Major Literature / Authors in US History

Major Literature / Authors in US History
Title or Type of Work / Year
Poor Richard’s Almanac (1732-58)
Benjamin Franklin
Early Colonial/American poetry
Phillis Wheatley
Main Theme / Significance
Emphasized homespun values of thrift, industry, morality
and common sense
Slave who wrote and got published poetry/verse
Called for Americans to overthrow the British and create a
republic; it rallied America at a low point in the Revolution
Common Sense (1776)
Thomas Paine
Democracy In America
Alexis de Tocqueville
Frenchman who traveled early America and various
insights into what was “America”
Rip Van Winkle
Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Washington Irving
Leatherstocking Tales
Last of the Mohicans
James Fennimore
Knickerbocker Group
(New York) 1810 to 1840
First true “American” literature
Walden: Or Life in the Woods
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Leaves of Grass
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Walt Whitman - poet
New England - 1830s to 1850s
Rejected the idea that knowledge comes through the
senses – believed instead that every person possess
an inner light that can illuminate the highest truth.
Knowledge “transcends” the senses”
Little Women (1868)
Louisa May Alcott
Poetry (1850s)
Emily Dickinson
The Raven / The Fall of the
House of Usher (1840s)
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Moby Dick (1851)
Edgar Allen Poe
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Herman Melville
Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Impending Crisis of the South
Hinton R. Helper
Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
(Samuel Clemens)
Captured frontier realism and humor in authentic
American dialect
A Century of Dishonor (1881)
Helen Hunt Jackson
Chronicled US government dealings with Indians
Progressive Era
How The Other Half Lives (1890)
The Jungle (1906)
Jacob Riis
Upton Sinclair
The Lost Generation (1920s)
A Farewell to Arms.
The Sun Also Rises
The Great Gatsby
Tender is the Night
Manhattan Transfer
The Beat Generation (1950s)
On The Road (novel)
Howl (poem)
The Lonely Crowd (sociology)
The Organization Man (sociology)
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
The Affluent Society (history)
Ernest Hemingway
F. Scott Fitzgerald,
Largely autobiographical - life in New England
Universal themes of nature/love/death/immortality
Obsession with original sin and struggle between
good and evil
Written in response to the Fugitive Slave law, it
awakened the North to the horrors of slavery
Helper, a Southerner, tried to show how slavery was
an economic disaster – angered many in the South
Life in New York’s slums
Written to extol the virtues of socialism, readers
focused instead on the exposé of meat packing
Rejecting post World War 1 middle-class values of
American conformity and materialism, a number of
intellectuals, poets, artists and writers fled to France;
later returned to US. Were called “expatriates”
John Dos Passos.
Jack Kerouac
Allen Ginsberg
Silent Spring (1962)
David Riesman
William H. Whyte.
Sloan Wilson
John Kenneth Galbraith
Rachel Carson
The Feminine Mystique (1963)
Betty Friedan
Lamented post-World War II society as a pack of middleclass conformists who overlooked public good for private
good. Were called “Beats”, which later was changed to
“Beatnik’; precursors to “Hippies”
Sociological and historical studies detailing the
conformity of 1950’s society and business
Detailing long-term effects of pesticides on the environment
– may have led to the environmental movement
brought to light the lack of fulfillment in many women's lives;
considered to the start of the women’s liberation movement
Major Literature / Authors in US History
Title or Type of Work / Year
Main Theme / Significance