Can American Literature to the Civil War be subdivided?
What is the American identity?
Puritans vs. Wars
Miller's Puritans "struggled with anxieties and fears
and with their human scale as motes in cosmos, but they were intellectual
heroes in the New World wilderness, tough-minded, courageous, bold, robust,
and central to Western civilization" (Tichi 211).
Miller's interpretation of the United States' role
The Significance of Puritanism in the Study of American
Eschatology: embodied in the American Dream
Presentism: During 1960s, the Vietnam War era, many
literary studies "perceived the United States not as a global democratic
benefactor but as a militaristic empire"(212).
Decline in 1970s: Since 1970s, critics put less emphasis
on Puritan passion than before.
Recent work: concerns about
"anguish, grief, and mourning"
Puritan Colonial Texts
Exclusiveness: "the literary text is exclusively
self-referential to one presumably homogeneous group, the Puritans, and
is emphatically masculine even as it subsumes two genders" (213).
Mary White Rowlandson's
True History of the Captivity
and Restoration of Mrs. Mary White Rowlandson
Before 1990s: Rowlandson's work was important because
it depicts "Puritan trials and doctrinal orthodoxy on the colonial frontier"
1990s and after: "Loss becomes overwhelmingly present
in its absence, and the Puritans become one ethnic group over and against
Gothic Novels: "criticisms of a hierarchical traditional
society and of "the excesses of individualism"' (Davidson 212-53).
Marxist and Feminist: approaches to "reconfigurations
and revaluations of revolutionary and postrevolutionary-early national
canonical and noncanonical texts"(217).
Reinterpretation "major" texts and inclusion marginal
F. O. Matthiessen's
defines the literary quality of American writing.
What is the quality of American writing? ?
viewed the United States as "a country of democratic values"
New Criticism: "The theorists of American literature
conceived the social structure of the literary work as a microcosm of collective
psychology or myth and thus made New Criticism into a method of culture
analysis" (Graff, Promise 217).
What is Authorship? ?¡§The
very conception of authorship has undergone the process of historicization
that discloses how problematic is the term, how coordinate through the
centuries with the unprecedented rise of individualization and private
New Historicism: tries to deal with the wholeness
of the society, however, the racial conflicts are left irresolvable.
Writing Situation: The classic American writers are
inevitably evaluated by their market places values.
Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick was once being praised
but later is regarded as a "false cultural hero."
Thoreau is a "democratic heroic individualist" (221).
The problems of individualism: its qualities of "change,
difference, possibility, mobility, restlessness flux." (222)
The Nineteenth-century Sentimental Fiction
The long forgotten women writers "come to the fore
in analysis that earn the title "sentimental power'" (224)
Hawthorne was most valued because his stories "moralize
on domestic topics."
How do women construct their sentimentality? ?
For women writers, writing becomes a way to express their private or secret
Perspective of Reader-response: ¡"the
reception of texts differentiates according to national-cultural patterns"
African American Literature
Before: was excluded from American literature
Recently: is "subjected
to theoretical analysis of its rhetorical structures"(Gates, Signifying