Survey American Lit II
Survey American Lit II ENG 442
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This 12 page Class Notes was uploaded by Sarah Reichert on Friday October 30, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to ENG 442 at Texas A&M University - Commerce taught by Derek Royal in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 12 views. For similar materials see /class/232416/eng-442-texas-a-m-university-commerce in Foreign Language at Texas A&M University - Commerce.
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Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature 11 Imagism The imagists were a group of poets active in England and America between roughly 1909 and 1918 and who collectively formulated a set of aesthetic principles as to treatment diction and rhyme The most notable gures of this movement were Ezra Pound Hilda Doolittle HD and Amy Lowell The emphasis in this kind of writing was on the poetic image which Pound described as that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant in time Imagist principles were articulated by Ezra Pound HD and Richard Aldington in a manifesto published in the March 1913 issue of Poetry under the pseudonym FS Flint The three tenets of the Imagist Manifesto were 1 Direct treatment of the thing whether subjective or objective II To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation 111 As regarding rhythm to compose in sequence of the musical phrase not in sequence of the metronome Amy Lowell in Tendencies in Modern American Poetry 1917 expanded upon the objectives of imagism this way To use the language of common speech but to always use the exact not nearly exact word To avoid cliches To create new rhythms as the expressions of a new mood To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject To present an image ie to be concrete firm and definite in a poetic picture To strive for concentration the very essence of poetry To suggest rather than to offer complete statements Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature 11 Huck s Moral Growth 7 One traditional way of reading Huck Finn is through his picaresque ight his is physical journey parallels the metaphorical journal he undergoes Huck s growth is largely re ected in his attitudes toward others speci cally when it comes to thievery Virtually every major episode contains some theft 7 this is one way that Twain plots Huck s moral depth and awareness l 1 kJI The imaginary theft in the early Tom episodes for instance in chapter 2 gt There are no moral consequences gt Tom relies on authorities as a guide to behavior The petty theft along the river for instance in chapter 12 gt Borrowing items as he and Jim need them gt Huck tries to rationalize thievery but realizes there are some moral implications such as a farmer s loss of product The scene on the Walter Scott gt Robbers attempt to rationalize murder chapter 12 gt Huck worries about the robbers and later feels good about having helped them chapter 13 gt Huck learns from murderous men how not to act The Royal Nonesuch chapter 23 gt After experiences at the revival Huck s growing dislike of the King and the Duke gt Huck s description of the Nonesuch reveals the bare ridiculousness underlying this tragedy Stealing from the Wilkses gt It deprives family of its livelihood gt Huck is in a bind for if he betrays the King and Duke he risks losing Jim gt Huck s disgust 7 it was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race chapter 24 gt Huck devises a plan to steal chapter 26 7 this is highly ironic for Huck steals the money in order to learn about the sheer gravity of stealing gt Huck learns moral lesson inversely learning through the negative actions of the King and Duke 6 Stealing Jim gt The most signi cant episode in Huck s growing moral awareness gt The implications of stealing a slave are very serious 0 For the southern states the slave is a commodity o For the free states the slave is a free individual 0 If Huck helps Jim he ll be aligning himself with abolitionists is he ready for that gt Huck s conscience bothering him 0 His decisions in chapters 16 and 31 two of the most signi cant moments in the novel 0 In chapter 31 going to hell is the worst thing for a boy of Huck s sensibility he may not be religious but he believes in hell consider his abundant superstitious beliefs 0 Contrast this to his behavior in chapter 1 gt Tom s game stealing Jim back and Huck s reaction to this in chapter 33does Huck morally backslide or does he strategically play along with Tom only as a matter of eventually freeing Jim gt Tom as yardstick by which to measure Huck s moral growth Tom Huck Static Dynamic Romantic Realist Absolute Relative Principled Pragmatic See for instance chapter 35 on stealing a watermelon Huck s Two Big Moral Tests 1 Huck deciding not to give up Jim to the slave hunters chapter 16 2 Huck deciding to go to Hell instead of betraying Jim chapter 31 Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature 11 Postmodernism It would be a mistake to call postmodernism a de nite literary movement just as it would be a mistake to call modernism a distinct movement because it encompasses so many different ideas issues tendencies and experiments The 1960s is usually considered a safe starting point