Beginnings of American Literature Unit # 2
Exploration to Settlement • 50 years after Columbus’ voyage, Europeans search for trade routes, cures, gold, and the fountain of youth • At the end of 16th Century, people start to settle • Plentiful food and land brought permanent settlers to south and then the north
3 Types of New Land Literature • Utilitarian: Described the conditions of life • Religious: Puritans preferred spiritual insights, instruction, or self-examination VERSUS fiction and drama • Native American: Passed down orally and used art to communicate
Puritanism • Puritans split from Church of England in 17th Century • Established a new colony in New England • Beliefs • Grace: Miracle from God for ability to love purely • Plainness: Focus on simplicity • Divine Mission: “True Christianity” to America
Writings of Puritans • Diaries, Spiritual autobiographies, histories, and poetry • First book published in America: Bay Psalm Book (1640) which translated book of Psalm • Michael Wigglesworth, a minister, wrote a popular poem about Judgment Day in 1662
Fate of Puritanism • Lasted only about a century in America • Zeal faded and religion came under attack in next literary time period, The Age of Reason • Founders of the faith died and the new generation took their freedom for granted --- Irony: The oppressed become the oppressors
Southern Life Literature • Contrasts Puritan writings • Isolated plantations versus the Puritan village communities • Wrote less on religion and more on nature and society • VERY detailed descriptions of the wilderness and frontier life • Wrote for amusement or diversion, which Puritans saw as evil
Terms • Oral Literature- • Myth • Anthropomorphism • Trickster • Plain Style • Heroic Couplets • Slant Rhyme • Paradox • The Great Awakening • Persuasive devices • Objective/Subjective Details
Oral Literature Captures a groups ideals – Stories, poems, and songs, convey a people’s values, concerns, and history by word of mouth.
Origin Myths • Stories that felt the need to explain how life began, which gave birth to myths and traditional stories that were passed down from generation to generation. (recount the origins of life on Earth) • They explain: • Customs, institutions, religious rites • Natural landmarks such as a great mountain • Events beyond people’s control
Anthropomorphism A literary technique in which the author gives human characteristics to non-human objects, e.g. the speaking animals in the Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis)
Trickster • The Trickster is a clown, a mischief maker (Bugs Bunny, Robin Good fellow). He provides the comedy relief that a story often needs to offset heavy dramatic tension. The trickster keeps things in proportion. Often seen in folklore, the trickster may appear as the beneficent culture hero, the clever deceiver, or the numskull. • The trickster can be an ally or companion of the hero, or may work for the villain. In some instances the trickster may even be the hero or villain. In any role, the trickster usually represents the force of cunning, and is pitted against opponents who are stronger or more powerful.
Plain Style • Writing style that stresses simplicity and clarity of expression (but will still utilize allusions and metaphors), and was the main form of the Puritan writers.
Couplet • Style of poetry defined as a complete thought written in two lines with rhyming ends. • The most popular of the couplets is the heroic couplet.$ • The heroic couplet consists of two rhyming lines of iambic pentameter usually having a pause in the middle of each line.
Slant Rhyme • Also known as near rhyme, half rhyme, off rhyme, imperfect rhyme, oblique rhyme, or pararhyme. • A distinctive system or pattern of metrical structure and verse composition in which two words have only their final consonant sounds and no preceding vowel or consonant sounds in common. • Instead of perfect or identical sounds or rhyme, it is the repetition of near or similar sounds or the pairing of accented and unaccented sounds that if both were accented would be perfect rhymes (stopped and wept, parable and shell).
Paradox • A statement whose two parts seem contradictory yet make sense with more thought. • Christ used paradox in his teaching: "They have ears but hear not." Or in ordinary conversation, we might use a paradox, "Deep down he's really very shallow.” • Paradox attracts the reader's or the listener's attention and gives emphasis.
The Great Awakening • Responsible in unifying colonies and bringing about the acceptance of religious tolerance • The movement fulfilled people’s need for reassurance, direction and religious purpose, which otherwise was missing. People united in the understanding of the Christian faith and life. However, the Great Awakening ended up weakening the importance of clergy as believers started relying on their own conclusions. • The movement also led to creation of different sects and denominations, and advocated religious tolerance. This movement saw traditional authority of the clergy being challenged and eventually it made it easier to challenge the authority of the King.
Persuasive Devices • Repetition: an effective literary device that may suggest order, or add special meaning to a piece of literature or poetry. The use of any element of language--a sound, word, phrase, clause, or sentence--more than once. • Parallelism: parallel construction, occurs when a writer or speaker expresses ideas of equal worth with the same grammatical form. The statement, "Veni, vidi, vici," (I came, I saw, I conquered) by Julius Caesar is an example of parallelism.
Persuasive Devices • Rhetorical questions: a question asked for rhetorical effect to emphasize a point. No answer being expected; e.g. Robert, is this any way to speak to your mother? • Allusion: A brief or implicit reference to something outside the text. A reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art. Writers often make allusions to the Bible, mythological figures, and Shakespearean plays.
Details • Objective: Facts are objective and provably true; however, if no clear facts exist about a topic, then a series of balanced opinions needs to be produced to allow the reader to make up his or her mind • Subjective: Held by individuals and so are always biased. If unbalanced opinions are presented as if they are facts, they act as propaganda or persuasion SHORT ANSWER
Readings • The Earth on Turtle’s Back (18) • When Grizzlies Walked Upright (21) • The Navajo Origin Legend (24) • Upon the Burning of our Houes (Supplemental) • Of Plymouth Plantation (76) • The General History of Virginia (70) • To My Dear and Loving Husband (96)