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American Literature 1700- 1820 The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason.

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Presentation on theme: "American Literature 1700- 1820 The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Literature The Enlightenment and the Age of Reason

2 The Age of Reason

3 What is reason?

4 To think logically

5 How did Enlightenment thinkers differ from scientists?

6 They applied reason to the human world not just the natural world! Natural World: Scientists applied reason to it using the scientific method The Human world includes government and law

7 THE AMERICAN ENLIGHTENMENT American Revolution American independence seen as a divine sign that America and her people were destined for greatness. Military victory fanned nationalistic hopes for a great new literature. Yet except for political writing, few works of note appeared during or soon after the Revolution American Copyright Law American books were harshly reviewed in England. The search for a native literature became a national obsession. The copyright law of 1790, which allowed pirating, was nationalistic in intent. Drafted by Noah Webster, the great lexicographer who later compiled an American dictionary, the law protected only the work of American authors; it was felt that English writers should look out for themselves.

8 Causes of the American Revolution page The 13 English Colonies Growing Discontent Early Clashes Part of British global trade Mercantilist policies Navigation Acts: regulated colonial trade Colonists felt entitled to the rights of English citizens French and Indian War drained British treasury. Britain passed and enforced new tax law on the colonists No taxation without representation. Boston Massacre Boston Tea Party Punitive laws passed by British to punish colonists Continental Congress with representatives from all 13 colonies

9 Boston Tea Party (1773)

10 Lets Party Like Its 1699! 18 th century was a period of major change in American ideas and ideals… 18 th century was a period of major change in American ideas and ideals… As with beliefs of Puritans, changes originated in England, but took on new spirit and meaning in colonies. As with beliefs of Puritans, changes originated in England, but took on new spirit and meaning in colonies. What factors help explain the movement away from the severe faith of the Puritans? What factors help explain the movement away from the severe faith of the Puritans?

11 Say What?!?! Enlightenment thinkers de-emphasized grace and pre-destination in favor of moral choice and scientific inquiry. Enlightenment thinkers de-emphasized grace and pre-destination in favor of moral choice and scientific inquiry. –virtue, order, reason, sympathy How do you think religious figures felt about this changing view of the universe and how people should function within it? How do you think religious figures felt about this changing view of the universe and how people should function within it?

12 But What About Providence? Enlightenment brought a new, exciting way of seeing the universe… Enlightenment brought a new, exciting way of seeing the universe… universe as an orderly system universe as an orderly system With application of reason, humanity would comprehend universe (think of Newtons Laws). With application of reason, humanity would comprehend universe (think of Newtons Laws). How might this change the way the common man felt about religion and God ? How might this change the way the common man felt about religion and God ? –Not necessarily a rejection…

13 Benjamin Franklin Drawing Down Electricity from the Sky Down Electricity from the Sky (Benjamin West, ca. 1816) (Benjamin West, ca. 1816)

14 I Just Believe in Science, Okay! Know then thyself, presume not God to scan/The proper study of mankind is man. (Alexander Pope) Know then thyself, presume not God to scan/The proper study of mankind is man. (Alexander Pope) What does that mean? What does that mean?

15 The Philosophy

16 Deism Many of these thinkers (including Jefferson and Franklin) called themselves Deists. Many of these thinkers (including Jefferson and Franklin) called themselves Deists. Man can deduce the existence of a supreme being from the fact that the universe exists rather than because of what the Bible says. Man can deduce the existence of a supreme being from the fact that the universe exists rather than because of what the Bible says.

17 What about Fire and Brimstone? Deists also thought that a harmonious universe proves the beneficence of God. Deists also thought that a harmonious universe proves the beneficence of God. How might that be? How might that be?

18 Take Your Buckled Shoes and Shove Em! Humankind is naturally good. (What was the Puritan stance on this, again?) Humankind is naturally good. (What was the Puritan stance on this, again?) Tabula RasaTabula Rasa The more we understand and sympathize with each other, the richer our social and spiritual lives will be. The more we understand and sympathize with each other, the richer our social and spiritual lives will be.

19 And Furthermore… Our business here on Earth is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct. (Locke) Our business here on Earth is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct. (Locke) So are these people entirely different from the Puritans? Whats similar? So are these people entirely different from the Puritans? Whats similar? Founders and Faith? Founders and Faith? –Natures God, natural rights and public religion

20 Neo-Classicism What would be the best way for writers in this era to articulate their views? What would be the best way for writers in this era to articulate their views? What is the function of their writing, and how does it differ from the function of Puritan writing? What is the function of their writing, and how does it differ from the function of Puritan writing? Are there similarities? Are there similarities?

