Colonial Literature : Native American and Puritan 1620-1776 Colonialism The control of one nation by “transplanted” people of another nation — often a geographically distant nation that has a different culture and dominant racial or ethnic group. Colonial Literature 1620-1776 American writing began with the work of English adventurers and colonists in the New World chiefly for the benefit of readers in the mother country. From the beginning, however, the literature of New England was directed to the instruction of the colonists themselves. Colonial Literature Consisted of pamphlets and writings, poetry, sermons diaries and histories. Honored the benefits of European and colonist audiences • Religious Disputes: – John Winthrop discussed the religious foundations of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. – Roger Williams and Nathaniel Ward argued state and church separation. • Poetry – Anne Bradstreet is considered to be the first American Poet. – Edward Taylor was a Puritan poet and minister who was one of the finest literary artists of colonial America. – Later writings described conflicts and interaction with the Indians The four groups that founded American Literature….. • Native Americans = oral traditions • Puritans = sin and salvation (religious) • African Americans = narrative writings • Southern Planters = social writing Native American Literature • Mainly viewed as folklore (myth and legends) • Native American literature mainly focuses on song lyrics, hero tales, migration legends, and myths of creation. • In oral tradition, the telling of a tale may change with each speaker, and the words are almost sure to change over time. • Thus, no fixed versions of such literary works exist. • One common characteristic of their work is a respect for nature. Types of Native American Literature Myth – a fictional tale that explains the actions of gods or heroes or the causes of natural phenomena Legend – a traditional story that usually deals with a particular person---hero or national hero. Puritan Content *errand into the wilderness *be a city upon a hill (a phrase from the parable of Salt and Light in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:14, he tells his listeners, "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden." ) *Christian utopia (ideally perfect state; especially in its social and political and moral aspects ) The Puritans The early religion of the colonies was one based primarily on Puritan belief. The Puritans were a fundamentalist group who felt that the church had become corrupt and that it was the scriptures not one’s appearance that were important to the religion. Finding no tolerance for their views in Europe they chose to risk their fates in the colonies where they could institute the biblical paradise that they believed in so strongly. Among these early Puritans were the fabled pilgrims who founded Plymouth colony and countless others that followed. The Puritans Cont’d The Puritan belief system was a harsh one which felt that all men were fundamentally evil because Adam, in his original sin, had broken his covenant to God. However, they also believed that a certain select group were descendents of Abraham and thus were eligible for a second covenant that allowed them to receive God’s mercy. Although the Puritans believed in the fundamental equality of man, a spiritual upper class consisting of ministers and patriarchs was created and ruled their makeshift divine kingdom with fervor. Puritan Poetry Puritan poetry was offered uniformly to the service of God. Puritan Poets Anne Bradstreet's poems were reflective of her own piety. Bradstreet always viewed her life within a spiritual context: every event no matter how trivial, bore a divine message; every misfortune served to remind her of God’s will and the path of salvation. Edward Taylor, whose work was not published until two centuries after his death Edward Taylor He was very, very pious. But his piety was sincere. It was fed by a long continuous spiritual experience arising, so he felt, from a mystical communion with Christ. The reality and depth of this experience is amply witnessed by his poetry."
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