American Lit. colonial period-19th century

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Last updated: December 13, 2019

John Winthrop
Colonial male preacher. John Winthrop (1587-1649) was elected governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 and on 8 April 1630 he led a large party from England for the New World.Winthrop was extremely religious and ascribed fervently to the Puritan belief that the Anglican Church had to be cleansed of Catholic ritual. Winthrop was convinced that God would punish England for its heresy, and believed that English Puritans needed a shelter away from England where they could remain safe during the time of God’s wrath.His only work of nots is his Journal, which is a Puritan chronicle of the Massachusetts Bay Colony

Anne Bradstreet
poet in colonial America (born in England) (1612-1672)She was first published American woman writer.

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Her faith was exemplary, and so was her love for children and her husband.Relevent poems include:”Before the Birth of One of Her Children””Verses Upon the Burning of Our House””In Honour of that High and Mighty Princess Queen Elizabeth””The Author To Her Book”

Jonathan Edwards
If there is a colonial American man worth knowing anything about, it’s Edwards. His own words probably won’t come up on the test, but Robert Lowell’s “Mr. Edwards and the Spider,” might, so it’s worth knowing the biographical info.Edwards was a colonial American Congregational preacher and theologian. He is known as one of the greatest and most profound American evangelical theologians.

His work is very broad in scope, but he is often associated with his defense of Calvinist theology and the Puritan heritage.His Personal Narrative is a Puritan autobiography that recounts his spiritual conversion.”The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked.”

Phillis Wheatley
Wheatley is most notable because she was a child prodigy and slave who, having learned to read, wrote remarkable–mostly pious–poetry.In 1770 she wrote a poetic tribute on the death of the Calvinist George Whitefield that received widespread acclaim in Boston.

Her poetry was praised by many of the leading figures of the American Revolution, including George Washington, who personally thanked her for a poem she wrote in his honor. However, this praise was not universal. For example, Thomas Jefferson was among the harshest critics of her poetry, writing “The heroes of the Dunciad are to her, as Hercules to the author of that poem.”Because many white people found it hard to believe that a black woman could be so intelligent as to write poetry, in 1772 Wheatley had to defend her literary ability in court. She was examined by a group of Boston luminaries including John Erving, Rev. Charles Chauncey, John Hancock, Thomas Hutchinson, the governor of Massachusetts, and his Lieutenant Governor Andrew Oliver.

They concluded that she had in fact written the poems ascribed to her and signed an attestation which was published in the preface to her book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral published in Aldgate, London in 1773. The book was published in London because publishers in Boston had refused to publish the text. Phillis and her master’s son, Nathanial Wheatley, went to London, where Selina, Countess of Huntingdon and the Earl of Dartmouth helped with the publication.Some critics cite Wheatley’s successful defense of her poetry in court and the publication of her book as the first official recognition of African American literature.Her works include:”An Elegy, Sacred to the Memory of the Great Divine, the Reverend and Learned Dr. Samuel Cooper, Who Departed This Life December 29, 1783″”To His Excellency George Washington”

James Fenimore Cooper
Cooper is unlikely to appear on your test.

You should be able, however, to associate the name Natty Bumppo with him.Excerpted from Wikipedia:The Leatherstocking Tales is a series of novels by American writer James Fenimore Cooper, each featuring the hero Natty Bumppo, known by European settlers as “Leatherstocking,” and by the Native Americans as “Pathfinder,” “Deerslayer,” or “Hawkeye.”.In an attempt to regain his popularity, Cooper returned to Leatherstocking with The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841) where he portrayed, respectively, the hero’s early maturity and youth. Praising the books, most contemporary reviewers expressed a sense of relief at finding Cooper back in what they believed to be his natural element. But there is more to the considerable charm of these works than the simple pleasure of recognition, the delight of encountering a rejuvenated Natty Bummpo once more moving nimbly and fearlessly through the wilderness. For the embattled and bitter author of these novels was able to imbue them with a powerful yearning for an idealized America of the spirit, an Eden-like landscape where his hero, after a couple of brief brushes with love, could retreat to become one with nature.

Frederick Douglass
United States abolitionist who escaped from slavery and became an influential writer and lecturer in the North (1817-1895), , one of the most prominent African American figures in the abolitionist movement.

escaped from slavery in Maryland. he was a great thinker and speaker. published his own antislavery newspaper called the north star and wrote an autobiography that was published in 1845.

