109 terms

American Literature

Flash cards for Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP exam
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Literature
The umbrella term used to refer to art expressed in writing.
Genre
A category used to classify literary works, usually by form, technique or content (e.g., prose, poetry, drama).
Prose
Any writing that is not poetry
Poetry
A type of literature in which words are selected and strung together for their beauty, sound, and power.
Drama
A piece of literature intended to be performed in front of an audience.
Autobiography
A person's account of his or her own life.
Biography
A story about a person's life written by another person.
Essay
A piece of prose writing, usually short, that deals with a subject in a limited way and expresses a particular point of view.
Fable
A brief story with a moral; often uses animals that act and speak like human beings
Fiction
A prose account that is made up rather than true.
Folktale
A story originally passed from one generation to another by word of mouth only. The characters are usually all good or all bad and in the end are rewarded or punished as they deserve.
Legend
A narrative handed down from the past, containing historical elements and usually supernatural elements.
Humor
Parts of a story that are amusing. Humor can be created through sarcasm, word play, and irony.
Memoir
A first person writing about an event.
Myth
A traditional story about gods, ancestors, or heroes, told to explain the natural world or the customs and beliefs of a society.
Novel
A long fictional narrative written in prose, usually having many characters and a strong plot.
Short Story
A fictional narrative written in prose, which is shorter than a novel and usually takes place in only one setting with a few number of characters.
Tall Tale
An exaggerated legend
Ballad
A fairly short narrative poem written in a songlike stanza form
Lyric Poem
Brief, musical poems that convey the speakers feelings.
Narrative Poem
A story in poetic form with characters, plot, and theme.
Sonnet
A 14 line poem with a set rhythm and scheme.
Antagonist
A character or force in conflict with the main character
Conflict
A struggle between opposing forces. The conflict can be either internal or external.
Plot
A series of related events in a story, each connected to the next.
Point of View
the perspective from which a story is told
Protagonist
Main character in the story
Flash back
A scene that breaks into the story to show an earlier part of the action, fill in missing information, explain the characters actions, and advance the plot.
Foreshadowing
A narrative device that hints at coming events; often builds suspense or anxiety in the reader.
Iambic Pentameter
A line of poetry that contains five iambic feet.
End Rhyme
A word at the end of one line rhymes with a word at the end of another line
Internal Rhyme
A word inside a line rhymes with another word on the same line
Blank Verse
Poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.
Foot
A group of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry.
Free Verse
Poetry that does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme
Meter
The beat or rhythm of a poem, created by a patter of stressed or unstressed syllables.
Refrain
A line or set of lines repeated several times over the course of a poem.
Rhyme
Identical or very similar recurring final sounds in words usually at the end of lines of a poem.
Rhyme sceme
The pattern of rhyming sounds at the end of lines in a poem
Rhythm
A pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables that create a beat.
Scan
The process of reading a poem to figure out its meter.
Stanza
A group of lines in a poem. Lines of poems are stanzas just like sentences are paragraphs.
Verse
A single line of poetry or a stanza.
Allusion
A reference to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art
Irony
When the opposite of what is expected occurs.
Mood
The strong feeling created in a literary work.
Speaker
The personality the writer presumes when telling the story.
Style
An authors distinctive way of writing. Style includes word choice, sentence length, structure, figures of speech, and tone.
Suspense
A feeling of tension or anticipation created in a work.
Symbol
A person, place, or object that represents an abstract idea.
Theme
The works main idea- a general statement of life. Can usually be summed up in one sentence.
Tone
The writers attitude towards his or her subject matter.
Puritans
Those who wanted to purify the Anglican Church of Roman Catholicism.
Puritan Writings
Sermons, religious poems, religious tracts, interpretations of God, diaries about religious experience.
William Bradford
Signer/Writer of the Mayflower Contract and writer of History of Plymouth Plantation.
Anne Bradstreet
The first published American Poet
Edward Taylor
The finest puritan poet
Cotton Mather
A famous puritan minister and supporter of Salem witch craft trials.
John Smith
His writing helped to lay the foundation for American Literature. Without his writing much of the History of early colonial America would be lost.
Puritan Writers
Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Cotten Mather, John Smith, William Bradford
Revolutionary Writers
John Adams, Abigail Adams, J. Hecor St. Jean de Crevecoeur, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine
Puritan Writing Period
1607-1750
Revolutionary Writing Period
1750-1800
Revolutionary Writings
Public rather than private writings. Writings included letters, pamphlets, declarations, speeches, and essays.
Abigail Adams
Campaigned for women's rights and provided a fascinating look at life in the revolutionary period through her letters.
J. Hector St. Jean de Crevecoeur's
Wrote Letters From an American Farmer which helped to establish our national identity by coining the term "melting pot" and giving us the notion that there's something special about "Americans".
Ben Franklin
He became the symbol of success gained by hard work and common sense. His Autobiography and Poor Richard's Almanac portrayed American as ambitious but agreeable.
Thomas Jefferson
Considered to be the finest writer of the Revolutionary Era, as the Declaration of Independence demonstrates.
Thomas Paine
Wrote the American Crisis, which helped propel us into war, remains a model of effective propaganda. "These are times that try men's souls."
Parallel Structure
The repeated use of phrases, clauses or sentences that are in similar structure.
Loaded Words
Words that carry strong emotional overtones.
Gothic
The use of medieval, wild, or mysterious elements in literature.
