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American Experience. Historical and Literary Eras. Colonial History (1607-1775). Meanwhile, in England… King Charles I beheaded, 1649 Commonwealth, 1649-1660 King Charles II restored to throne, 1660 Act of Uniformity, 1662 King George III’s reign, begins 1760.

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american experience

American Experience

Historical and Literary Eras

colonial history 1607 1775
Colonial History (1607-1775)

Meanwhile, in England…

King Charles I beheaded, 1649

Commonwealth, 1649-1660

King Charles II restored to throne, 1660

Act of Uniformity, 1662

King George III’s reign, begins 1760

  • 1607 Entrepreneurs establish first permanent English settlement at Jamestown, VA
  • 1620 Separatists (Plymouth Colony)
  • 1628 Puritans (Massachusetts Bay Colony)
  • 1754 Colonists propose Grand Council for defense, expansion, and Native American affairs
  • 1763 French and Indian War ends, France loses to England, France gives up claim to colonies
  • 1765-1770, After the War, England raises taxes (Stamp Act and Townshend Acts)
colonial literature
Colonial Literature
  • Religious, Protestant, frequently Calvinist
  • Religion based in faith; knowledge is deadly
  • Thought man could not improve; preoccupied by notions of total depravity (man’s inclination to evil more than good) and unconditional election (man’s inflexible route towards damnation, in most cases, or salvation, in a few)
  • Advocated for theocracy
  • Concerned with colonists’ relationship to God, each other, and England
  • Genres include: more private mediums—sermons, historical narratives (half-fact, half-fiction), and poetry
revolutionary early national history 1775 1828
Revolutionary/Early National History (1775-1828)
  • 1775 American Revolutionary War begins
  • 1776 Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence
  • 1781 American Revolutionary War ends
  • 1787 U.S. Constitution
  • 1789 George Washington elected president
  • 1803 Louisiana Purchase, France sells U.S. 828,000 square miles of land
  • 1807 Fulton’s steamboat
  • 1814 War of 1812 ends, U.S. and England negotiate peace
  • 1820 Missouri Compromise between pro- and anti- slavery factions

Meanwhile, in France…

French Revolution begins, 1789

French Republic, 1792

King Louis XVI executed, 1793

Bonaparte’s Empire, 1804-1815

King Louis XVII restored to the throne under a constitutional monarchy, 1815

revolutionary early national literature
Revolutionary/Early National Literature
  • Nominally religious
  • Religion based in reason; knowledge is powerful
  • Thought man could improve
  • Advocated for republicanism or democracy
  • Concerned with colonists’ relationship to the Deity, each other, and their colony or nation
  • Genres include: more public mediums—declarations, pamphlets, newspapers, journals, autobiographies of famous personalities, poems of famous deeds
romantic history 1828 1865
Romantic History (1828-1865)

Meanwhile, in Europe…

First Industrial Revolution

Immigration Wave begins

Marx and Engels publish The Communist Manifesto, 1848

Revolution sweeps continent, 1848

  • 1828 Andrew Jackson, “People’s President,” elected
  • 1830 Cooper’s locomotive
  • 1844 Morse’s telegraph
  • 1846 Oregon Treaty, U.S. and England divide Oregon territory
  • 1846 U.S. annexes Texas from Mexico
  • 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico gives up Alta California and Nuevo Mexico
  • 1848 Seneca Falls, Women’s Rights Convention
  • 1861 American Civil War begins
  • 1862 Homestead Acts encourage Americans to settle the west
  • 1863 Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation
romantic literature
Romantic Literature
  • Supernatural elements
  • Enchanted
  • Original impulse (resists the notion that man is defined by his time or place)
  • Meaning is uncovered/discovered
  • Setting, external nature, is beautiful or sublime, inspires consideration or awe, and stimulates reflection on the mind and heart of man
  • Main character goes on an adventure to find self-knowledge—wanders, rebels, tests his limits
  • About representative man > men
  • Genres include: short story, novel, poetry, etc.
realist naturalist history 1865 1929
Realist/Naturalist History (1865-1929)
  • 1865 American Civil War ends, Reconstruction follows
  • 1876 Bell’s telephone
  • 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre
  • 1903 Wright brothers’ plane
  • 1908 Ford’s car
  • 1917 U.S. enters WWI after sinking of the R.M.S. Lusitania
  • 1920 Nineteenth Amendment, Women granted the right to vote
  • 1920 Recession
  • 1920 Radio popular
  • 1920-23 Jazz Age/Prohibition
  • 1929 Stock Market crashes, Great Depression ensues
  • Meanwhile, in Europe and elsewhere…
  • Reaction against imperialism and Rise of nationalism
  • WWI between Allies (U.K., France, Belgium, Italy, Serbia, Montenegro, Japan, and Russia) and Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey), 1914-18
  • Soviet Union (Stalin), 1922
  • Third Reich (Hitler), 1933
realist naturalist literature
Realist/Naturalist Literature
  • Fatalistic/Deterministic
  • Disenchanted
  • Historical impulse (accepts the notion that man is defined, at least largely, by his time and place)
  • Meaning is revealed
  • Setting, external nature, is, as Victorian English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson says, “red in tooth and claw,” and no fit subject for musing
  • Open adventures replaced by scripted trajectories
  • About men > representative man
  • Genres include: short story, novel, poetry, etc.
modernist history 1929 1945
Modernist History (1929-1945)

