Am Lit Periods

August 20
Periods of American
Lit: Puritan era
Keep it clean and pure
Quickwrite—For five minutes, write about
what you already know about Puritan
history, culture, and/or beliefs.
Puritan History
16th and 17th centuries: Puritan
movement born out of Church of
England by followers who believed
the church was too lenient and
misguided/corrupted by political
powers, and therefore needed to be
Meanwhile, the Church of England
making efforts to become uniform -> Puritans become excluded and
seek to practice freely elsewhere
"Great Migration" of ~20,000
Puritans emigrated to
Massachusetts Bay Colony
Puritan Beliefs
Predestination: God has selected
few "elected" to heaven, only God
controls individual's fate
Focus on the Bible and its teachers
(power of God > power of King)
Man exists to serve God: man
should not seek pleasure
o no idols, artwork in churches
o minimal holiday celebration
Belief in evil as a force that must
be stopped
o Eventually led to infamous
Salem Witch Trials
Puritan Literary style
writing dominated by theological purpose:
sermons, hymnals, biographies, histories,
promoted self-examination
o no drama or fiction (considered sinful)
o poetry used as a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment,
not an outlet for creative expression
plain style of writing
ornate or clever writing would be considered a sign
of vanity, and therefore sinful
Age of Reason/
Keep it logical.
8/23 Age of Reason History
Late 1600s - late 1700s
Boom in science (Galileo) and decline in
Puritanism (Salem witch trials)
Philosophers such as Jefferson, Paine,
Franklin reconsider role of individual and
 Consider: what kind of thinking led
to the American Revolution?
Thirteen new colonies rejected the
authority of the Parliament of Great
Britain to govern them from overseas
without representation
What are the values expressed in the
United States Declaration of
8/23 Age of Reason Beliefs
o God as the 'clockmaker' - set the world in motion, but
does not need to be worshipped or turned to for counsel
o not lacking religion entirely, but understood that religion
was not the only form/source of truth
o Focus on virtue and decision-making, rather than
superstition and intolerance
Humans are inherently good and are capable of controlling
themselves and making rational decisions
Need to understand and control science and nature
Focus on progress: making their lives better through control
of actions, nature, and the world around them
8/23 Age of Reason
Literary style/features
Straightforward writing style: clear
explanations and descriptions
Honest reflection of what he
Can be witty or humorous; comfortable with
poking fun at human imperfection
Intended mainly to inform, but also
Romantic Era
Keep it from the heart.
8/27 Romantic Era History
An artistic, literary and intellectual movement
originating in Europe and reaching its peak in the US
between 1800-1840.
Partly a reaction against the Industrial Revolution and a
revolt against the norms of the neoclassical rules and
restriction and religious emphasis of the Puritan era
It was associated with liberalism and progressive
thinking– writers were attracted to rebellion and
revolution and concerned with human rights,
individualism and freedom from oppression.
Gives rise to the Transcendentalist movement
Watch excerpt from Dead Poet’s Society “Rip It Up”
8/27 Romantic Era
The primary focus is on free expression of feelings, ornate and
sometimes indulgent descriptions
Imagination and emotion are more important that reason and
formal rules
Belief that the ills of society are the result of the industrialization
of the nation
Nature and natural feelings versus order and control; idealizes
country life
A shift from:
faith in reason to faith in senses, feelings and emotions
interest in urban society to an interest in the rural and
Concern from science to mystery
8/27 Romantic Era Literary style
Emphasizes a love of nature, a respect for primitivism,
and a valuing of the common man ie. “nobel savages” in
James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans
Some authors’ interest in the Medieval past, the
supernatural, the mystical, the exotic and the horrific,
creates a genre known as “Gothic” literature ie.
Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
Edgar Allen Poe’s anything, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The
Scarlet Letter
Stylistically it is difficult to characterize given its
philosophical rejection of rules and order
Transcendental Era
Keep it natural and believe in yourself.
8/30 Transcendentalism History
• A philosophical movement
developed mainly from the 1830’s1840’s.
A major core belief is that both man
and nature are inherently “good”.
Transcendentalist believed society
and institutions ultimately corrupt
the purity of the individual.
8/30 Transcendentalism History
• Man is best when truly self-reliant
and independent.
It is only from such real individuals
that true community could be
A protest to the general state of
culture and society, and in particular,
the state of intellectualism at
Harvard University (particularly
church doctrine)
Transcendental Literary Style
• The tone of Transcendentalism is
exalted with serious and intense
feelings expressed by writer.
Reflection is deep and meaningful,
highly intellectual
It was not a movement of the masses,
though it certainly had an effect on
the masses in the long run.
Transcendental Literary Style
• Writers attempted to create an
American aesthetic using language
and tone.
Dime novels, serialized novels,
sentimental fiction, tales of the city—
there were literally dozens of
different types of novels circulating
and claiming large reading
audiences. (competition)
Notable Transcendental Writers
Margaret Fuller
Ralph Waldo Emerson
May 25, 1803-April 27,1882
In Emerson’s piece titled:
Friendship, he
expresses his
desire to, “not treat
friendship daintily”.
Nature is arguably
considered his
greatest work.
May 23, 1810-July 19,1850
Wrote the book, Women in the 19th
Century as the first women’s
rights novel.
She was a well
known women’s
rights advocate
and had a strong
opinion on
American Realism
Keep it real. 
9/11-12 Notable Writers:
Frederick Douglass
9/11-12 Notable Writers:
Mark Twain
9/11-12 Notable Writers:
Kate Chopin
9/11-12 Realism History
The years following the Civil War (late
1860s onward) symbolized a time of
healing and rebuilding for the nation.
The industrial revolution took place at the
end of the 19th century and the US
experienced significant industrial, social,
economic and cultural change.
People left the country and went to the
city to live.
9/11-12 History
• With new machinery and equipment, the
economy focused on factories. Farming was no
longer relied on so heavily.
The immigration boom occurred. People
worldwide, but particularly from European
countries, flocked to the US.
The influx of immigrants also opened the doors
for economic prosperty through increased
opportunities for internation trade.
9/11-12 Realism Beliefs
• Important to depict a contemporary view of
what was happening in society.
Humanity's freedom of choice was limited by
the power of outside forces.
Realists believed that because America was
changing so rapidly, it was important to capture
what was happening locally, before it was lost.
Realism Literary Style
• Kept writing close to reality and filled with
rich detail
Character more important than action and
Complex ethical choices are often the subject
Social class was an important theme.
Natural diction—often made use of local
Literary Style Continued
Tone may be comic or matter-of-fact
Characters were believeable—people
Americans could have lived side by side
Pulled away from fantasy; focused on “the