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Ch 27: American Literature

About This Chapter

Let our online video lessons introduce you to the major periods and authors of American literature. Learn how to identify and work with the materials you need to be an effective English teacher for students in grades 6-12.

American Literature - Chapter Summary

This chapter is designed to help you identify the major periods of American literature, including key authors and works that are representative of our diverse culture. It begins with an overview of young adult literature and how it contributes to the academic, personal and social development of students. In addition, you will also find out how culture, history, region and society can influence language. Additional topics include the heritage and literature associated with the Native American oral tradition, as well as major works of world literature.

If you are an educator, this chapter can help you identify and implement effective materials and techniques for teaching literature. It can also help you recognize and use appropriate means for assessing your students' understanding of literary materials. When you finish this chapter, you will be familiar with some of the following periods and personalities:

  • The Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison)
  • 19th-century Romantic Period (James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
  • 19th-century Transcendentalism (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman)
  • The Dark Romantics (Edgar Allen Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • The Lost Generation - expatriate writers of the 20th century
  • Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s (novels and poetry of the Jazz Age, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Thurston)
  • The Beat Generation of the 1950s
  • Contemporary American literature (Arthur Miller, J.D. Salinger and Tennessee Williams)

Our experienced and engaging instructors provide students with an efficient and engaging way to learn about American literature. In addition to the video presentations, you'll also have access to lesson transcripts and online self-assessments. Key features include video tags that allow you to revisit points of interest without having to re-watch the entire lesson.

12 Lessons in Chapter 27: American Literature
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Young Adult Literature: Major Works & Their Cultural Impact

1. Young Adult Literature: Major Works & Their Cultural Impact

Young adult literature is designed to appeal to young readers. This lesson will discuss some major works of young adult literature along with their cultural impact. We will end with a brief quiz to see what you have learned.

The Romantic Period in American Literature and Art

2. The Romantic Period in American Literature and Art

This video introduces American Romanticism, a movement where literature focused on intuition, imagination and individualism. Authors such as Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow contributed to what became known as the American identity, as the new country did its best to distance itself from European tradition.

The Literary Realism Movement: A Response to Romanticism

3. 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.

Transcendentalism: Impact on American Literature

4. 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.

The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age

5. The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age

The Harlem Renaissance was a movement in the 1920s and 1930s during which there was an explosion of African-American art and literature. This lesson looks at the themes, causes, and important figures of the Harlem Renaissance.

Modernism in American Literature

6. Modernism in American Literature

In this lesson, we will discuss the concept of literary modernism in the United States. We will explore its historical backdrop along with the very unique characteristics and authors that define American modernism which lasted from 1914-1945.

The Lost Generation: Expatriate Writers of the 20th Century

7. The Lost Generation: Expatriate Writers of the 20th Century

In this lesson, we will explore the effects of WWI on the American literary community. We will take a look at the Lost Generation of writers, the characteristics of their work and the ways in which they represented post-war attitudes both in the U.S. and abroad.

Contemporary American Literature: Authors and Major Works

8. Contemporary American Literature: Authors and Major Works

This lesson helps you decipher pieces of contemporary American literature by looking at famous examples from some of the greatest authors of the time.

The Beat Generation: Characteristics of Beat Poetry

9. The Beat Generation: Characteristics of Beat Poetry

It's a movement that began with a howl, and it had a major impact on both poetry and culture in America. In this lesson, we'll cover the Beat Generation and review the defining characteristics of their style.

The Dark Romantics in American Literature

10. The Dark Romantics in American Literature

This video introduces the characteristics of Dark Romanticism, a movement at the end of the Romantic period where literature embodied creepy symbols, horrific themes, and explored the psychological effects of guilt and sin. Authors, such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote short stories, poems, and novels that encouraged Americans to see evil in everything.

The Federalist Papers: History, Writers & Summary

11. The Federalist Papers: History, Writers & Summary

The Federalist Papers were a collection of political essays from the 18th century written by several Founding Fathers of the United States. In this lesson, we'll learn more about the Federalist Papers and why they are still important today.

Native American Oral Tradition: Heritage and Literary Influence

12. Native American Oral Tradition: Heritage and Literary Influence

Native American nations have a rich oral tradition of storytelling. In this lesson, we'll explore the heritage and themes of American Indian stories and look at how they influenced later American literature.

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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