American Literature: Discovering who gets to be an American (Antebellum…
American Literature: Discovering who gets to be an American
While Gothic literature may not argue for the inclusion of one particular group of people, it does highlight the tensions between races that was building in America during this time period
Writers such as Edgar Allen Poe highlighted the psychological discomfort that was surrounding America. With the civil war right around the corner, every American was questioning if they belonged, and for how long.
"The Fall of the House of Usher" tells a story of siblings caving into madness, resulting in the ending of their family line. "the House of Usher - an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family mansion" (Poe 750)
With most southern money being passed from generation to generation, it was no surprise that wealthy southerners would have feared the loss of their power within the south. Poe's writing highlights this feeling that many may have had which was questioning whether or not they would be included in a post civil war America
With writing from Native Americans like Blackhawk, we learned that Native Americans felt they were being treated unfairly, and through their political essays, they moved the public to include them into American Society.
With works such as "The life of Blackhawk" Native Americans resisted the removal act
"Bad and Cruel, as our people were treated by the whites, not one of them was hurt or molested by any of my band"(Blackhawk
By highlighting how the Whites were treating them, they eventually persuaded the public that they should be included in the liberties of America, and that their traditions should be respected
Slave narratives highlighted the struggles African Americans were facing during this time period. By attempting to appeal to religious values, these writers attempted to persuade the public that African American's deserved the same liberties everyone else did, and with some of the most powerful writing, they were succesful.
Harriet Jacobs highlighted the horrors of slavery in her work titled "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" which mainly appealed to women. "My mistress had taught me the precepts of God's Word : 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' 'Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them'. But I was her slave, and I suppose she did not recognize me as her neighbor" (Jacobs 881)
By appealing to both Christians and women, narratives like these ultimately aimed to gain sympathy for the African American community, which was eventually successful.
After the civil war had ended, and many had just gained their liberty, racial tensions were high. Women also felt that they deserved a place within American society. Their writing was mainly concerned with gender roles and motherhood.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story of a woman kept in captivity in her writing "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Shes states "I don't know why I should write this. I don't want to. I don't feel able. And I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way-it is such a relief!"(Gilman 516)
Here we see a woman who is most likely suffering from post par tum depression, who is being controlled by a man who has power over her. With stories like these appealing to women, she ultimately aimed to persuade society that women also deserved a place within America.
Charlotte Perkins can also been seen as someone who helped the feminist movement during her time. Her stories detailed the patriarchy and the control women faced.
We ended the semester with authors like Carmela Machado who detailed their entire life in her writing. Focusing much more on the sensory details of life.
Modernism and Harlem Renaissance writing
This kind of writing took a different approach for African Americans rather than the slave narratives. By drawing on connections to culture, music, and family to discover African American place in society
Baldwin's writing in particular highlight the power of music within a culture, and we learn to see all sides of someones life, rather than just our own perspective
Mary Rowlandson detailed her captivity by the Native Americans in her writing. It could ultimately be used to help both Native Americans and Women earn their place in American society.
We read many works this semester that had a political motive, it is the most powerful way to persuade society to your cause. Both the Haitian and the United States declarations of independence told their rulers that the people would no longer bow to them.
The two works did this in very different ways. The US declaration uses political language to express why the people are upset, and what liberties they believe they deserve.
The Hatiian document was written much more agressively and explicitly stated that the people were done being slaughtered by Spain. Take for example how it states "I have brought together those courageous soldiers who, as liberty lay dying, spilled their blood to save it"
This is drastically different from the type of writing we see in the the United States declaration which simply starts with "We the people"