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Ch 9: American Literature: Examples & Analysis

About This Chapter

Delve into the rich world of American fiction in this literature chapter. Meet Ichabod Crane, Huck Finn and Willy Loman as you explore the characters and stories of some of America's most beloved literature.

American Literature: Examples & Analysis - Chapter Summary

American history is rich with great novels and poetry. In this chapter, you will be introduced to great American authors and their works. Explore colonial America through the works of Washington Irving, experience life on the Mississippi with Mark Twain and witness the Harlem Renaissance through the writings of Langston Hughes. Our world-class instructors will also explore the characters, the story and the key literary elements in the following works:

  • The poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Poe's The Raven and The Cask of Amontillado
  • Moby Dick
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The poetry of Emily Dickinson
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Of Mice and Men
  • Death of a Salesman

The brief, engaging videos in these lessons will provide insight into these great works of literature in a way that makes learning fun and effective. Work at your own pace and review as often as you like. If you have any questions along the way, we have literary experts waiting to help. Take the optional quiz at the end of each lesson to prove your understanding of the work before going on to the next. When you have completed this chapter, you will have analyzed some of the greatest works in American literature!

15 Lessons in Chapter 9: American Literature: Examples & Analysis
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Summary and Analysis

1. Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: Summary and Analysis

Everyone loves a scary story now and then. Learn how Washington Irving's famous story, ''The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,'' uses imagination and the supernatural to make it a Romantic piece of American literature that is still adapted by television today.

Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle: Summary and Analysis

2. Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle: Summary and Analysis

The story of 'Rip Van Winkle' is one of enchantments and escape. In this lesson, we look at how Washington Irving uses his words and Romantic characteristics to create the story's theme.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poem Analysis

3. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poem Analysis

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was known as a fireside poet because his poems were read by the fire as a means of entertainment. Learn about how he created American history through the use of musical elements, like rhythm and rhyme scheme.

Poe's The Cask of Amontillado: Summary and Analysis

4. Poe's The Cask of Amontillado: Summary and Analysis

This video explores Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Cask of Amontillado,' a Dark Romantic short story that illustrates the horrors of evil. By breaking down the elements of plot, we can see that Poe's intentional selection of details in the story create his 'unity of effect.'

Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Summary and Analysis

5. Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Summary and Analysis

''Moby Dick'' is not just a boring story about a whale. Its popularity is still strong today (guess what major coffee chain takes its name from the story) thanks to Herman Melville's raunchy jokes about sperm whales. Oh, the fact it's a great story about evil and revenge doesn't hurt either.

The Scarlet Letter: Summary and Analysis of an Allegory

6. The Scarlet Letter: Summary and Analysis of an Allegory

See how Nathaniel Hawthorne uses allegory and symbolism to illustrate the affair and resulting guilt between a minister and a Puritan woman in his novel 'The Scarlet Letter.'

Emily Dickinson: Poems and Poetry Analysis

7. 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.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes and Analysis

8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Themes and Analysis

In this lesson, we will continue our exploration of Mark Twain's most acclaimed work, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, through an analysis of plot, characters, and theme.

Uncle Tom's Cabin and the American Civil War

9. 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.

The Great Gatsby: Summary, Themes, Symbols, and Character

10. The Great Gatsby: Summary, Themes, Symbols, and Character

F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' is considered by many critics to be the greatest American novel. Watch our video lesson on the novel to find out why!

Of Mice and Men: Summary and Analysis of Steinbeck's Style

11. Of Mice and Men: Summary and Analysis of Steinbeck's Style

John Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men' is one of the most enduring American stories of friendship. Watch this video lesson to learn about its characters, main plot events and key themes.

Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age

12. Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance: Poems of the Jazz Age

Langston Hughes was a popular poet from the Harlem Renaissance. His Jazz Age poems, including 'Harlem' and 'I, Too, Sing America,' discussed the racism facing African Americans in the 1920s and '30s.

Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and Analysis

13. Miller's Death of a Salesman: Summary and Analysis

In 'Death of a Salesman,' Willy Loman just can't catch a break. And if the title is an indicator, things won't end well. In this lesson, we'll look at Arthur Miller's 1949 masterpiece about a salesman and his family.

Black Beauty: Summary, Main Characters & Author

14. Black Beauty: Summary, Main Characters & Author

'Black Beauty,' the fictional 'autobiography' of a talking horse, was published in 1877 and remains a favorite children's book to this day. In this lesson, you'll learn about the book's plot and major events, get to know some of the main characters and test your knowledge with a quiz.

T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men: Summary & Analysis

15. T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men: Summary & Analysis

This lesson covers T.S. Eliot's 'The Hollow Men.' Read a summary and learn to analyze one of this modernist poet's most enduring pieces. Then take a quiz to test your comprehension.

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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