American literature | Article about American literature by The Free Dictionary

 

definition of american literature

Like other national literatures, American literature was shaped by the history of the country that produced it. For almost a century and a half, America was merely a group of colonies scattered along the eastern seaboard of the North American continent—colonies from which a few hardy souls. Jul 12,  · While America continued to evolve and change (the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote, and the stock market crash of changed everything), modernism in . May 18,  · Before we begin a study such as this, it's important to define the scope of our concerns, and perhaps the most obvious place to start is with the title of our course - "American Literature I." Let's look at each part separately and ask what is meant by "American" and what is meant by "Literature.".


American literature - Wikipedia


African-American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. It begins with the works of such late 18th-century writers as Phillis Wheatley. Before the high point of slave narratives, definition of american literature, African-American literature was dominated by autobiographical spiritual narratives.

The genre known as slave narratives in the 19th century were accounts by people who had generally escaped from slavery, about their journeys to freedom and ways they claimed their lives.

The Harlem Renaissance of the s was a great period of flowering in literature and the arts, influenced both by writers who came North in the Great Migration and those who were immigrants from Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. African-American writers have been recognized by the highest awards, including the Nobel Prize given to Toni Morrison in Among the themes and issues explored in this literature are the role of African Americans within the larger American society, African-American culture, racismslaveryand social equality.

African-American writing has tended to incorporate oral forms, such as spiritualssermonsgospel musicbluesdefinition of american literature, or rap. As African Americans' place in American society has changed over the centuries, so has the focus of African-American literature. Before the [American Civil War], the literature primarily consisted of memoirs by people who had escaped from slavery; the definition of american literature of slave narratives included accounts of life under slavery and the path of justice and redemption to freedom.

There was an early distinction between the literature of freed slaves and the literature of free blacks born in the North. Free blacks expressed their oppression in a different narrative form. Free blacks in the North often spoke out against slavery and racial injustices by using the spiritual narrative. The spiritual addressed many of the same themes of slave narratives, but has been largely ignored in current scholarly conversation. At the turn of the 20th century, non-fiction works by authors such as W.

Du Bois and Booker T. Washington debated how to confront racism in the United States. During the Civil Rights Movementauthors such as Richard Wright and Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about issues of racial segregation and black nationalism. In broad terms, African-American literature can be defined as writings by people of African descent living in the United States. It is highly varied. Raboteau has said, all African-American study "speaks to the deeper meaning of the African-American presence in this nation, definition of american literature.

This presence has always been a test case of the nation's claims to freedom, democracy, equality, the inclusiveness of all. African-American literature presents experience from an African-American point of view. In the early Republic, African-American literature represented a way for free blacks to negotiate their identity in an individualized republic.

They often tried to exercise their political and social autonomy in the face of resistance from the white public. African-American literature has both been influenced by the great African diasporic heritage [7] and shaped it in many countries. It has been created within the larger realm of post-colonial literaturealthough scholars distinguish between the two, saying that "African American literature differs from most post-colonial literature in that it is written by members of a minority community who reside within a nation of vast wealth and economic power.

African-American oral culture is rich in poetry, including spiritualsgospel musicbluesand rap. This oral poetry also appears in the African-American tradition of Christian sermonswhich make use of deliberate repetition, cadence, and alliteration. African-American literature—especially written poetry, but also prose—has a strong tradition of incorporating all of these forms of oral poetry.

Some scholars resist using Western literary theory to analyze African-American literature. African-American history predates the emergence of the United States as an independent country, and African-American literature has similarly deep roots.

Terry wrote the ballad in after an Indian attack on Deerfield, Massachusetts. She was enslaved in Deerfield at the time of the attack, when many residents were killed and more thanmostly women and children, were taken on a forced march overland to Montreal.

Some were later ransomed and redeemed by their families or community; others were adopted by Mohawk families, and some girls joined a French religious order. The poet Phillis Wheatley c. Wheatley was not only the first African American to publish a book, but the first to achieve an international reputation as a writer.

Definition of american literature in SenegalWheatley was captured and sold into slavery at the age of seven. Brought to Massachusetts, she was owned by a Boston merchant. By the time she was 16, she had mastered her new language of English. Her poetry was praised by many of the leading figures of the American Revolutionincluding George Washingtonwho thanked her for a poem written in his honor.

Some whites found it hard to believe that a Black woman could write such refined poetry. Wheatley had to defend herself in court to prove that she had written her own work. Some critics cite Wheatley's successful defense as the first recognition of African-American literature. Another early African-American author was Jupiter Hammon —? Hammon, considered the first published Black writer in America, published his poem "An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries" as a broadside in early In he wrote an ode to Phillis Wheatley, in which he discussed their shared humanity and common bonds.

Writing at the age of 76 after a lifetime of slavery, Hammon said: "If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.

In the 19th century, his speech was later reprinted by several abolitionist groups. It is the first known fiction by an African American, but as it was written in French and published in a French journal, it had apparently no influence on later American literature.

