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American Literature -18th century, Definition

Grade 11
May 11, 2023

Session name: Reading – American literature -18th century

Timeline of American history in the 18th century.
The 18th CenturyThe 18th century was a period of revolutions and wars in America. America declared independence from colonial rule during this century. Much of the literature revolves around the independence struggles, and motivational and inspirational speeches and pamphlets were very popular.
Literature of the 18th CenturyFew “novels” in the modern sense of the word were published and widely distributed in American society before the 19th century. In the later part of the 18th century, authors started to publish more works that resembled novels. Writings like essays, magazines, newspapers, memoirs, and diary-like accounts were more prevalent before the novel became well-known.
Major ThemesThe Puritan and Great Awakening movements identified this period as having religious significance, and a large portion of the literature that goes along with it discusses religious customs and values. The Enlightenment movement of the 18th century came after a religiously dominated 17th century, and it was at this time that authors published works of reason, logic, and challenge to conventional wisdom.
Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin was an American polymath who was active as a writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and political philosopher. He was one of the founding fathers of the United States. He wrote a variety of articles, pamphlets, and reports about the disagreement with Great Britain; many of them were incredibly effective in articulating and defining the colonists’ case because of his self-attained culture, which was broad and deep.
Thomas PaineThomas Paine was a well-known essayist and pamphleteer in the 18th century. He wrote a series of pamphlets called ‘The American Crisis’ published between December 1776 and December 1783. The most popular of these essays was one titled “Common Sense.” It was written to convince the colonist that their government had done them wrong and that they should gain their independence from Britain.
America as an Independent NationThomas Jefferson and the skilled authors of the Federalist Papers, a collection of 85 essays that argued in favor of the proposed new constitution and were published in 1787 and 1788, were the writers who rose to prominence in the new era. John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton contributed to their creation. These essays constituted a classic expression of American governmental, and more broadly of republican, doctrine. However, they were recognized more for their insight into government issues and calm reasoning than for eloquence.
Important Literary Works (Poetry)During the American Revolution, verse and songs like “Yankee Doodle,” “Nathan Hale,” and “The Epilogue,” most of which were set to well-known British melodies and were written in style reminiscent of other British poems of the time, were used by both loyalists and Continentals to rally their troops, make their points, and honor their heroes. The most famous American poet of the time was Philip Freneau, whose Revolutionary War satires were among his earliest well-known poems.
Important Literary Works (Drama and Novels)Dramas and novels with significant historical importance were created in the years leading up to the end of the 18th century. Even though American theatre companies had long been functioning, Royall Tyler’s Contrast was the country’s first professionally produced comedy (1787). The Power of Sympathy by William Hill Brown, the first novel to be published in the United States, was written in 1789 and demonstrated to writers how to shatter long-standing misconceptions about this genre by adopting Samuel Richardson’s invention of the emotional novel.
American Literature


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