Wrote “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself (1845)”: Cherishing the Declaration of Independence (which he regarded as a sacred document of sorts), Douglass throughout his life testified to the nation’s failure to live up to its founding ideals. Douglass excoriated the rise of lynching with the passion and vigor of his early writing, seeing this outbreak of violence against black people as a threat to that which he had devoted his life to achieving: a multiracial United States offering equal rights and justice for all. Douglass artistically shaped the facts of his life to underscore the particular truths to which he was committed at the moment of composition.

Thomas Jefferson
Wrote “Notes on the State of Virginia” where he commented on the evils of slavery, yet he owned slaves and fathered children by those slaves that he kept in slavery.

Some view him as a hypocrite who celebrated human liberty while defending Southerners’ rights to enslave black people; others regard him as a visionary Founding Father who, despite being influenced by the racist ideologies current in his day, gave the nation’s democratic ideals their most powerful written expression. Jefferson’s works play into the field of phrenology, which claimed that African Americans were less intelligent because of their smaller skull and brain size. He became more and more dependent upon his slaves and therefore supported slavery more and more.

Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short story writer, editor and critic and one of the leaders of the American Romantics. He is best known for his tales of the macabre and his poems, as well as being one of the early practitioners of the short story and a progenitor of Gothic fiction in the United States. Poe died at the age of 40, the cause of his death a final mystery. His exact burial location is also a source of controversy.

Abraham Lincoln
One of the era’s great prose stylists and storytellers.Drawing on his boyhood in Kentucky and Indiana and his young manhood in rural Illinois, he used American traditions of ordinary speech and backwoods humor to great political effect and, in so doing, placed these regional traits at the center of American discourse.

Invoked the Declaration of Independence and the Bible to contest slavery. As Lincoln grew, he now added to the often biting satirical humor, and to the logic and natural grace of his earlier utterances, a resonance and wisdom that mark his emergence as a national political leader and as a master of language. Famous for: “A House Divided: Speech Delivered at Springfield, Illinois, at the Close of the Republican State Convention, June 16, 1858”–about the fact that slavery had to be eliminated immediately and not in degrees or simply contained (as he thought at first) because the U.S. was a “house divided” which “cannot stand”

Nathaniel Hawthorne
(1804-1864) Hawthorne is known of course for The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables. One of the most significant fiction writers in the Antebellum period. Hawthorne is celebrated for his prose style, his perceptive renderings of New England history, his psychological acuity, and his vivid characterizations–especially of female characters–his uncanny ability to recreate the past. He used The Scarlet Letter to explore matters of sexuality, gender and psychology in their historical complexity.

As evidenced in his stories “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccinni’s Daughter” and all the novels, few writers of the mid-nineteenth century were more insightful about the damage patriarchal culture can do to women.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882) American transcendentalist who was against slavery and stressed self-reliance, optimism, self-improvement, self-confidence, and freedom. He was a prime example of a transcendentalist and helped further the movement. Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to the Rev. William Emerson, a Unitarian minister in a famous line of ministers; Emerson was later to become a Unitarian minister himself. He gradually drifted from the doctrines of his peers, then formulated and first expressed the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his essay Nature.

“Nature” and Transcendentalism: Nature is an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson published anonymously in 1836. It is in this essay where the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional vision of nature. Building on his early lectures, Emerson defines nature as an all-encompassing divine entity inherently known to us in our unfettered innocence, rather than as merely a component of a world ruled by a divine, separate being learned by us through passed-on teachings in our experience.Also famous for “Self-Reliance”In the essay he formulates his philosophy of self-reliance an essential part of which is to trust in one’s present thoughts and impressions rather than those of other people or of one’s past self. This culminates in the quote: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

“He stresses originality, believing in one’s own genius and living from within. From this springs the quote: “Envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide.”

Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862) Henry David Thoreau was an American author, development critic, naturalist, transcendentalist, pacifist, tax resister and philosopher who is famous for Walden, on simple living amongst nature, and Civil Disobedience, on resistance to civil government and many other articles and essays. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending the abolitionist John Brown. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism.Famous for Walden and Civil DisobedienceWalden: Walden by Henry David Thoreau is one of the best-known non-fiction books written by an American.Published in 1854, it details Thoreau’s life for two years, two months, and two days in second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond, not far from his friends and family in Concord, Massachusetts.

