Early American Literature Test

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Last updated: May 11, 2019
Why we read American literature (3 reasons)
1. Enables us to develop perspectives on global and local events2. Stimulates our imagination and makes our lives larger3. It is one of the shaping influences of life and is our national voice

3 Europeans who AMerican readers loved
Robert Burns (Scottish)Sir Walter Scott (English)Lord Byron (English)Percy Bysshe Shelley (English)John Keats (English)William Shakespeare (English)

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What did people want by the 19th century?What did this mean?
Wanted a national literature- Meant that writing would rely on American themes, avoiding imitations of European literature

3 Uniquely American writers and what they were famous for
-Ralph Waldo Emerson: defined American poetry-Emily Dickinson: Paved the way for modern poetry by using visual imagery, unique style, and vivid metaphors-Mark Twain: captured American dialects-Nathaniel Hawthorne: raised sin and guilt to an art form-Thomas Paine: wrote Common Sense

How American authors influenced other writers
Taught others about American cultureShowed the power of political writing

Ways our world is changing
-More info has been produced in the last 50 years than in the previous 5,000-The amount of available info doubled every 5 years during the 20th century, not it doubles every 2 years-One daily edition of the NY Times contains more info than an educated 16th century person assimilated in his entire life

Why were some Anglicans unhappy with King Henry?
The felt that Henry hadn’t gone far enough when he outlawed the Catholic church- they wanted him to purify the Anglican church too.

What did the Anglicans who were unhappy with King Henry call themselves?What did others call them?
-Called themselves saints-Others called them Puritans, separatists, troublemakers

Why did Puritans leave England?
They had the choice to either attend the Church of England or go to jail, so they headed to Holland to escape jail

Why do we need to understand Puritan beliefs?
Most early American literature was written with aspects of Puritanism, and the American sense of responsibility, moral superiority, and nagging guilt all came from Puritan heritage (it was a big part of early American lives and literature)

Six main Puritan beliefs
1. Total Depravity: every human is born sinful2. Doctrine of Election: God chooses who we would save or damn- no one knows what they are selected for3.

Predestination: Only a few are saved4. Limited Atonement: Jesus died for the chosen only, not everyone5. Irresistible Grace: God’s grace is given freely and can’t be earned or denied6. Perseverance of the Saints: Chosen ones had power to interpret God’s will and therefore felt free to tell others how to behave

5 main types of Puritan writing
-Sermons-Religious poems-Religious tracts-Interpretation of God’s doings on earth-Diaries and journals about religious experiences

William Bradford: Obstacles and Successes
Obstacles: -survival of the new worldSuccesses: -Author/signer of Mayflower compact-Wrote History of Plymouth Plantation-Leader of Plymouth Colony, re-elected 30 times

William Bradford: Why influential
-Wrote Mayflower Compact that influenced shape, style, and content of Constitution-Provided understanding of early Americans and Puritan religion(not published until after death)

Edward Taylor: Obstacles and successes
Obstacles: -considered his poetry a personal form of worship and didn’t allow most of it to be published during his lifetimeSuccesses: -Minister

Edward Taylor: Why influential
-Influenced TS Eliot, Ezra Pound, and other modern metaphysical poets (used conceits)-captured the attitude of 2nd generation Puritans-Focused on self examination and individual relationships to God

Cotton Mather: successes
-produced over 450 volumes of written work-scribe at Salem Witchcraft Trials-Puritan minister-stirred up trials with inflammatory writing-attended Harvard at young age

Cotton Mather: Why influential
-his work reveals important info about history and society of his time, especially about attitudes towards witches-writing was didactic (preachy, moralistic, refers to the Bible)

Anne Bradstreet: birth date and place/date of death and burial site
birth: Northampton, England 1612death: September 16, 1672 at North Andover or Salem

Anne Bradstreet: Childhood facts
-tutors taught her dancing, music, languages, etc.

at age 7-married Simon Bradstreet at age 16-sailed to America at 18-wealthy upbringing

Anne Bradstreet: Where she lived
-England, 1612-1630-Mass. Bay Colony, 1630- 1672 (family was influential)-Massachusetts (Salem, Boston, Cambridge, Ioswich, North Andover)

Anne Bradstreet: Inspiration to write
-Puritan background-Marriage to Simon (love)-experiences in the New World

Anne Bradstreet: Obstacles and successes
Obstacles: -criticized from men for being a woman writer (sexism)-Struggled with difficulties of life on the frontier/Puritan faith-House burned downSuccesses: -America’s first published poet (brother in law published her poetry in London)-Successful enough to be criticized for writing

Anne Bradstreet: Why influential
Early female American WriterFirst published American poet

Anne Bradstreet: Characteristics

Changes from the Puritan era to the Age of Reason
Literature of Puritan New England emphasized the workings of God in the world, the extent of His hand could be seen in every situation.Age of Reason literature (short fiction) was essentially a secular literature, based on the assumption that people are free to make choices about their lives and are responsible for their actions.