Meanwhile, in Europe and elsewhere…

WWII between Allies (U.K., U.S., France, and the Soviet Union) and Axis (Germany, Italy, and Japan), 1939-45

  • 1930 Sound film becomes popular
  • 1933 Roosevelt passes New Deal laws
  • 1934 Gertrude Stein returns to America after a thirty-year absence
  • 1941 U.S. enters WWII after Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor
  • 1945 Allies firebomb Dresden.
  • 1945 U.S. drops atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki
modernist literature
Modernist Literature
  • Sometimes mystical, occult, or esoteric
  • Sometimes associated with “high” art
  • Suspicious of traditional meaning
  • Literature is a perfected product/unified artifact
  • Represents a deliberate and radical break with the bases of western culture
  • Literature is experimental, sometimes lacks coherence, stability, durability
  • Features literary techniques like fragmented utterances, stream of consciousness, and automatic writing
  • Main characters are alienated, often expatriates or exiles; some are emasculated or impotent (literally or metaphorically)
  • Genres include: short story, novel, poetry, etc.
postmodern history 1945
Postmodern History (1945)

Meanwhile, in Europe….

India gains independence from Britain, 1947

United Nations establishes state of Israel, 1948

Germany builds Berlin Wall, 1959

Catholics and Protestants begin fight in Northern Ireland, 1969

Polish trade movement, Solidarity, suppressed, 1981

Germany takes down Berlin Wall, 1989

Hong Kong returns to Chinese rule, ends British rule, 1997

  • 1954 Plessy vs. Ferguson declares school segregation unconstitutional
  • 1959 Alaska and Hawaii join the U.S.
  • 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
  • 1969 Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon
  • 1972 U.S. Troops leave Vietnam
  • 1987 Reagan and Gobachev sign INF treaty
  • 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act
  • 1990-91 Persian Gulf War/“Operation Desert Storm”
  • 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks
  • 2003-2011 Iraq War, also known as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” under Bush or “Operation New Dawn” under Obama
postmodern literature
Postmodern Literature
  • Not mystical, occult, or esoteric
  • Sometimes associated with “low” or “pop” art
  • Lack of traditional meaning; meaning is created (and re-created ad infinitum)
  • Literature is a process/an amalgam
  • Represents a more deliberate and radical break with the foundations of western culture
  • Literature is more playful, zany, even becomes absurd
  • Genres include: short story, novel, poetry etc.
from a literary perspective where do they fit
From a Literary PerspectiveWhere Do They Fit?
  • Poe’s short stories, pub. starting in 1833
  • Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, pub. 1884, set 1830s-40s
  • Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, pub. 1937, set 1920s
  • Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, pub. 1925
  • Miller’s Death of a Salesman, pub. 1949
  • Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, pub. 1951
what the romantics and the realists gave america original and historical impulses
What the Romantics and the Realists Gave America:Original and Historical impulses
  • “artifice” or “artificial”
  • “is”
  • here-and-now
  • pragmatic or disenchanted
  • primacy of exterior realties
  • e.g. time, place, circumstance or convention upon men
  • “nature” or “natural”
  • “should, could, or would be”
  • both mythically old and magically new
  • idealistic or enchanted
  • primacy of interior realities
  • e.g. man’s mind, heart, or spirit upon itself

What is the relationship between these impulses—between what Fr. Arrupe calls the “imaginati[ve]” and the “practical,” and Melville calls “fancy” and “fact”? What is their effect on the American Dream?

and, or, /, vs.?