Washington Irving
Called "the Father of American Literature" because he proved that memorable fiction could feature both American settings and American "types." Wrote short stories, travel books, and satires. His most famous works are the short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," "Rip Van Winkle," and "The Devil and Tom Walker." Became the first American writer to achieve an international reputation and was the central figure in the American literary scene between 1809 and 1865.
Rip Van Winkle
The man who missed his wake-up call created success from failure, becoming an American antihero.
The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow
Has terrified generations of American children.
The Devil and Tom Walker
Presents an American twist to the traditional encounter-with-the-devil folktale.
James Fenimore Cooper
America's first successful novelist. Created the first American adventure story, the first American novel of manners, and the first American novel of the sea. Raised the American frontier experience to epic proportions and helped define the American character as we know it today. His most famous character was Natty Bumppo or Deerslayer/Hawkeye, and Letaherstocking, one of the most popular characters in literature.
The Epic Mania
The notion that a poem has to be long to be good.
Didactic Heresy
The belief that a poem has to teach a lesson.
Tales of Ratiocination
What Poe called detective stories that used logic rather than humor.
Edgar Allen Poe
Had a lousy childhood, problems with substance, wrote landmark criticism and memorable poetry. Also created the modern short story, psychotic murder stories and created the detective story. He was reviled in his day but is now quite famous.
Transcendentalism
A philosophical movement that began around 1840. It stressed individualism, intuition, nature, and self-reliance.
Ralph Waldo Emmerson
The key intellectual and philosophical voice of the 19th century America. Author of "The American Scholar," and "Self-Reliance," helped establish the philosophy of individualism, an idea that is deeply embedded in our culture. Wrote "Divinity School Address." Originated the unique American voice in poetry.
Henry David Thoreau
Resisted Materialism and chose a life of simplicity, close to nature.
Walden
A guidebook for life, showing the reader how to live wisely in a world designed to make wise living impossible.
On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Has become a primer for nonviolent protest, use by Gandhi, King, Mandela, and many others.
Herman Melville
Ranked as one of America's top novelists, even though few of his contemporaries recognized his genius. Wrote the first great romances about the South Seas. Wrote some excellent short stories and poetry. He is the poster child for the misunderstood artist.
Moby Dick
Considered America's greatest prose epic. It's a top contender for the best novel as well.
Uncle Tom's Cabin
The most influential book of the 19th century. The first book to sell a million copies. One of the most effective documents in American Literature and helped fuel the Civil War.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
The most famous American woman of her day. Author of Uncle Tom'sCabin which began the civil war.
Frederick Douglass
An escaped slave who became one of the most effective orators of his day, an influential newspaper writer, a militant abolitionist, and a famous diplomat. His autobiography was an instant and enduring classic story of courage and appeared in there versions. He is one of the true heroes of America.
Walt Whitman
Created new poetic forms and subjects to fashion a distinctly American type of poetic expression. He rejected conventional themes, traditional literary references, allusions, and rhyme. He used long lines to capture the rhythms of natural speech, free verse, and vocabulary drawn from everyday speech.
Emily Dickinson
Along with Walt Whitman, she is considered one of the founders of Modern American Poetry. Her concrete imagery, forceful language, and unique style ushered in poetry as we know it today. She wrote 1,775 poems but published only seven of them during her lifetime.
Mark Twain
He is widely thought to be the greatest American humorist and one of our greatest novelists. His most famous books include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, Life on the Mississippi, ThePrince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. He used vernacular, exaggeration, and a deadpan narrator to create humor.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A mythic tale of death, rebirth, freedom, and bondage, this novel is one of America's most influential.
Vemacular
The ordinary language of people in a particular region.
Realism
A literary movement that presented the details of ordinary life in art.
Naturalism
A literary movement that traced the effects of heredity and environment on people who helpless to change their situation. Believes that the universe ins unpredictable, spontaneous, and discontinuos,. our fate is determined by our environment, heredity, and chance. Free will is an illusion. Life is a cruel joke.
Naturalists
Believed that life is determined by environment, heredity, and chance. As a result, we live by the law of the jungle.
Jack London
His most famous novel, The Call of the Wild, shows how a tame dog is forced to revert to his original primitive state. His short story "To Build a Fire" shows how life is marked by "survival of the fittest."
Frank Norris
His best novel, Mcteague, helped transform American fiction from tentative realism to in-your-face naturalism.
Theodore Dreiser
His novels where lambasted for their awkward style and overwriting, but expressed a brooding insistence on the essential tragedy of life. His An American Tragedy is a scathing portrait of the American success myth gone sour, as well as a universal story about the stresses of urbanization, modernization, and alienation.
Regional Writers
Tried to capture the essence of a particular area, or its "local color."
Bret Harte
Fashioned our impression of the Old West with such stories as "The Outcasts of Poker Flat." Inspired Joseph Stalin.
Mary Willkins Freeman
Carved out her niche with stories that hauntingly explore the lives of isolated, poor, mature New England Women.
Sarah Orne Jewwett
Immortalized rural Main. Wrote The White Heron
Kate Chopin
Made her mark with stories of the Louisiana bayou,until she blew the lid off the pot with her story of a woman's sexual coming of age in The Awakening.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Recorded her postpartum nervous breakdown in "The Yellow Wallpaper," exposing women's lot around the turn of the century.
Willa Cather
Probed life on the Nebraska prairie , winning a Pulitzer Prize for her achievements.
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