In this document, I attempt to tell the history of American literary periods in under 15 pages by focusing on the events and ideas that created the evolution in American thinking and writing. I concentrate on themes such as identity, culture, governance, religion, the definition of self, and the definition of the American Dream.
I attempt to modernize the focus of this history, concentrating primarily on historical authors who are still known today and yet giving new attention to a few previously overlooked voices. But, I have omitted some folks who were in the canon during my childhood but who no longer hold prominence outside literary circles. Times change.
I have also re-envisioned the American literary history in terms of international conflict, the development of the American Dream and who has access to it, injustice, and social conditions such as race, gender, political power, etc. Further, I discuss how earlier literary periods affect later ones--and how ideas from each period are still alive and well today.
This document attempts to create a basic scaffold upon which an American Literature class can be built. It offers the bones; adding the meat is up to the teacher--and the students.
I uploaded it as a Word document so you an make changes.
There is a related PowerPoint that is available for separate purchase here:
American Lit Slideshow