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A General Introduction to American Literature A General Introduction to American Literature

Discussions l China, experts agree, is the nation of the future […] The commercial Discussions l China, experts agree, is the nation of the future […] The commercial and intellectual success its emigrants have enjoyed in nations from Malaysia to the United States all augur (预示) impending global dominance. In literature, however, the Chinese mainland, as far as Western ears go, is pretty quiet. […] Bookstores, the Times reports, are bustling, but nearly half the purchases consist of textbooks and half the translations are of American books. — John Updike: “Bitter Bamboo” l What is the implication of Updike’s comment ? Do you agree with him? l

l What’s your understanding about American literature and culture at present? l Do you l What’s your understanding about American literature and culture at present? l Do you know the reason for the year of 1620 to be an important mark in American history? Why is the United States also called the New World by some people?

Core Doctrines of Puritanism l 1. Absolute will of God (Bible ) l 2. Core Doctrines of Puritanism l 1. Absolute will of God (Bible ) l 2. Original Sin (total depravity) l 3. Predestination elect) and limited atonement (the

American Puritans l American Puritans believed they were chosen by God to build an American Puritans l American Puritans believed they were chosen by God to build an ideal community in America by leading a moral, simple and hardworking life. l They were intolerant and strictly punished drunks, adulterers, violators of the Sabbath and other religious believers different from themselves.

Influence of American Puritanism upon American literature l 1. Two major undercurrents in American Influence of American Puritanism upon American literature l 1. Two major undercurrents in American literature: moods of optimism and frustration l 2. writing style: l A) distinctively American symbolism: in relation to the Puritan’s metaphorical mode of perception about the world—the phenomenal world is nothing but a symbol of God. l B) Simple, fresh, direct, plain, a touch of nobility

l Periodization of American Literature l Key Themes in American Literature l Periodization of American Literature l Key Themes in American Literature

Periodization of American Literature 1. Early American Literature (17 th century and 18 th Periodization of American Literature 1. Early American Literature (17 th century and 18 th century) 1) The Literary Scene in Colonial America (ab. 16071765) 2) Literature of Enlightenment and Revolution (17651790 s) l 2. 19 th_century American Literature 1) Romanticism; 2)Realism; 3)Naturalism l 3. American Literature of the 20 th century and the present 1)modernism; 2)postmodernism l

The Literary Scene in Colonial America (ab. 1607 -1765) l l Humble origins: diaries, The Literary Scene in Colonial America (ab. 1607 -1765) l l Humble origins: diaries, histories, journals, letters, travel books, sermons. Characteristics: in content—ponderously religious or serving colonial expansion or both; in form—imitating and transplanting English literary tradition; loosely structured and long sentences

l l l William Bradford(1590 -1567) Of Plymouth Plantation: to deliberate the religious and l l l William Bradford(1590 -1567) Of Plymouth Plantation: to deliberate the religious and idealistic nature of their colonizing undertaking John Winthrop(1588 -1649) 1630 Sails for New England; delivers his “A Model of Christian Charity” aboard the Arbella “We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies…for we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill”

Anne Bradstreet (1612 -1672) Background: well educated at childhood; came to America with Arbella Anne Bradstreet (1612 -1672) Background: well educated at childhood; came to America with Arbella in 1630; “tenth muse” in America Characteristics: singularly puritan mode of perception; about the justice of God’s way with His Puritan flock; in search of man’s nature and destiny and his mission in the new world

Contemplations (9) I heard the merry grasshopper then sing. The black-clad cricket bear a Contemplations (9) I heard the merry grasshopper then sing. The black-clad cricket bear a second part; They kept one tune and played on the same string, Seeming to glory in their little art. Shall creatures abject thus their voices raise And in their kind resound their Maker’s praise, Whilst I, as mute, can warble forth no higher lays?

To My Dear and Loving Husband If ever two were one, then surely we, To My Dear and Loving Husband If ever two were one, then surely we, If ever man were loved by wife, then thee; If ever wife was happy in a man Compare with me, ye women, if you can. I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold Or all the riches that the East doth hold. …… Then while we live, in love let's so persever That when we live no more, we may live ever

Edward Taylor (1642 -1729) came to America in 1668; a meditative poet; a Puritan Edward Taylor (1642 -1729) came to America in 1668; a meditative poet; a Puritan poet

Meditation 38 Oh! What a thing is man? Lord, who am I? That Thou Meditation 38 Oh! What a thing is man? Lord, who am I? That Thou shouldst give him law To regulate his thoughts, words, life therby. And judge him wilt thereby too in Thy time. A court of justice Thou in heaven hold’st To try his case while he’s here housed on mold.

