American Literature * EOCT Review

American individualism: an appreciation of
individual ambition and achievement.
The American Dream: the idea that anyone
can achieve his or her dreams.
Cultural Diversity: reflects the distinctive
qualities of our cultural melting pot.
Tolerance: reflects how well we have
achieved our quest for tolerance.
Political Drama: a play with a political
component or describing a political event
(The Crucible)
Modern Drama: attempts to recreate real-life
situations and emotions.
Theatre of the Absurd: popular in the 1950s
and 1960s; depicts the belief that human
existence is without meaning – play often
lacks usual conventions of plot, character, or
Fourth wall: an imaginary wall separating the
actors from the audience.
 Expressionism: a dramatic style which
 Minimalism: the opposite of expressionism –
sparse scenery and limited dialogue.
 Dramatic irony – a situation in which the
audience knows more than the character on
 Stage directions- How and where to move on
Thesis: In non-fiction, it is primary message
or main idea.
Main idea: In fiction, a brief summary of the
Theme: what the plot reveals about life
(often a moral.
Aphorism: A short saying which presents a
lesson (“Waste not, want not”).
Native American (pre-1620): oral tradition
of songs and stories. Focus on the natural
and sacred worlds and the importance of land
and place.
Colonial (1620-1750): Reflects religious
influence of Puritans
 William Bradford = establishment of colony
 Anne Bradstreet=poetry on daily life and family
 Jonathan Edwards = Puritan minister “Sinners in
the Hands of an Angry God”.
Revolutionary (1750-1815): Focused on
explaining and justifying the Revolution.
 Thomas Paine (“The Crisis”, “Common Sense”)
 Thomas Jefferson (“The Declaration of
 Benjamin Franklin (“The Declaration of
Independence”, “Poor Richard’s Almanac”)
Romanticism and Transcendentalism (18001855): Celebration of individualism, nature,
imagination, creativity and emotions.
Washington Irving (“Legend of Sleepy Hollow”)
Nathaniel Hawthorne (“The Scarlet Letter”)
Edgar Allen Poe (“ Fall of the House of Usher”)
Herman Melville (Moby Dick)
Walt Whitman
Ralph Waldo Emerson (“Self-Reliance”)
Henry David Thoreau (“Walden”, “Civil Disobedience”)
Realism (1850-1900): Examines realities of
life; human frailty; regional culture (dialect,
local color).
 Stephen Crane (“An Episode of War”)
 Willa Cather (“O Pioneers”)
 Emily Dickinson (“Because I Could Not Stop for
 Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn)
 Bret Harte (“The Outcasts of Poker Flats”)
Naturalism (1880-1940): Views life as a set of natural
laws (i.e. “survival of the fittest”).
 Jack London (White Fang)
Modernism (1900-1950): Themes of alienation,
disconnectedness; experimentation with new
techniques; use of irony. The Harlem Renaissance is
included in Modernism.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (“Winter Dreams”, “The Great Gatsby”)
Ernest Hemingway (“White Hills Like Elephants”)
Langston Hughes (“Dreams Deferred”)
Zora Neale Hurston (“Dust Tracks on a Road”)
Post-Modern Period (1950 – present): Nontraditional topics and structures; embrace a
changing reality.
 J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye)
 Tennessee Williams (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Idioms: phrases that are peculiar to a particular
language (“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”)
 Cognates: Words that have the same origin.
(night=English, noche=Spanish, notte=Italian).
 Denotation: the dictionary definition of a word
(laugh and giggle have the same denotation)
 Connotation: the meaning or idea behind a
word. (Grandfathers laugh, but children giggle).
Narration: tells a story. Has a plot, climax
and resolution.
Description: uses language to describe a
person, place or thing. Often colorful and
Persuasion: designed to influence the
reader’s thoughts.
Exposition: provides information or explains
a topic.
Card stacking: only presents information
that supports one side.
Bandwagon: appeals to people’s desire to fit
in and be part of the group.
Stereotyping: creates a simplified picture of
a complex concept.
Rhetorical questions: questions to which no
answer is needed; encourages readers to
agree with the speaker.
 Decide on a topic
 Locate primary and secondary sources
 Paraphrase information and cite your sources
Drafting: Creating a rough version of the
3. Revising and Editing: Making improvements
to content and organization.
4. Proofreading: Making corrections in grammar
and spelling.
5. Publishing: Sharing your finished papers with
Diction: An author’s word choice.
 Formal
 Informal
Figurative language: language not meant to
be taken literally.
Imagery: descriptive, sensory language
Symbolism: use of language to express more
than the literal meaning of a word; an object
may symbolize an idea.
Exposition: introduces the setting,
characters, and the problem/conflict.
Rising action: complications which serve to
build tension.
Climax: the turning point
Denouement/falling action: events “fall”
into place.
Resolution: the conflict has been resolved
one way or another.
Person v. person
Person v. nature
Person v. self
Person v. society
Person v. machine
Protagonist: usually the main character;
always has a goal. Not always a “good guy”.
Antagonist: the character that opposes the
 Direct (She is nice)
 Indirect (She served cookies and milk to the soldiers).
 Dynamic or Round: Characters who grow and change
 Static or Flat: Characters who stay the same
 Can clarify conflict (“The Most Dangerous Game”)
 Can illuminate character (White Fang)
 Can affect mood (“Cask of Amontillado”)
 Can act as a symbol (“The Turtle”)
 Can serve as a protagonist (White Fang)
Mood: the emotion created by the words and
Irony: Conveys the opposite of actual
 Verbal irony: sarcasm
 Situational irony: events that are far from what is
expected or deserved.
 Dramatic irony: When the audience knows more
about the events in the play than the characters.
Point of View: the perspective from which
the story is told.
 First person: events told by a character in the
story.(“I knew it was risky, but had to try.”)
 Third person omniscient: the narrator is outside
of the action and knows everything including the
thoughts of all the characters.
 Third person limited: narrator knows only the
perspective of one character and focuses on that
character’s thoughts and feelings.
Use a comma OR a semicolon when joining two
independent clauses. When separated they
should form two distinct thoughts.
 Sage wanted a dog, so she adopted from the SPCA.
Use a comma after an introductory phrase.
 Before the end of the school year, make sure to clean
out your locker.
Use a comma to separate items in series of 3 or
more (Todd bought milk, cereal, and bananas.
Put end punctuation BEFORE the closing
quotation marks. (She said, “Don’t forget to
review your notes!”)
Verbs: A word or phrase that states action or
state of being.
 Linking verbs: link the subject to a word that
describes the subject (predicate adjective as in “She is
pretty”) or renames the subject (predicate noun as in
“She is a student”)
 Helping verbs: added before another verb to create a
verb phrase and helps the main verb express action (I
could have been a contender).
 Action verbs: Express physical or mental action (run,
write, think, decide)
Proper: names a specific person, place, or
thing. Always capitalize! (Lassiter High
Common: names any person, place, or thing
(high school).
Pronoun: Replaces a noun (must agree in
Antecedent: The noun the pronoun replaces.
Participle: A form of a verb that ends in –ing
or –ed, but ACTS as an ADJECTIVE.
 The exploding vehicle blocked traffic for hours.
 The shattered windows must be replaced.
Gerund: A form of a verb that ends in –ing,
but ACTS like a NOUN.
 Skiing is a fun, but expensive activity.
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