The History of American Literature Essay

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The history of American Literature starts well before this land was even called America. It has been a great evolution to come from tribal symbols and drawings to today’s Stephen King and Danielle Steele. Literature has gone through many phases and was impacted by great events and ideas in American history. The earliest form of literature in what would one day be known as America were far from what modern day people would consider “Literature”. The Natives who inhabited this land first had unwritten ways of passing on experiences, beliefs, and stories. Natives relied heavily on the verbal telling of these stories to younger generations. The same stories, fables, or belief structures were told repeatedly, each time identical to the last, and were memorized by the listeners so they would be able to pass these on to the next generation. They also used pictures, carvings, or special mementos such as bones, teeth, feathers, or skins as reminders of great hunts or wars.

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In A Son of the Forest (1829) he described his conversion to Christianity and his participation in the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain . The greatest development in American biography was the slave narrative. The tension produced by slavery in America had already become apparent by the Revolution, but it heightened considerably in the 1800s, right up until the American Civil War (1861-1865). Frederick Douglass created a masterpiece of the genre with Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), a work that he revised and enlarged several times for later editions. While describing his life as a slave and his struggle toward freedom, Douglass emphasized the primary role that literacy played in opening opportunities for African Americans. He represented his ability to write his own story as the ultimate act of a free man . Harriet Jacobs offered a different but no less upsetting representation of slavery in Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861). In the book, Jacobs told of the sexual abuse experienced by young female slaves. During the late 1700s and early 1800s, romanticism was the dominant literary genre in Europe.

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To Wake the Nations. Cambridge, Mass. : The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1993 “Thomas Morton” The Heath Anthology of American Literature (1 November 2005) “Transcendentalism” Wikipedia < http://en. org/wiki/Transcendentalism> (3 November 2005) Tyler, Moses Coit. The Literacy History of the American Revolution Volume II 1763-1783. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing Co. , 1957 “William Bartram” Wikipedia < http://en. org/wiki/William_Bartram> (2 November 2005) “William Hill Brown” Wikipedia < http://en. org/wiki/William_Hill_Brown> (3 November 2005).

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