for a shift toward this literary and general artistic sensibility What is more the works of many late 20thcentury theorists have had a large in uence if not in the production of this literature then in the criticism surrounding it This would include theorists such as Jacque Derrida Michel Foucault Jean Baudrillard Jacque Lacan Gilles Deluze and Felix Guattari Julia Kristeva Jean Francois Lyotard Helene Cixous Judith Butler Edward Said and Homi Bhabha who were themselves in uenced by earlier thinkers such as Karl Marx Sigmund Freud Fredrick Nietzsche Walter Benjamin Georg Lukacs Louis Althusser Martin Heidegger and Roland Barthes The authors usually referenced as postmodern are a disparate bunch many sharing little in the way of thematic or aesthetic commonality What is more many authors usually not associated with postmodemismiJohn Updike for instanceiseem to incorporate postmodern ideas or strategies into their supposedly nonpostmodern works So trying to pin down any clearcut de nition of postmodernism and even de ne an inclusive postmodern canon is problematic Note One tendency of postmodern rhetoric is to qualify or problematize certain words terms or ideas that may have traditional or historical meanings As such many times quotation marks are used to draw attention to the potential problem of commonly held meanings and assumptions Nonetheless there are a number of American authors who are usually read as examples of postmodern writing Thomas Pynchon Donald Barthelme John Barth Ishmael Reed Walter Abish Robert Coover John Hawkes William Gaddis Ronald Sukenick William Gass Gilbert Sorrentino E L Doctorow Joseph Heller Toni Morrison Philip Roth Leslie Marmon Silko Kathy Acker Stanley Elkin Gloria Anzaldua Don DeLillo Paul Auster Maxine Hong Kingston Melena Maria Viramontes David Foster Wallace Douglas Coupland and William T Vollman in ction Charles Olson Denise Levertov Frank O Hara Allen Ginsberg Susan Howe John Ashbery Gary Snider Clayton Eschelman Amiri Baraka Lyn Hejinian Ron Silliman Barrett Watten Bruce Andrews Charles Bernstein Jackson MacLow Michael Palmer Fanny Howe Gwendolyn Brooks and David Shapiro in poetry Edward Albee Sam Shepard John Guare August Wilson David Mamet David Henry Hwang Maria Irene Fomes and Paula Vogel in drama Although postmodernism is a disputed termiWhen did the postmodern period begin Is it still with us Might there be postmodern tendencies in modernist literature Is there even such a thing as a post to the modernist project Might what we call postmodern be nothing more than the logical extension of modernism Is it more of a time period than an aesthetic movement i there are nonetheless certain striking tendencies in contemporary literature and art for our purposes at least that should warrant our attention V V V V VVVVV Postmodernism emphasizes whether indifferently or in celebration the indeterminacy of meaning and the decenteredness of existence This emphasis on indeterminacy results in writers playing with the conventions of the novel where for instance authors talk with their characters plots don t unfold in any tradition mannerior refuse to unfold at allitexts constantly turn back on themselves in a metafictional manner and in a general sense narrative expectations are shattered As with texts identity becomes fragmented and decentered Individual selves are seen not as coherent entities but elaborate constructs whose parts are determined by language place and societal forces which are themselves constructs Like identity experience becomes fragmented perhaps best typified by the commercialism and media which bombard us Experience becomes a constant negotiation of images and symbols which seem eeting and unanchored to any deeper meaning The distinction between high and low culture is subverted resulting in a pastiche of techniques genres and even media Issues of authority in the sense of power structure in the sense of individual identity as well as in the sense of a selfcontained writer are called into question Concepts such as totality unity or determinate meaning are jettisoned in the postmodern schema Along with this universalism becomes a suspect word displaced with more of an emphasis on particularization Ideas of the natural ia natural order a natural cultural practice etciare seen to be nothing more than our own linguistic constructions Something isn t necessarily natural we merely come to call it that Language therefore becomes a major issue in postmodern studies Postmodern writers and critics emphasize the ways in which we use rhetorical force to assert claims of truth Tropes figures and other techniques of persuasive discourse become central Contingency displaces metaphysical determinacy Human experience thought and behavior are seen not as part of some grand design but instead the result of contingent forces of history place ethnicity gender economics as well as random forces A belief in the pristine uncontaminated and original ideal becomes suspect This is especially the case when it comes to issues of text language Extraneous meaningsi stains if you williare revealed to be part of the structure Language then is seen not as stable but as uid and indeterminate There is slippage Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature II American Regionalism and Local