Brown, definition of american literature, on the other hand, was a prominent abolitionistlecturer, definition of american literature, novelist, playwright, and historian in the United States.

Born into slavery in Kentucky, Brown was working on riverboats based in St. Louis, Missouriwhen he escaped to Ohio. He began to work for abolitionist causes, definition of american literature, making his way to Buffalo, New York and later Boston, Massachusetts.

He was a prolific writer, beginning with an account of his escape to freedom and experience under slavery. Brown wrote Clotel; or, The President's Daughterconsidered to be the first novel written by an African American. It was based on the persistent rumor that president Thomas Jefferson had fathered a mixed-race daughter with his slave Sally Hemings. In the late 20th century, DNA testing affirmed for most historians that Jefferson was the father of six children with Hemings; four survived to adulthood and he gave all definition of american literature freedom.

The novel was first published in England, where Brown was living for several years. Frank J. It was the first African-American fiction to portray passingthat is, a mixed-race person deciding to identify as white rather than black. It also explored northern racism, in the context of a brutally realistic race riot closely resembling the Philadelphia race riots of and It expressed the difficulties of lives of northern free Blacks.

He labeled the work fiction and argued that it may be the first novel published definition of american literature an African American, definition of american literature. Our Nig is a counter-narrative to the forms of the sentimental novel and mother-centered novel of the 19th century. Crafts was a fugitive slave from Murfreesboro, North Carolina. If her work was written definition of american literatureit would be the first African-American novel written in the United States.

The definition of american literature was published in with an introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The work was never published during Crafts' lifetime. Some suggest that she did not have entry into the publishing world. There is some evidence that she read in the library of her master and was influenced by those works: the narrative was serialized and bears resemblances to Charles Dickens ' style.

A genre of African-American literature that developed definition of american literature the middle of the 19th century is the slave narrative, accounts written by fugitive slaves about their lives in the South and, often, definition of american literature, after escaping to freedom. They wanted to describe the cruelties of life under slavery, as well as the persistent humanity of the slaves as persons.

At the time, the controversy over slavery led to impassioned literature on both sides of the issue, with novels such as Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe's representing the abolitionist view of the evils of slavery. Southern white writers produced the " Anti-Tom " novels in response, purporting to truly describe life under slavery, as well as the more severe cruelties suffered by free labor in the North.

The slave narratives were integral to African-American literature. Some 6, former slaves from North America and the Caribbean wrote accounts of their lives, with about of these published as separate books or pamphlets. Many of them are now recognized as the most literary of all 19th-century writings by African Americans, with two of the best-known being Frederick Douglass 's autobiography and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs Jacobs — was born a slave in Edenton, North Carolina and was the first woman to author a slave narrative in the United States.

Although her narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was written under the pseudonym "Linda Brent", definition of american literature autobiography can be traced through a series of letters from Jacobs to various friends and advisors, most importantly to Lydia Maria Childthe eventual editor of incidents. The narrative details Jacobs' struggle for freedom, not only for herself but for her two children. Jacobs' narrative occupies an important place in the history of African-American literature as it discloses through her firsthand example the specific injustices that black women suffered under slavery.

Harriet Beecher Stowe was asked to write a foreword for Jacob's book, but refused. Frederick Douglass c. He eventually became the most prominent African American of his time and one of the most influential lecturers and authors in American definition of american literature. Born into slavery in Maryland, Douglass eventually escaped and worked for numerous abolitionist causes.

He also edited a number of newspapers. Douglass' best-known work is his autobiography, definition of american literature, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slavewhich definition of american literature published in At the time some critics attacked the book, not believing that a black man could have written such an eloquent work.

Despite this, the book was an immediate bestseller. In addition to serving in a number of political posts during his life, he also wrote numerous influential articles and essays. Early African-American spiritual autobiographies were published in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

William L. Andrews argues that these early narratives "gave the twin themes of the Afro-American 'pregeneric myth'—knowledge and freedom—their earliest narrative form". These spiritual narratives have often been left out of the study of African-American literature because some scholars have deemed them historical or sociological documents, despite their importance to understanding African-American literature as a whole.

African-American women who wrote spiritual narratives had to negotiate the precarious positions definition of american literature being black and women in early America, definition of american literature. Women claimed their authority to preach and write spiritual narratives by citing the Epistle of Jamesoften calling themselves "doers of the word".

Women who wrote these narratives had a clear knowledge of literary genres and biblical narratives. Zilpha Elaw was born in in America to free parents.

 

African-American literature - Wikipedia

 

definition of american literature

 

Literature definition is - writings in prose or verse; especially: writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest. How to use literature in a sentence. African-American literature is the body of literature produced in the United States by writers of African descent. It begins with the works of such late 18th-century writers as Phillis Wheatley. Before the high point of slave narratives, African-American literature was dominated by . May 18,  · Before we begin a study such as this, it's important to define the scope of our concerns, and perhaps the most obvious place to start is with the title of our course - "American Literature I." Let's look at each part separately and ask what is meant by "American" and what is meant by "Literature.".