02 Nov 2009

Sample Essay: What Is American Literature

The suitable orientation of the American literature has close ties to what is commonly believed to be a constituent of the identity of the Native American.


This paper focuses on the concept of American literature. It addresses the creation of the conceptions of the American experience and identity. It also looks into the distinctive voices and styles in American literature. Also of importance is the social and political issues influence the American canon. The issue of place and time in shaping the authors’ works and our understanding of them is also an important part of this paper. The characteristics of a literary work that have made it influential over time and the creation , challenging, and re-imagination through this literature of American myths are other important issues in this paper. The suitable orientation of the American literature has close ties to what is commonly believed to be a constituent of the identity of the Native American.

American literature bears reference to the written as well as the literary work that has been produced in the context of United States area as well as the colonial America. The early history of America is associated with British colonies in series in the current day United States eastern coast. It therefore implies that the literary tradition of the United States has its origin to the traditions in a broader sense of the English literature. This is according to the assertion of Thomas Jefferson (96), It is however agreeable that the unique characteristics of the Americans and its broader production are currently the reason as to why it is taken to be a separate path as well as a tradition.

How do place and time shape the authors’ works and our understanding of them?

The Native Americans are associated with a tendency for the creation of highly rich tradition that is developed in the field of America oral tradition.  In connection to this, there are three conspicuous views that are attached to this debate that is highly contested. These views include the legal bloodlines, the cultural traditions as well as the bicultural production. This leads to the conclusion that the American literature in the context of the natives includes the written works written by a person who is a native of America in a legal sense with no significant consideration of their style as well as content. There also exists another perspective dealing with linking the identity of the Native Americans as well as their traditions to the act of preservation of the cultural traditions.

This view is associated with the aspects of the traditional form of Indian culture in the context of the contemporary Indian culture in America of the like of continuance oral tradition (Dickinson 113-46). There also exists another trend in the studies of the Native Americans responsible with the definition of the identity of the American Indian as well as the literature based on the bicultural mixture with regard to the Native together with the people of the European American and their traditions. It is as per the arguments of the majority of the Native Americans that due to the assimilation of their of the aspects of their inherent indigenous cultures with the rest of the cultures, the fact that one is an Indian have a reflection of being bicultural or even multicultural lays emphasis on the relationship of the female power to the culture of the Native American (Douglass 2).

Majority of the American Indians do not perceive of themselves as being Native Americans. They consider themselves as being members of a group that is specific in nature. It is however according to the suggestion of majority of the scholars that the Native communities in America hailing from a specific region have a tendency of becoming more homologous in a cultural context, situation that is imputed to the fact that they originate from the same family of language. This is further supported by the fact that there is a tendency of shaping the cultures with the influence of the landscape from which the cultures emerge. In the study of the Native Americans therefore, there exists a number of key regions namely; the Southwest, the Plains, California, the Midwest, the Northeast, the Northwest, the South, as well as the Southwest (Columbus 266).The central focus of the video is the Southwest and all the other information as concerns the rest of the regions are available in the unit. There is also a balance between the information with a degree of specificity as far as the tribe of the writers as well as the information pertaining to their qualities shared within the American Indians is concerned.

The end of the 1812 war coupled with an escalating desire for the production of American literature of its unique nature as well as a culture led to the emergency of some literary figures of key importance. The role of the new writers was the production of the American style that was unique in a way. The early romantic as well as nature-inspired poetry whose evolution was of European origin was evident. The new works of the writers led to the exploration of the human psychology levels that were previously hidden and were also responsible for the extension of the fiction boundaries to the side of mystery as well as fantasy (Tapahonso 213-56).

There is an existing variation in oral tradition based on the tribe as well as the region and it has been the duty of the scholars to scrutinize the influence caused by the oral traditions of the American Indians on the contemporary nature of the literature of the American Indian that is presented in two distinctive ways namely the content and the style. In the instance that there is an exploration of the oral tradition of the American Indian and its influence on the contemporary literature, major emphasis is put in the songs as well as stories of the people of the American Indian origin. The major focus of the stories is some particular characters and the inclusion of the some elements as well as some standard events. The most conspicuous stories include the gambler, the trickster, the creation, the abduction, as well as the legends of migration. These types of tales are at the disposal of the contemporary authors for application in the cause of their duty (Jacobs 7).

In addition to the consideration of the story’ content, the scholars have always considered the contemporary literature of the American Indian for the purpose of the examination of the influence brought about by oral tradition. Empathetic nature, capacity for participatory, the situational, as well as reliant on potential for repetition has been a distinguished characteristic of the oral style. This is due to the importance attached to the action of repetition in the field of oral literature. This is applicable in the process of ceremonial reasons in addition to its function during memorization and the provision of the narrative cohesion .The process of repeating words is tantamount to the repetition of specific power. The most important issue is the understanding of the fact that oral tradition has close ties to land.

Works Cited

Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2005

Tapahonso, Luci. A poem by Tapahonso. New York: University of Arizona Press, 1999.

Douglass Frederick . Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845).     New York: International Publishers, 1950.

Dickinson, Emily. The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition. Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 1991.

Jefferson, Thomas. NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA. New York: Virginia Historical   Society, 1787.

Columbus, Christopher. Exploring Borderlands: Contact and Conflict in North America. New   York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2000.

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