Walden was written so that the stay appears to be a year, with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau called it an experiment in simple living.Walden is neither a novel nor a true autobiography, but a social critique of the Western World, with each chapter heralding some aspect of humanity that needed to be either renounced or praised. Along with his critique of the civilized world, Thoreau examines other issues afflicting man in society, ranging from economy (the first chapter of the book) and reading to solitude and higher laws. He also takes time to talk about the experience at Walden Pond itself, commenting on the animals and the way people treated him for living there, using those experiences to bring out his philosophical positions. This extended commentary on nature has often been interpreted as a strong statement to the natural religion that transcendentalists like Thoreau and Emerson were preaching.Civil DisobedienceCivil Disobedience is an essay by Henry David Thoreau. Published in 1849 under the title Resistance to Civil Government, it expressed Thoreau’s belief that people should not allow governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty both to avoid doing injustice directly and to avoid allowing their acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.

Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War.One of the most famous quotes often mistakenly attributed to either Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, “That government is best which governs least”, actually came from Thoreau in this essay.

Walt Whitman
(1819-1892) American poet and transcendentalist who was famous for his beliefs on nature, as demonstrated in his book, Leaves of Grass. He was therefore an important part for the buildup of American literature and breaking the traditional rhyme method in writing poetry.”The Child’s Champion,” dating from 1842, is now recognized to be the most important of these early works. It established the theological foundation for Whitman’s lifelong theme of the profoundly redemptive power of manly love.

The first edition of Leaves of Grass was self-published at Whitman’s expense in 1855, the same year Whitman’s father passed away. At this point, the collection consisted of 12 long, untitled poems. Both public and critical response was muted. A year later, the second edition, including a letter of congratulations from Ralph Waldo Emerson, was published. This edition contained an additional twenty poems.

Emerson had been calling for a new American poetry; in Leaves of Grass, he found it.During the American Civil War, Whitman cared for wounded soldiers in and around Washington, D.C. He often saw Abraham Lincoln in his travels around the city, and came to greatly admire the President.

Whitman’s poems “O Captain! My Captain!” (popularized in the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society) and “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” were influenced by his profound grief after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.After the Civil War, Walt Whitman found a job as a clerk in the U.S.

Department of the Interior. However, when James Harlan, Secretary of the Interior, discovered that Whitman was the author of the “offensive” Leaves of Grass, he fired Whitman immediately.For many, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson stand as the two giants of 19th-century American poetry. Whitman’s poetry seems more quintessentially American; the poet exposed common America and spoke with a distinctly American voice, stemming from a distinct American consciousness.

The power of Whitman’s poetry seems to come from the spontaneous sharing of high emotion he presented. American poets in the 20th century (and now, the 21st) must come to terms with Whitman’s voice, insofar as it essentially defined democratic America in poetic language. Whitman utilized creative repetition to produce a hypnotic quality that creates the force in his poetry, inspiring as it informs. Thus, his poetry is best read aloud to experience the full message. Famous for “song of myself’

Herman Melville
United States writer of novels and short stories (1819-1891).

Famous for Moby Dick, Billy Bud (kid gets hanged for causing a mutiny… championed as promoting homosexual love), and “Bartleby the Scribner” (guy repeats the phrase ‘I would prefer not to’). Significance of Moby Dick: His book increasingly became about whaling and textuality–about whales in the ocean and whales in books–raising bold questions about narrative, interpretation, and (as consistent with his sense of the book as a “Gospels”) God and the meaning of the universe. He wanted to reveal dark, ‘Shakespearean’ truths about human nature and the universe that, ‘in this world of lies,’ can be told only ‘covertly’ and ‘by snatches.’ Pierre dealt with romantic, ethical, and intellectual perplexities attending the main character.

Benito Cereno addressed some of the most vexing issues of antebellum culture: racial and gender inequities, the social transformations brought about by the rise of industrial capitalism, and the problem of slavery. AND Billy Bud, a final study of the tense and ambiguous conflicts between the individual and the authority.

Emily Dickinson
(1830-1886) you’ll be able to spot Dickinson’s poetry because of her idiosyncratic use of dashes and unconventional capitalization. Many of her poems are enigmatic and short.

She uses simple words of love, life, nature and death and immortality, sometimes with deep meanings written during her social and her reclusive years, United States poet noted for her mystical and unrhymed poems.Dickinson’s poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation.[3] Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.

