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American Lit Review

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  1. American Lit Review

  2. Native American Oral Traditions • Characteristics of Native American Oral Traditions • Provide explanations about the world and its origins • Teach moral lessons and convey practical information • Reflect the belief that the natural world includes both human beings and animals • Respect speech as a powerful literary form Plenty Coups, an Apsaroke Crow Indian Brave, Edward S. Curtis, 1908.

  3. The Puritan Ethic • The Puritans believed in: • thrift • hard work • self-sufficiency • Also, they believed that wealth was a sign of God’s favor. • Spiritual matters influenced the Puritan government. • a theocracy The Puritan, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Brookgreen Gardens.

  4. Puritan Plain Style • The chief characteristics of plain style are: • simple sentences • everyday language • direct statements • This style stood in contrast to the “high style” popular in England at the time which employed classical allusions, Latin quotations, and elaborate figures of speech.

  5. Romanticism • Romanticism was, in large part, a reaction to rationalism. • Romanticism values feelings over logic and reasoning. • Romanticism also emphasizes the power of the imagination and the individual spirit as well as the beauty of nature. Kindred Spirits, Asher Brown Durand, 1849.

  6. Characteristics of Romanticism • Romanticism is marked by these characteristics: • a conviction that intuition, imagination, and emotion provide a clearer route to truth than reason alone; • a conviction that poetry is superior to science; • a belief that contemplation of the natural world is a means of discovering truth; • a distrust of industry and city life; • an interest in the supernatural.

  7. Transcendentalism • Transcendentalism refers to the idea that in determining the ultimate reality of God, the universe, the self, and other important matters, one must transcend, or go beyond, everyday human experience. Cascade, William Stanley Haseltine.

  8. Characteristics of Transcendentalism • Transcendentalism is marked by these beliefs: • God is in every aspect of nature, including every human being; • everyone is capable of understanding God through intuition; • nature is a reflection of divine spirit.

  9. Realistic writing is characterized by: honest, believable characters; realistic dialogue; events in the story that seem possible in real life; characters that are driven by real motives and emotions; characters that don’t change without sufficient reason; objectivity. Characteristics of Realism Young Soldier, Winslow Homer, 1861.

  10. Realism vs. Romanticism

  11. Naturalism • Naturalism holds the same view as Realism with the addition of: • Man has LITTLE control over his fate; • Life is NEVER perfect; problems exist in society; • Life is ALMOST NEVER fair; • Good ALMOST NEVER wins over Evil. Hiding in the Haycocks, William Bliss Baker, 1881.

  12. Regionalism • Regionalism has ALL the characteristics of Realism PLUS: • using regional dialects; • descriptions of a local area or region; • local cultures and customs. • Writers attempt to make the reader feel they’ve been to an area without actually going there. Champions of the Mississippi, Currier & Ives.

  13. The American Dream • Three basic principles: • America is a new Eden, a “promised land” of beauty, unlimited resources, and endless opportunities. • The American birthright is one of ever-expanding opportunity. • Progress is a good thing, and we can optimistically expect life to keep getting better and better. • The independent, self-reliant individual will triumph. • Everything is possible for the person who places trust in his or her own powers and potential.

  14. Characteristics of Modernism • Sense of disappointment and loss of faith in the American dream • Rejection of traditional themes and subjects • Rejection of the idea of a hero as perfect in favor of a hero who is flawed and disillusioned but shows “grace under pressure” Nude Descending Staircase No.2, Marcel Duchamp, 1912.

  15. Characteristics of Modernism, cont. • Interest in the inner workings of the human mind. • Sometimes expressed through new narrative techniques such as stream of consciousness • Emphasis on bold experimentation in style and form • Examples: