Notes on American Literature

Topics: American literature, Native Americans in the United States, American Revolution Pages: 43 (14785 words) Published: March 2, 2008

·American literature begins with native Americans – orally passed: songs, myths, poetry (later translated into English) ·complex, multilingual beginning

Important figures:
·Sir Walter Raleigh – traveler, Elizabeth's I lover, poet, soldier, died in Tower of London. A famous English writer, poet, courtier and explorer. He was responsible for establishing the second English colony in the New World (after Newfoundland was established by Sir Humphrey Gilbert nearly one year previously, August 5 1583) on June 4, 1584, at Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina. When the third attempt at settlement failed, the ultimate fate of the colonists was never authoritatively ascertained. ·John Winthrop – governor of Massachusetts. led a group of English Puritans to the New World, joined the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 and was elected their first governor on April 8, 1630. Between 1639 and 1648 he was voted out of governorship and re-elected a total of 12 times. Although Winthrop was a respected political figure, he was criticized for his obstinacy (stubborn) regarding the formation of a general assembly in 1634.

Calvin's influence:
·theory of predestination, limited redemption
·self trials to find destiny
·the only hope was faith in God
·God's goodwill – irresistible grace
·faith makes everyone good but good deeds without faith don't work ·one should follow their destiny, ex. become a farmer, following destiny will make you successful, (wealthy) but you shouldn't don't spend money, invest it! ·the holy act of making money for God

Puritans were waiting for signs, they read ‘books to read' (the Bible), interpreted it, interpreted history in their own, Puritan way. Anything could be a sign (weather conditions, Indian attacks, diseases, famine, etc.).

Puritan faith:
·grim, no paintings, no music
·sermons were extremely important as they interpreted the Bible

Michael Wigglesworth:
·wrote The Day of Doom (1662) - his poem represents puritan thought of the time. Many of the puritans memorized it and used it to get people back into the church. They used it to teach children and lingering adults. This was the first "best seller", even though this term wasn't used yet. It describes the Day of Judgment and the sentencing to punishment in hell of sinners and of infants who died before baptism.

Samuel Danforth:
·In 1670, he was invited to give the annual election sermon to the General Assembly, which was afterwards printed as A Brief Recognition of New-England's Errand into the Wilderness (about turning nature into civilization) and is regarded as one of the finest examples of the "jeremiad" form ·jeremiad sermons - explained things form the Bible, created context, it said that future is glorious because we can be better, improve ourselves

History interpretations:

Cotton Mather:

·Magnalia Christi Americana (about religious development of Massachusetts, and other nearby colonies in New England from 1620 to 1698); the English title was The Ecclesiastical History of New England (1702) ·he also wrote descriptions of the Salem Witch Trials, in which he criticizes some of the methods of the court and attempts to distance himself from the event; account of the escape Hannah Dustan, one of the most famous to captivity narrative scholars; his complete "catalogus" of all the students that graduated from Harvard College, and story of the founding of Harvard College itself; and his assertions that Puritan slaveholders should do more to convert their slaves to Christianity ·made a heritage, typological approach

Religious texts:
- sermons – instruments of communication between the minister and the people - theological thesis
- chronicles (historical)

Mary Rowlandson
(1635-7 – 1678)
·She was a colonial American woman, who wrote a vivid description of the seven weeks and five days she spent living with Native Americans. Her...
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