Color Literature Regional or local color literature is ction and poetry focusing on characters dialects customs and geography particular to a speci c region whether it be New England the South the Midwest the West or even the southern plantation a subset of the genre In uenced in many ways by Southwestern humor it was a prevailing mode of writing between the end of the Civil War and the rst part of the twentieth century According to the Oxford Companion to American Literature In localcolor literature one nds the dual in uence of romanticism and realism since the author frequently looks away from ordinary life to distant lands strange customs or exotic scenes but retains through minute detail a sense of delity and accuracy of description 439 Richard H Brodhead in The Columbia Literary History of the United States contextualizes regionalism this way Regionalism the staple literary form of the postwar decades has as its social background the draining of life from an old agrarian culture to the new cities and the supersession of local cultures by the new national culture modern transportation and marketing opened up But in terms of its cultural production the literature of regionalism is a product of more particularly of the highcultural literary establishment 474 Some of regionalistic literature s weaknesses may include nostalgia or sentimentality The customary form of this mode of writing is the sketch or short story although Hamlin Garland argued for the novel of local color Regional literature incorporates the broader concept of sectional differences and in many ways can be directly linked to realism Eric Sundquist de nes the difference between realism and localcolor writing this way Economic or political power can itself be seen to be de nitive of a realist aesthetic in that those in power say white urban males have been more often judged realists while those removed from the seats of power say Midwestemers blacks immigrants or women have been categorized as regionalists Some critics have argued that this literary movement in chronicling the nation s various cultural regions helped to reunify the country after the Civil War and that it contributed greatly to the latenineteenthcentury ideas of national identity Some characteristics of regional or localcolor literature 0 Setting The emphasis is frequently on nature and the limitations it imposes settings are frequently remote and inaccessible The setting is integral to the story and may sometimes become a character in itself Characters Local color stories tend to be concerned with the character of the district or region rather than with the individual characters may become character types sometimes quaint or stereotypical The characters are marked by their adherence to the old ways by dialect and by particular personality traits central to the region In women s local color ction the heroines are often unmarried women or young girls Narrator The narrator is typically an educated observer from the world beyond who learns something from the characters while preserving a sometimes sympathetic sometimes ironic distance from them The narrator serves as mediator between the rural folk of the tale and the urban audience to whom the tale is directed Plots It has been said that quotnothing happensquot in local color stories by women authors and often very little does happen Stories may include lots of storytelling and revolve around the community and its rituals Themes Many local color stories share an antipathy to change and a certain degree of nostalgia for an alwayspast golden age A celebration of community and acceptance in the face of adversity characterizes women39s local color fiction Thematic tension or con ict between urban ways and oldfashioned rural values is often symbolized by the intrusion of an outsider or interloper who seeks something from the community Voice It includes the use of dialect to establish credibility and authenticity of regional setting It also is characterized by detailed descriptions no matter how small or insignificant that may be central to the understanding of the region Structure The framed story is frequently used in the presentation of the central narratives where the speaker tells of some tale he or she has heard from or about some region Some regional authors include Harriet Beecher Stowe Mary E Wilkins Freeman Sarah Ome Jewett and Rowland Robinson in the New England Kate Chopin George Washington Cable Constance Fenimore Woolson Charles W Chesnutt Thomas Nelson Page and Joel Chandler Harris in the South Edward Eggleston Hamlin Garland and James Whitcomb Riley in the Midwest and Bret Harte Mark Twain and Mary Austin in the West Daniel Webster Davis and Paul Laurence Dunbar have often been read as African American local color writers Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature 11 Study Points for Sarah Orne Jewett s A White Heron Story begins as a joumey growth narrative 7 Sylvia wondering in the woods lled with shadows when she meets the young man As her name suggests Sylvia is associated with the woods What might this imply as to her character Gender issues become central in the story What are the different gendered ways that Sylvia and the young man collect nature The white heron means different things to each main character What