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Literature of Early America: A Meeting of Peoples and Cultures Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the pre-1800 experiences of Native Americans,

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Presentation on theme: "Literature of Early America: A Meeting of Peoples and Cultures Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the pre-1800 experiences of Native Americans,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Literature of Early America: A Meeting of Peoples and Cultures Over the next few weeks, we’ll be taking a look at the pre-1800 experiences of Native Americans, slaves, and Puritans through their oral traditions and writing. Materials for today: Grab a textbook and be ready to take notes and answer questions Vocab builder: Our textbooks breakdown American literature chronologically. Who can define that for me? Make sure you take notes on words in red that we discuss. Khronos = Greek for time + logia = Greek for “study of” What other words have chrono in them? Synchronize / Chronometer / Chronicle (a history of events in time order without interpretation) / anachronism

2 Take a look at this timeline 1492 1619 1620 A.Puritans B.Native Americans C.African Slaves Can you match the dates above to the groups on the left? Why are the dates significant to each group? Can you find the answers by looking at the timeline (pages 4 - 8) and reading the Historical Background on page 4 of your textbooks?

3 We’ll be looking at literature from these three groups… 1492: Columbus “discovers” America 1619: First African slaves are brought to Jamestown, VA 1620: Pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock A.Puritans B.Native Americans C.African Slaves Can you guess what were the foremost concerns of the literature of these groups?

4 Indians/Native Americans: What’s in a name? Discussion questions for you before we proceed to the myths… Did Columbus really discover America? Where did he land in 1492? What is it about the word “discover” that might be insulting to native people? Why are Indians called Indians? Is there a connection to Columbus? Where did he land? Where did he think he was? Are Native Americans really native? What are some stereotypical images of Indians? How can we avoid using them?

5 American Originals: Indians arrived here by crossing the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago. Even though they technically immigrated here, they were also here first.

6 Stereotype Who wants to define it and try using it in a sentence? a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. The stereotype of an Indian wearing a feather war bonnet is not accurate. Only a few Western tribes wore these.

7 Native Americans have often been stereotypically portrayed: as “obstacles to progress” as “bloodthirsty savages” as stoic (indifferent to pain) and emotionless as laconic, reluctant speakers. One of the most damaging and stubborn injustices done to Native Americans is how they have been portrayed in film and TV, as we’ll see in this clip.


9 Other common ways Indians are stereotyped or misleadingly portrayed  Before Europeans arrived, the Indians had no blanket term for themselves. As our textbook map (page 3) shows Indians are actually made up of dozens of distinct peoples with their own myths, languages, and customs.  Sometimes we talk about Indians as if they were extinct, like the dinosaurs. For example, some filmstrips and books may have titles like "How the Indians Lived," as though there are not any Indian people living today.  Anachronisms. For example, A movie set before 1540 should not show Indians on horses or riding in wagons. These things did not exist in the Indian world at this time.  Native Americans should be viewed as heirs of long traditions extending back before contact with Europeans. Their history doesn’t start when white people made first contact with them. Source:ANTHROPOLOGY OUTREACH OFFICE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY 1996

10 Characteristics of Myths 1.Used to explain the ORIGINS of the universe, earth, seas, people, animals, fire, wind (natural world), etc. Technical term: Cosmogony (from Greek Kosmos [universe] + gonos [offspring]) Pronounced like mahogany = the creation or origin of the world or universe. Compare to genealogy. 2.May include nonhuman characters (gods and goddesses, spirits, animals). 3.Might take place in an unformed, bare version of the world before living things were created. 4.Tend to include archetypes: the hero, the trickster, the orphan, the caregiver, the rebel… 5.They sometimes ask reader to accept strange or supernatural occurrences as a normal part of the story (magic realism). 6.They address life’s big questions: Who are we? Why are we here? What is our purpose? 7.They include moral elements: Examples of right and wrong behavior. 8.They attempt to make sense of opposites (dualities like light/dark, summer/winter, mortality and immortality, being and nothingness). 9.Because we name things to help give order to life, myths tend to include lists of names for plants, animals, etc. 10.Myths may be stories that are used as part of rituals or ceremonies. Source:

11 Vocabulary 1.Chronology: Relating to time. Using time as an organizing principle. 2.Stereotype: a biased, fixed or clichéd idea about a group or thing. 3.Stoic: indifferent to pain (or pleasure) 4.Laconic: marked by using words sparingly; terse or concise 5.Cosmogony: (rhymes with mahogany) theories or explanations of the origins of the universe 6.Magic Realism: a seemingly realistic story that includes fantastic elements that are taken for granted. 7.Duality: The state of being two, or of being divided into two; twofold division or character; twoness. 8.Anachronism: A chronological mistake; the erroneous dating of an event, circumstance, or object.

12 "The Blood Sonnets” by Sherman Alexie "When my father left me and my mother and siblings to binge drink for days and weeks, I always wept myself into nosebleeds. And, sure, you might think this is another poem about a wounded father and son, but, honestly, the only blood was mine. And it flowed from absence, not from a punch or kick. "My father, drunk or not, was kind and passive and never lifted a fist to strike. Drunk daddy only hit the road. And I would become the rez* Hamlet who missed his father so much that he bled red ghosts. Years later, in Seattle, my nose bled when my mother called and said, 'Your father is dead.'” *rez = Native American slang for “reservation” Q: What does it mean to you that, “years later,” when Alexie gets news of his father’s death, his nose bleeds? DO NOW READ THE POEM, ANSWER THE QUESTION, BE READY TO DISCUSS

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