Characteristics of Moral Code stories
-marriage issues-gender roles-religion/puritan belief-against disloyalty/affairs-forming new roles for behavior

Characteristics of Native American stories
-not savages-capable of kindness-showed increasing tolerance of Native Americans-showed trustworthiness-courage, kindness, compassion

Characteristics of Slavery stories
-slavery is wrong and it is theft-breaks up families/love-worse than death-harsh way of life

Similarities of moral code, Native American, and slavery stories
-value family-respect-love and compassion-violation of rights-all humans are equal

Similarities of moral code and slavery stories
-betrayal-pro-women/African American

Similarities of moral code and Native American stories
-loyalty-explored new problems-took place in the new world

Similarities of Native American and slavery stories
-have emotions and are human-town between old and new lifestyles-valued life

Washington Irving: Childhood
-last of 11 children-tried to run away at sea at 14, parents forced him to stay in school until 16, then study law-suffered from Tuberculosis and toured Europe for a cure-passed Bar exam-wrote for older brother’s magazine, Salmagundi

Washington Irving: Inspiration to write
-Life in NY (stories, satire, biography, history)-Old German folk tales (as seen in Rip Van Winkle and The Devil and Tom Walker)-Living in Spain-local history

Washington Irving: Obstacles and successes
obstacles: -didn’t see talent, wasted 10 years working-tuberculosis-considered trash by American writerssuccesses: -famous American writer between 1809-1865-inspired and helped many writers-First American writer to achiever international reputation-Rip Van Winkle created success from failure (antihero)-wrote for brother’s magazine

Washington Irving: Why influential
-father of American literature (proves that memorable fiction could feature American settings and types)-Inspired Hawthorne, Longfellow, Dickens, Scott-Inspired Twain to use realistic dialects-Inspired local color (firm setting) school of fiction-Stories set on American soil and spoke to the American soul-Created first antihero

Washington Irving: Characteristics
-history/legend buff-politically conscious-outgoing-humerous-generous

Rip Van Winkle: setting
Catskill Mountains (NY) along Hudson River(story supposedly found in papers of Diedrich Knickerbocker)

Rip Van Winkle: Developing social codes/national identity
Revolutionar War- independence from King-Rip is stereotypical “henpecked husband” in American literature

Rip Van Winkle: Issues unique to America
Breaking away from British govDutch settlement in NYRip is stereotypical “henpecked husband” in American literature

Rip Van Winkle: complexity of plot and dialects
Story is complex with well developed plot, uses realistic dialects

Character description of Rip Van Winkle
-simple and good-natured-kind neighbor-henpecked husband-does not like profitable work

First indication that Rip Van Winkle is not realistic
Stranger appears in antique Dutch clothes

Comparing and contrasting in Rip, and the message of the comparison
Comparing/contrasting how things can change so much in such little time~ compares pre and post Revolutionary America and expresses the concern that Americans lack community, appreciation for nature, and connection to the past

Romantic elements of Rip
-sleeping for 20 years, missing the war-ancient Dutch fellows (Hendrick Hudson and his crew)

Realistic elements of Rip
-Revolutionary War-Natural Setting-Marriage problems-Believable characture

Rip Van Winkle: fantasy and imagination elements
falling asleep for 20 years and missing warHendrick Hudson and his crew

Rip Van Winkle: love of nature elements
loves to hunt and fishsetting in Catskillssense of loss with the tree being gonedescriptions of settings

Rip Van Winkle: legend/myth elements
based on German myth about Fredrick “der rothbart” and the kypphauser mantainsalso based on German Peter Klaus or Greek Epimenides

Rip Van Winkle: Supernatural elements
Hendrick HudsonSleeping for 20 years

Rip Van Winkle: failed love elements
Rip and Dame Van Winkle don’t really love each other

Rip Van Winkle: rural life and the common man elements
SettingRip as a farmer who hunts and fishes

Characteristics of Anne Bradstreet’s poetry
-humbleness-sarcasm towards those who criticize her for being a woman writer-wants to live a simple life-thinks she is not worthy of writing usual, likes more humble topics-writes about some puritan lifestyles-shows difficulty of being a successful woman writer-prizes her husbands love and loves him just as much

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