21 Rhetoric Today this term means the art of speaking or writing effectively (especially persuasive speaking or writing). In Franklins time the term meant the same thing, but more precisely it stood for the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times. Logic A system of rules used to express reasoning Reason If one is rational, then he has the ability to reason. What does it mean to reason? Reasoning is a type of thinking used to seek a truth through cause and effect and through drawing conclusions. Socratic Method A technique in which a debater does not argue directly but instead asks a series of questions, with the result that the opponent comes either to the desired knowledge by answering the questions or to a deeper awareness of the limits of his knowledge.

22 Those Greeks Had It Right… These writers saw the lit. of the ancient Greeks and Romans as the ideal to which all must aspire. These writers saw the lit. of the ancient Greeks and Romans as the ideal to which all must aspire. Emulation of these classical styles and traditions Emulation of these classical styles and traditions Restraint rather than emotion Restraint rather than emotion Dignified, refined and decorous language Dignified, refined and decorous language

23 Should We Be Wearing Togas? Writing, especially poetry, was seen as having a public function; it was not seen as a means for private, individual expression. Writing, especially poetry, was seen as having a public function; it was not seen as a means for private, individual expression. A mode through which timeless truths could be imparted. A mode through which timeless truths could be imparted. self-help self-help Chicken Soup for the Rational Soul? Chicken Soup for the Rational Soul?

24 Artifacts of Different Eras Thou hast a house on high erect, Framed by that mighty Architect, With glory richly furnished, Stands permanent though this be fled. Its purchased and paid for too By Him who hath enough to do. A price so vast as is unknown Yet by His gift is made thine own; Theres wealth enough, I need no more, Farewell, my pelf, farewell my store. The world no longer let me love, My hope and treasure lies above. (Bradstreet, 1666) While virtue warms the generous breast, There heaven-born freedom shall reside, Nor shall the voice of war molest, Nor Europes all-aspiring pride – There Reason shall new laws devise, And order from confusion rise. Forsaking kings and regal state, With all their pomp and fancied bliss, The traveler [admits], convinced though late, No realm so free, so blessed as this – The east is half to slaves consigned, Where kings and priests enchain the mind. (On the Religion of Nature, Philip Freneau, 1785)

25 Order and Virtue We should organize our lives into an ordered sequence of reasoned and virtuous thoughts and behaviors We should organize our lives into an ordered sequence of reasoned and virtuous thoughts and behaviors Aim is human perfection Aim is human perfection How would the Puritans have felt about the concept of humans perfecting themselves for themselves and by themselves? How would the Puritans have felt about the concept of humans perfecting themselves for themselves and by themselves?

26 The Literature

27 The Declaration of Independence (1776) We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

28 Declaration of Independence Drafted by Thomas Jefferson People had the right to alter or abolish unjust governments. Popular sovereignty All government power comes from the people King had trampled the peoples natural rights. Colonists now had the right to rebel

29 John Trumbull (1756 –1843): Declaration of Independence (1817)

30 LITERARY CHARACTERISTICS emphasis on logic and rational thought, not emotions; emphasis on the social/good of the community, not the individual presence of numerous classical allusions; use of satire; use of elevated diction; formal style that adhered to set rhyme schemes, such as couplets; two-dimensional characters or stock types that represent a class or vice Influence of Drama-comic satires rise of literary magazines novel in various forms, including picaresque, gothic, and novel of manners

31 Newspapers and Books Many newspapers! Colonists began to publish their own books Almanacs were very popular. Published poetry, regional history, autobiographies Captive Narrative was a unique form of literature found in the colonies It told the stories of people captured by Indians

32 Literature of the American Revolution: in an age of revolution, literature was of course greatly influenced by political texts non-fictional texts e.g. Thomas Paine: Common Sense (1776), Thomas Jefferson: Notes on the State of Virginia (1782)

33 Key Writers of the Age of Reason

34 Ben Franklin Philosopher, scientist, publisher, legislator, and diplomat Relationship with France First American –Colonial unity –Idea of an American nation

35 Michel-Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoeur ( ) farmers letters: Letters From An American Farmer (1782) a series of letters, Set in rural America on the cusp of the Revolution, these pieces celebrate the independence of the yeoman farmer from the hierarchy and corruption of the Old World Crevecoeur illustrates the idealized version of a free society, America, a civic-humanist ideal of the freehold farm, virtuous independence and incorruptibility

36 Philip Freneau ( ): Father of American Poetry Poet of American Independence: Freneau provides incentive and inspiration to the revolution by writing such poems as "The Rising Glory of America" (1771) and "Pictures of Columbus. (1774) (patriotic verse) first American poet to write about the Indians: The Indian Burying Ground (1788); The Dying Indian (1784) anti-slavery poetry: To Sir Toby (1792)

37 Phillis Wheatley On Being Brought from Africa to America 'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land, Taught my benighted soul to understand That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our sable race with scornful eye, Their colour is a diabolic die. Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain, May be refin'd and join th'angelic train. (1773) The first African-American to print a book (of poetry)


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