Ch 12: American Literary Developments

About This Chapter

In this chapter you will discover the political and environmental impacts on American literature. Discover the works and styles of authors such as Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and many more.

American Literary Developments - Chapter Summary

This chapter dives into the works and styles of many American authors, including an American author who lived in Europe, Henry James. It also explores the literary Realism movement as a response to Romanticism. After completing this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Discuss the impact Transcendentalism had on American literature
  • Summarize and analyze Henry David Thoreau's 'Walden'
  • Explain how the Literary Realism movement began as a response to Romanticism
  • Discuss how 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' impacted the American Civil War
  • Analyze the poetry of Emily Dickinson
  • Explain the style of Fredrick Douglass
  • Discuss the life of Margaret Fuller
  • Understand the life and works of authors such as Edith Wharton, Kate Chopin, and Mark Twain

This chapter is taught via a series of short, engaging videos that you can jump through at your own discretion. Feel free to skip the videos altogether and just read the transcripts. Our lessons also have video tags allowing you to revisit a main point without having to watch the video all over again.

13 Lessons in Chapter 12: American Literary Developments
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Transcendentalism: Impact on American Literature

1. Transcendentalism: Impact on American Literature

This video defines Transcendentalism, a literary movement of the mid-19th century. Authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman used their literary platforms to encourage Americans to transcend society's presumptions and create a personal, progressive relationship with spirituality and nature.

Henry David Thoreau's Walden: Summary and Analysis

2. Henry David Thoreau's Walden: Summary and Analysis

Henry David Thoreau was one of the most influential transcendental American writers and Walden was one of the movement's most important works. Let's explore why.

Emily Dickinson: Poems and Poetry Analysis

3. Emily Dickinson: Poems and Poetry Analysis

Emily Dickinson was a well-known poet of the mid-1800s whose numerous works have stood the test of time. But what in the world did her poems really mean? In this video, we'll explore one of her most recognized pieces and analyze its meaning and purpose.

Walt Whitman: Transcendental and Realist Poet

4. Walt Whitman: Transcendental and Realist Poet

Walt Whitman is now considered one of the greatest American poets of all time, but his work was not so well-loved when it first debuted. Find out what made the man and his poems so controversial.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: Biography, Poems, Books & Success

5. Ralph Waldo Emerson: Biography, Poems, Books & Success

America's often referred to as a 'melting pot' of cultures and ideas, but Americans still have a unique identity. Meet one of the most influential shapers of that identity in this lesson on the life and work of American thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Margaret Fuller: Biography & Quotes

6. Margaret Fuller: Biography & Quotes

In this lesson we will learn about the personal and professional life of Margaret Fuller, a women's rights activist in the 1800s. We will also look at some of her quotes.

The Literary Realism Movement: A Response to Romanticism

7. The Literary Realism Movement: A Response to Romanticism

In this lesson, we will learn about Realism in American literature, how this new literary movement grew out of Romanticism and what circumstances in our changing nation made that literary shift possible.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil War

8. Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil War

In this lesson, we will explore the context, characters and plot of one of the country's most influential novels, Harriet Beecher Stowe's 'Uncle Tom's Cabin.' Then, find out how it inched America closer to the Civil War.

Frederick Douglass: Narrative and Style

9. Frederick Douglass: Narrative and Style

In this lesson, we will learn about Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became one of the most powerful voices in the abolitionist movement in the United States. In addition, we will examine his written work, most notably his first autobiography - ''Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.''

Mark Twain: Biography, Works, and Style as a Regionalist Writer

10. Mark Twain: Biography, Works, and Style as a Regionalist Writer

In this lesson, we will learn about Mark Twain's life, his most acclaimed writings and his place as a realist and regionalist writer in this country's literary history.

Kate Chopin: Biography, Works, and Style

11. Kate Chopin: Biography, Works, and Style

In this lesson, we will learn about Kate Chopin, a Southern regionalist writer. First, we will consider how her life created a framework for stories that reflect early feminist values in a very traditional world, then we will look at her two most famous works, 'The Story of an Hour' and 'The Awakening.'

Edith Wharton: Biography and Major Novels

12. Edith Wharton: Biography and Major Novels

Who was Edith Wharton? Only the author of over 40 books and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In this lesson, we'll explore her life and major novels.

The American in Europe: Henry James' Daisy Miller

13. The American in Europe: Henry James' Daisy Miller

In this lesson, we will examine the literary theme of the American abroad in the work of expatriate writer Henry James. Specifically, we will examine James's depiction of character relationships, behavior and social context within his novella Daisy Miller.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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