Literature of Enlightenment and Revolution (1765 -1790 s) l l 1. Most writers are Literature of Enlightenment and Revolution (1765 -1790 s) l l 1. Most writers are also activists or supporters of the Independent War. 2. Genres: diaries, political pamphlets, poetry, satire literature, novel, drama, etc. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, William Hill Brown (novelist), Philip Freneau (a poet), Thomas Pain, etc. “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph” (Thomas Pain: American Crisis)

Philip Freneau (1752 -1832) 1) “Poet of the American Revolution’’ 2) The first American-born Philip Freneau (1752 -1832) 1) “Poet of the American Revolution’’ 2) The first American-born poet (the most significant poet of eighteenth-century America); 3) notable mainly for two things: using his poetic talents serving the national independence; advocating nationalism in American literature

The Indian Burying Ground In spite of all the learn’d have said; I still The Indian Burying Ground In spite of all the learn’d have said; I still my old opinion keep, The posture, that we give the dead (指白人要求的“躺姿 ”) Points out the soul’s eternal sleep. Not so the ancients of these lands— The Indian, when from life releas’d, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast, …

American Romanticism l l l 1. 1770 s-1830: burgeoning period 2. 1830 -1860: culminating American Romanticism l l l 1. 1770 s-1830: burgeoning period 2. 1830 -1860: culminating period(American Renaissance) 3. 1860 -1870 s declining period

Features of American Romanticism l l 1. individualism 2. optimism 3. emphasis on imagination Features of American Romanticism l l 1. individualism 2. optimism 3. emphasis on imagination and emotion 4. a cultural revolution (The American Scholar)

Representatives of American Romanticism l l Representatives of early romanticism: Washington Irving (The Sketch Representatives of American Romanticism l l Representatives of early romanticism: Washington Irving (The Sketch Book), James Cooper (Leatherstocking Tales), William Bryant (Thanatoposis), etc. Representatives of romanticism in the latter period: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville (novelists) Henry Longfellow, Edgar Allan Poe , Walter Whitman, Emily Dickinson (poets) Ralph Emerson, Henry Thoreau (essayist) etc.

American Realism l l l Reasons for the rise of realism 1. western movement American Realism l l l Reasons for the rise of realism 1. western movement (Mark Twain) 2. industrialization 3. development of science (Pragmatism, inductive method) 4. opposition to genteelism Representatives of Realism: Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Henry James, etc.

American Naturalism: Pessimistic Realism l l l A man said to the universe: “Sir, American Naturalism: Pessimistic Realism l l l A man said to the universe: “Sir, I exist!” “However, ” replied the universe “The fact has not created in me A sense of obligation. ” ____Stephen Crane

Features and Representatives of Naturalism l l 1. Objective description 2. man governed by Features and Representatives of Naturalism l l 1. Objective description 2. man governed by heredity and environment 3. unconventional subjects Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Jack London, etc.

American Modernism (1918 -1945) Features and Major Representatives of Modernism l 1. The Waste American Modernism (1918 -1945) Features and Major Representatives of Modernism l 1. The Waste Land The Sound and The Fury (an illustration of the spiritual poverty of the west of the time) 2. Revolutionizing the traditional literary arts (Imagism) l 3. alienation, desperation, the lost generation, stream of consciousness l T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, etc. l

l “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, //That struts and frets his l “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, //That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, //And then is heard no more; it is a tale//Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, //Signifying nothing”. (Macbeth) 人生不过是一个行走的影子,一个在舞台上指手划脚 的拙劣的伶人,登场片刻,就在无声无息中悄然退 下;它是一个愚人所讲的故事,充满着喧哗和骚动, 却找不到一点意义。

American Postmodernism l l l Major Features of Postmodernism 1. experimental writing techniques: Challenging American Postmodernism l l l Major Features of Postmodernism 1. experimental writing techniques: Challenging traditional concepts about plot, characters, or even the way to write a literary work 2. black humor ( absurd literature): Joseph Heller 3. ontological problem 4. diversity in novel writing and poetry.

 There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. —Joseph Heller Catch-22 l

l l l l l Non-fictional novel: Truman Capote; Norman Mailer; Tom Wolf War l l l l l Non-fictional novel: Truman Capote; Norman Mailer; Tom Wolf War novel: James Jones; Irwin Shaw Southern novel: Katherine Anne Porter; Robert Penn Warren Black American Literature: Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, etc. Jewish American literature: Saul Bellow; Bernard Malamud; Philip Roth The Beat Generation: Allen Ginsberg; Jack Kerouac Confessional poetry Black Mountain Poetry New York Poetry

American Drama l l Eugene O’Neill: a Nobel Prize winner ; Long Day’s Journey American Drama l l Eugene O’Neill: a Nobel Prize winner ; Long Day’s Journey Into Night Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire Arthur Miller: Death of a Salesman Edward Albee: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Key Themes in American Literature l American Dream l “The American Dream is that Key Themes in American Literature l American Dream l “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. […] It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position. ” —James Truslow Adams: Epic of America (1931)

l l Identity Individualism l l Identity Individualism