From Colony to Country - Ashland Independent Schools

The Language of Literature American Literature / McDougal Littell
The Lord will make our name a praise and glory,
so that men shall say of succeeding plantations:
“The Lord make it like that of New England.”
For we must consider that we shall be like a City
upon a Hill; the eyes of all people are on us.
-John Winthrop
1st Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony
Unit 2 – Part 1
American Literature
Events in American Literature
1640 - Bay Psalm Book is 1st book printed in America.
1704 -1st American newspaper – Boston Newsletter.
1775 - In a speech to the 2nd Virginia Convention, Patrick
Henry makes a plea (“Give Me Liberty, or Give me Death”
speech) for armed resistance against the British.
North America Events
1630 –Nearly 1000 Puritans establish Massachusetts Bay
1775 – “The Shot heard ‘round the world” is fired on
Lexington Green in Massachusetts starting the American
Revolutionary War.
World Events
1632 – Indian Emperor Shah Jahan
commissions the building of the
Taj Mahal, which takes 21 years.
1687 –
Sir Isaac Newton posits the “Law of
1721 – Edo (Tokyo), Japan becomes the world’s largest
1789 – French Revolution begins (to 1794)
Unit Two presents some of the great minds that
shaped the early years of the colonies that would,
one day, become the United States.
This part of the unit contains literature from
Puritan writers. We will read sermons,
poetry, and nonfiction.
For example,
• Anne Bradstreet (Poet)
• Salem Court Documents, 1692
• Jonathan Edwards (Sermon)
1620 -1800
Puritans have the reputation of
being black-clad moralists who
self-righteously proclaim the
virtues of thrift and hard work.
To call someone a Puritan is not usually a
The negative image of Puritans is based largely on a stereotype
of the 16th-century Puritans that, like most stereotypes, is full of
half-truths and misconceptions.
Puritan Values
• hard work
establish a printing press
• self-sacrifice
free public grammar schools
• family life
a college (Harvard)
• community service
• art and literature
• material success. Puritans believed wealth was a reward to a virtuous life.
On the other hand, many Puritans were arrogant in their religious
faith and completely intolerant of viewpoints different from theirs.
The key to the Puritan heart and soul is religious belief.
Basic Puritan Convictions:
•Human beings are inherently evil and so must
struggle to overcome their sinful nature. This belief in
the original sin was one of the 1st things a Puritan child
learned. “In Adam’s fall / We sinned all” is the rhyme that
teaches the letter A in The New England Primer.
•Personal salvation depends solely on the grace of
God, not on individual effort. Puritans believed in
predestination, the doctrine that only those people who
are “elected” by God are saved and go to heaven. The
only way an individual could know that he or she was
saved was by directly experiencing God’s grace in a
religious experience.
Basic Puritan Convictions: (continued)
•The Bible is the supreme authority on earth. Puritans
argued that the Bible was the sole guide, not only in
governing the moral and spiritual life, but also in
governing the church and society as a whole.
•One effect of this belief was to make Puritan
churches more democratic, organized around ruling
•On the other hand, it led to the Puritans being more
repressive in their political systems and more
intolerant of others.
•Understand and appreciate lyric poetry (literary
•Appreciate author’s use of meter (literary analysis)
Meter is the repetition of a regular rhythmic unit
in a line of poetry.
•Clarify meaning of archaic language (active reading)
Archaic language consists of words that were once
commonly used in the past but are now considered oldfashioned or out-of-date.
For example,
• thee means “you” (singular) and
• ye is the plural form of “you”
• thy means “your”
• doth means “does”
Background - Puritan Poetry
Anne Bradstreet was not only the first notable American
woman poet—she essentially was the first notable
American poet.
Poetry in the 17th-century New England was almost
exclusively devotional in nature and as such was high
recommended reading in the Puritan community.
Bradstreet’s poems focused on the realities of life
(husband, children, house). However, being a Puritan
Bradstreet viewed her life within a spiritual context.
In other words, every event, no matter how trivial,
bore a divine message; every misfortune served to
remind her of God’s will and the path to salvation.
Bradstreet’s poetry leaves a lasting impression of what it
felt like to be a Puritan.
Bradstreet often uses inverted syntax- meaning
that she reverses the expected order of words.
For example, in the first line of “Upon the
Burning of Our House,” she writes “when rest I
took” rather than “when I took rest.”