does it mean to the young man What might it mean to Sylvia The young man is sometimes associated with phallic images the gun and the jackknife he gives Sylvia What is the underlying relationship between Sylvia and the young man How is this associated with the forest and nature Consider the following 0 Her heart gives a wild bea when the young man tells her about the heron o The first day they search for the heron and after the young man gives her the jackknife Sylvia watches him with loving admiration and is described this way the woman s heart asleep in the child was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love Sylvia climbs a tall tree ascending the heights in order to find the nesting place of the heron Jewett writes She knows his the heron s secret now What is this secret How might it relate to Sylvia s maturational development Sylvia s secret is where the white heron lives but in the end she decides not to share her secret with the young man What might be the sexual connotations of this Of the white virginal heron gt What do you make of the intrusive narrator toward the end of the story Why does Jewett s narrator interject editorial commentary and exclamations in the last several paragraphs Consider the following examples 0 The narrative voice demands that Sylvia look look Now look down again wait wait as she climbs the tree 0 The narrator personifies loyalty in her address in the last paragraph Why 0 The story ends with the following statements Were the birds better friends than their hunter might have beeniwho can tell Whatever treasures were lost to her woodlands and summertime remember Bring your gifts and graces and tell your secrets to this lonely country child Is this ending melodramatic What is the narrator demanding here gt What is the tone of the storyiin other words what might be Jewett s attitudes toward Sylvia and her growth Does she wish her to always be innocent What are the author s attitudes toward the young man Are they all negative VVVVVV O O Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature II American Romanticism Generally speaking American romanticism spanned the period between the Jacksonian Era and the end of the Civil War 18301865 The United States was undergoing dramatic transformations during this periodicultural political economic and industrial changes that would ultimately lead to the explosive ruptures of a civil war In literature these decades are considered by many to comprise America s rst great creative period Many of the writers coming to the fore during this time helped to set the stageiand de ne the termsifor what would become a true American literature as opposed to something borrowed and recycled from England or Europe Literary critic F O Matthiessen in 1941 famously referred to this era as the American Renaissance This owering of literary activity was made up of a wide variety of writers Some who began their art during the Federalist Age ieg Washington Irving William Cullen Bryant and James Fenimore Cooperiwent on to de ne what we now know as American romanticism Those authors emerging later include novelists Nathaniel Hawthorne William Gilmore Simms Herman Melville Harriet Beecher Stowe poets Edgar Allan Poe John Greenleaf Whittier James Russell Lowell Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Walt Whitman Emily Dickinson and essayists Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau and Oliver Wendell Holmes with many working in multiple genres Although this varied collection of writers worked under the banners of diverse creative philosophiesiTranscendentalism historical romance the gothic sentimental ctionione can see many similar traits and assumptions among its practitioners This renaissance in American literature resulted from among other things 0 dramatic increases in literacy and education 0 the growth of the publishing industry and the emergence of larger publishing houses including books periodicals gift books almanacs and annuals o the emerging signi cance of the domestic ction market 0 a stronger sense of nationhood in many ways brought about by 0 the growth of larger newspapers spanning larger regions 0 the ongoing expansion into the west a sense of Manifest Destiny 0 a powerful emphasis on reform and humanitarianism in both the North as well as in the South eg growing attention to abolition and women s rights 0 a ongoing shift from Jeffersonian agrarianism to an emphasis on business and technology the word technology was coined in 1829 In a very general sense some of the features de ning American romanticism include o a faith in the value of individualism and the legitimacy of intuitive perception o a sense that the natural world is a source of goodness and a check against human corruption an emphasis on the innocence of nature the glori cation of the noble savage a desire to escape from the constraints of society a rejection of rationalism and the philosophies that made up the Age of Reason a championing of feeling over reason an emphasis of individual free expression over the constraints of law and custom a revolt against traditional art forms characterized by strict limits ie neoclassicism an intense questioning of materialism and the material world this is especially the case with Transcendental thinkers an interest in