Brief Survey of American Literature

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Brief Survey of American Literature
1. Beginnings to 1700
Great mixing of peoples from the whole Atlantic basin
Bloody conflicts between Native Americans (or American Indians) and European explorers and settlers who had both religious and territorial aspirations - Native American oral literature / oral tradition - European explorers’ letters, diaries, reports, etc., such as Christopher Columbus’s letters about his voyage to the “New world”. - Anglo (New England) settlers’ books, sermons, journals, narratives, and poetry
Native American / American Indian oral literature / oral tradition creation stories(起源神话) trickster tales(恶作剧者传奇) rituals / ceremonies(典仪) songs / chants(曲词)

Anglo Settlers’ Writings
Highly religious
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Good poetry is “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” - unforced and free composition out of the inherent organic “laws” of the poet’s imagination

Romantic vs. Neoclassic(4)
Subject matter: nature; central human experiences and problems
Feelingful meditation; thinking
Romantic vs. Neoclassic(5)
Subject matter: personal experiences of the poet, often the social nonconformists or outcasts
Romantic vs. Neoclassic(6)
Human beings are endowed with limitless aspiration toward the infinite good
Highest art – an endeavour beyond finite human possibility
The American Romanticism stretched from the end of the 18th century to the outbreak of the Civil War was extremely influential, and best represented by the New England poets and novelists
Both imitative and independent
One of the most important periods in the history of American literature, usually called the Renaissance of American literature
Early Romanticism
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
James Russell Lowell
John Greenleaf Whittier
James Fenimore Cooper
Washington Irving
William Cullen Bryant
New England Transcendentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Margaret Fuller

High Romanticism
Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Herman Melville
Edgar Allan Poe

Early romantic writers
Washington Irving
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