Mark Twain
United States writer and humorist best known for his novels about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn (1835-1910); , Master of satire. A regionalist writer who gave his stories “local color” through dialects and detailed descriptions. His works include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, “The Amazing Jumping Frog of Calaverus County,” and stories about the American West., He was America’s most popular author, but also renowned platform lecturer. He lived from 1835 to 1910.

Used “romantic” type literature with comedy to entertain his audiences. In 1873 along with the help of Charles Dudley Warner he wrote The Gilded Age. This is why the time period is called the “Gilded Age”. The greatest contribution he made to American literature was the way he captured the frontier realism and humor through the dialect his characters use.

Stephen Crane
United States writer (1871-1900); His first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. Crane released the book under a pseudonym and paid for the publishing himself.

It was not a commercial success, though it was praised by several critics of the time.This was followed by The Red Badge of Courage 1895, a powerful tale of the American Civil War. The book won international acclaim for its realism and psychological depth in telling the story of a young soldier facing the horrors and triumphs of war for the first time. Crane never experienced battle personally, but conducted interviews with a number of veterans, some of whom may have suffered from what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder. Because his depiction of the psychological as well as military aspect of war was so accurate, he was hired by a number of newspapers as a correspondent during the Greco-Turkish 1897 and Spanish-American wars 1898.

In 1896 the boat in which he accompanied an American expedition to Cuba was wrecked, leaving Crane adrift for fourteen days. A result of the incident was Crane’s development of tuberculosis, which would eventually become fatal. He recounted these experiences in The Open Boat and Other Tales 1898.

In 1897, Crane settled in England, where he befriended writers Joseph Conrad and Henry James. Shortly before his death, he released Whilomville Stories 1900, the most commercially successful of the twelve books he wrote. Crane died of tuberculosis, aged only 28, in Badenweiler, Germany.

Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe, born Harriet Elizabeth Beecher (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was an abolitionist, and writer of more than 10 books, the most famous being Uncle Tom’s Cabin which describes life in slavery, and which was first published in serial form from 1851 to 1852 in an abolitionist organ, the National Era, edited by Gamaliel Bailey.

Her second novel was Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp, another anti-slavery novel.When Stowe met Abraham Lincoln in 1862 (during the Civil War), he allegedly greeted her, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war!”

Kate Chopin
(1843-1916); , a southern writer who explored the oppressive features of traditional marriage, encountered widespread public abuse after publication of her shocking novel, The Awakening, which described a young wife and mother who left her family for personal fulfillment; her best-known work focuses on the lives of sensitive, intelligent women.”She was,” Seyersted continues, “the first woman writer in her country to accept passion as a legitimate subject for serious, outspoken fiction. Revolting against tradition and authority; with a daring which we can hardy fathom today; with an uncompromising honesty and no trace of sensationalism, she undertook to give the unsparing truth about woman’s submerged life. She was something of a pioneer in the amoral treatment of sexuality, of divorce, and of woman’s urge for an existential authenticity. She is in many respects a modern writer, particularly in her awareness of the complexities of truth and the complications of freedom.”Since 1969, countless scholars have written about Chopin’s life and work. Feminist critics have had an enormous influence.

Most of what has been written about Kate Chopin since 1969 is feminist in nature or is focused on women’s positions in society.

Henry James
writer who was born in the United States but lived in England (1843-1916); , American writer who lived in England. Wrote numerous novels around the theme of the conflict between American innocence and European sophistication/corruption, with an emphasis on the psychological motivations of the characters. Famous for his novel Washington Square and his short story “The Turn of the Screw.

“; Famous for his long, involute syntax. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism.He is primarily known for the series of novels in which he portrays the encounter of Americans with Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from the point of view of a character within a tale allows him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting.James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world.

James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognisable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting. The concept of a good or bad novel is judged solely upon whether the author is good or bad. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and possibly unreliable narrators in his own novels and tales brought a new depth and interest to narrative fiction.

Famous for: The Ambassadors, The Beast in the Jungle, The Golden Bowl, The Portrait of a Lady, The Aspen Papers, Daisy Miller, The Turn of the Screw, and the Art of FictionPortrait of a lady: First published in 1881. It is the story of a young female American, Isabel Archer, who inherits a large amount of money, which left her to the Machiavellan schemings of two European expatriates. Like many of James’ novels, it is set mostly in Europe, notably Italy.

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