4.        Modern writers – Gish Jen, Naomi Shihab Nye,  Yvonne Sapia, Lorna Dee Cervantes look at new immigration experience (Jen & Nye with humor) (Sapia & Cervantes about generational differences in immigrant families)

 

 

 

UNIT VI:  MODERN AGE (1910-1940)

 

I.                     PART I:  Harlem Renaissance

 

         Unprecedented period of literary, musical, & artistic production among African Americans that reached its peak in the 1920’s

         During the “Red Summer” of 1919, there were bloody antiblack riots in 26 cities

         In 1920’s, membership in  white-supremacist Ku Klux Klan rose to more than 4 million nationwide.

         Harlem drew whites and blacks to clubs such as Cotton Club to hear jazz musicians such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

         It was the time of the “New Negro”.

         Langston Hughes was one of most important and most original.

         Zora Neale Hurston’s writings show a love of black language and manners.

         Other Renaissance writers:  James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Arna Bontemps, Jean Toomer

         The Great Depression of the 1920’s brought an end to the Harlem Renaissance.

 

II.                    PART II:  Modernism (Alienation of the Individual)

 

         WWI remade the map of Europe

         When the war ended in 1918, nearly 10 million soldiers and almost as many civilians had been killed.

         Uncertainty about what was to come became a distinguishing characteristic of the age.

         During the Roaring Twenties people had more money and more things to buy.

         Availability of cars gave people more mobility and freedom

         More people went to nightclubs and speakeasies where alcohol was plentiful

         Movies became popular.

         Political corruption was rampant; gangsters flourished with profits from sale of illegal alcohol

         Literary movement known as modernism was a direct response to these social and cultural changes.

         Writers felt that individuals, esp. artists, were becoming increasingly threatened by and isolated amid mass society

         Characters in modernist works are almost always alienated – withdrawn, unresponsive, hurt by unnamed forces.

         Modernist writers also used experimentation.

         Katherine Anne Porter used stream-of-consciousness as a fictional technique to dramatize the interior life of her characters

         Modernist writers use no narrative voice to guide the reader with explanations or details

         The reader is left alone to figure out what is going on in a story or a poem and what a character or speaker is feeling or thinking.

         Modernism dominated the arts and literature throughout the 20th century.

         Generations that came of age around WWII faced alienation similar to that experienced by the early modernists.

         “The Jilting of Granny Weatherall”  by Porter shows stream-of-consciousness.