the psychic states of expression and understanding manifesting itself in the gothic the supernatural the mystery and the kind of moonlight inspiration articulated Hawthome s Custom House iin other words there is an emphasis on fantastic depictions of reality a heavy use of symbolism or allegory that in many cases would be atemporal and take place in geographically unidentified regions for some writers such as Hawthome Melville and Poe an ambiguous positioning that refuses any easy answers to cultural or aesthetic problems This sense of romantic irony is characterized by 0 a holding out for alternate or antithetical possibilities of meaning sustained by a heavy emphasis on symbolism without clearly supporting any particular possibility of meaning 0 a selfconscious even metafictional sense of the art being created as well as an accompanying critique of that art 0 an awareness that he does not expect his arguments to be taken seriously especially in the rational senseiand does not wish it to be 0 consciousness of the comic implications of his own seriousness sometimes an emphasis on the irrational even perverse side of existence suggesting that there is more going on underneath the seeming ordered surface of realityithat unnatural impulses or nightmarish terrors are what really underlie civilization patriotic attention paid to the American landscape celebrating dense forests meadows glades prairies streams and even the vast oceans surrounding the continent an enthusiastic sense for some that adherence to such beliefs can lead to moral growth Prof Derek P Royal ENG 442 7 Survey of American Literature 11 American Realism Realism as a movement in American literature spanned roughly the last third of the nineteenth century and in many ways was a reaction to much of the earlier romantic and sentimental ction It differed from American romanticism in that it avoided the symmetry balance and contrived plots that de ned much of the earlier ction 2 avoided undue emphasis on idealized settings and social situations 3 attempted to shift from imaginative sensibility and Emersonian optimism with its valuing of intuition the privileging of the noble savage and an emphasis on the independent Jeffersonian agrarian In uenced in many ways by the work of French writers Honore de Balzac and Gustave Flaubert American realists were chie y concerned with the commonplaces of middleclass life Philosophic pragmatism a school of thought concemed with the practicality of everyday life was also an in uence on many of these writers Charles S Peirce who coined the term pragmatism in 1878 one such proponent believed that value and meaning in life are signi cant only with a recognition of their utility and consequences Many realist writers attempted to describe life without idealization subjective prejudice or romantic color Those considered realist in one way or another and some arguably include William Dean Howells Henry James Harriet Beecher Stowe Mark Twain Sarah Orne Jewett and Kate Chopin V American Realism resulted from among other things the closing of the westem frontierithe transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869 a new generation of writers who lived in Europe after the Civil War and who were in uenced by realism in art as well as in literature the effects of the Civil War different regions of the country once unfamiliar to American writers were now exposed this rst modern war demanded a more realistic treatment of its subject matter common people not aristocratic warriors were seen as heroes the war was seen as a triumph of American principles which helped in the call to a new American literature the war unleashed forces of industry mass production technological innovation national pro ts and became a stable market for foreign capital industrialization immigration and urbanization the growth of technological innovations such as the telephone invented in 1876 and the automobile whose popularity in the 1890s saw much growth social transformations that affected the authors personally had grown up to adulthood in an antebellum America but had to confront rapid and disruptive changes in this new world Some of the general features of Realism include 0 an adherence to common everyday life a belief that details are important in an of themselves details make ction seem like life a deemphasizing of literary symbols symbols in a narrative are limited to ideas within the text not to larger external truths a rejection of absolute truths moral truths are always relativistic pragmatic attitudes toward life the need to expose the false and repressive nature of many commonly held beliefs and assumptions a valuation of toughness and competence and an admiration of the pro an antielitist attitude a literature about and for the common person characters that have mixed motives and are fallible and whose choices re ect the lives of everyday people characters that grow andor decline in the text and respond to their social contexts 4 character is a process that develops as the text moves along not an inherent way of being characters who are not types but speci c and unique uniquely personal an attempt to understand characters never to judge them the narrator never intrudes to judge or moralize
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