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 (THIS BOOK IS MANDATORY)! The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Beginnings to 1865 shorter 9th edition 

Total of two assignment, one is essay and the other long answer questions.

 Assignment #1:

Using the 2 uploaded files (207 Beginnings to 1820) and (207 Columbus Winthrop Williams Rowlandson Mather), examine and discuss how early American literature reflects the actual, conflicted, hybrid character of what “Americanness” is—keeping in mind not only issues of race and culture, but of religion, politics, and other ideologies as well. 


Length: 3-5 full pages, MLA format

This is what individual anthology entries on your Works Cited page (completely separate page, with MLA-style pagination at top right) should look like: (the formula, then examples)

Last Name of Author, First and (if any) Middle Name of Author. Title of Work within

the Anthology (in quotation marks if a short story or a poem, underlined or 

italicized if a play). The Full Name of the Anthology (underlined or italicized) 

followed by the edition. Translator (Trans., only if the original work was not 

written in English; first name first; if more than one, alphabetical by last name). 

Editor (Ed., first name first; if more than one, alphabetical by last name). City 

of Publication: Publishing Company, Latest Copyright Date. Pages that the 

work occupies within the anthology (numbers only). 

(Notice how the entries are listed alphabetically according to the author's last name, and how they are reverse indented; that is, indented the opposite of how you indent a paragraph, with only the first line NOT indented.)

Works Cited

Sophocles. Oedipus the King. Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction,

Poetry, Drama, and Writing 5thed. Trans. Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. Ed. 

Dana Gioia and X.J. Kennedy. Boston: Pearson, 2016. 690-732. 

Assignment #2:

Answer the 10 question uploaded with full details. 

AMERICAN LITERATURE 1: Beginnings to 1820


· 1450: Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press begins operation.

· 1492: Christopher Columbus sales from Spain and arrives in the “New World,” at San Salvador in the Bahamas.

· 1501: The Spanish introduce African slaves into the New World, at Hispaniola in the Caribbean (mostly to replace the decimated population of Native American slaves).

· 1620: William Bradford and the Pilgrims, having arrived on the Mayflower, establish Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.

· 1630: Puritans under John Winthrop arrive at Massachusetts Bay. Winthrop addresses the Puritan immigrants aboard the Arbella, saying that they (and the colony) would be an example to the world, a “city upon a hill.”

· 1728: Cotton Mather dies, symbolically marking the passing of Puritanism as the colonists had experienced it.

· pretty much all of the 18th century (the 1700s): THE ENLIGHTENMENT—a general intellectual and philosophical move away from the primacy of religion in determining law, politics, and moral rectitude toward a more rational, sentimental, and secular focus; DEISM; a move toward “modernity” as we know it

· 1730s: Jonathan Edwards becomes a leading figure in the so-called “Great Awakening”—a conservative, Calvinistic, Puritan backlash against Enlightenment principles.

· 1763: The Boston Tea Party—in response to the Stamp Act of 1764 (exorbitantly taxing all colonial newspapers, legal documents, and licenses)

· July 4, 1776: The Declaration of Independence

· 1798-1799: Charles Brockden Brown essentially defines the “American Gothic” (adopting the European Gothic mode to the American landscape) with 4 quickly written novels—Wieland, Ormond, Arthur Mervyn, and Edgar Huntly.


· From the beginning, “discovery” was not limited to the perspective of the Europeans. The beginnings and developments of what would become the American identity, then, were chiefly an intermixture of Native, European, and African cultures. From the very beginning, it was a hybrid identity.

· The European advantage: steel, gunpowder, and microbes (a result of two independent ecosystems—smallpox, measles, typhus, among other diseases)

· Unanimous solidarity among Native Americans against the encroaching Europeans was not always the case—taking advantage of their technology and methods against rival tribes or other personal agendas (the fall of Aztec emperor Montezuma and the Pequot War of 1637, for example, with the Narragansetts and the Mohegans having aligned themselves with the English against the fierce Pequots).

· European atrocities were most often committed as a result of blundering and miscommunication, from the split between policy and action. Communications technology of that time had a lot to do with it; it would often take weeks and even months for communications to be transmitted between continents.

· The decades-recent invention and implementation of Gutenberg’s printing press most certainly had a hand in disseminating interest, documentation, and opinion concerning New World expeditions, thus directly feeding the machine of European expansion into America.

· European opinion in the New World was not unanimous either; there was guilt, protest, disaffection, riots, and mutinies—from moral conflicts, conflicts of interest, and frustration with the aforementioned communications bureaucracy. In this lack of unanimity, of course, lies the seeds of the American Revolution.

· The roots of the often-observed “Puritan” American character (more cultural than actually religious) and choice of metaphors are typically traced back to the establishment of the Pilgrim and Puritan colonies.


Christopher Columbus

· 1451-1506

· born in Genoa, Italy

· developed a plan to find a commercially viable Atlantic route to Asia; won the support of the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1492

· 4 voyages between 1492 and 1504: “discovery” of the “New World” (the West Indies, Central America, South America) at San Salvador; actually not the first, but established the first LASTING European contact with the Americas

· The voyages started off great, but degenerated into frustration, a strained relationship with the Spanish crown, and even arrest (actually brought back to Spain in chains in 1500).

· The initially friendly relationship between the Taino Indians in Hispaniola went sour as the settlers Columbus left behind demanded gold and sexual partners. When Columbus returned in 1494 (2nd voyage), none of the Europeans were alive.

· 3rd voyage: He returns to Spanish settlers in open rebellion against him in 1498. A truce was reached at the expense of the to-be-enslaved Taino Indians.

· 4th voyage: 1502; experienced virtual breakdown; eventually rescued and brought back, but died shortly after

John Winthrop

· 1588-1649

· born in Groton, England

· Puritan lawyer and leader who helped found the Massachusetts Bay Colony; chosen governor in 1629

· gave the sermon “A Model of Christian Charity” aboard the Arbella; lays out the ideals of harmonious Christian community while also reminding his fellow Puritan emigrants that they would stand as an example to the world (“a city upon a hill”); considered a seminal document of AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM

· unlike William Bradford and the Pilgrims, not a Separatist; wanted to reform the Church of England from within (particularly of Catholic influences begun wholesale by the ascension to the throne of Charles I)

Roger Williams

· c. 1603-1683

· born in London, England

· banished from the Massachusetts colony by Puritan leaders for “spreading dangerous ideas,” but left for Rhode Island before officials could seize him in Salem to ship him back to England

· would become the founder of Providence Plantation (the future capital of the state), which would act as a welcoming colony of religious liberty for religious refugees; the first of its kind: a colony whose very royal charter guaranteed “freedom of conscience”—foundationally “American” idea, to even later be included in the 1791 Bill of Rights

· befriended and sheltered with the Narragansett Indians in Rhode Island

· WHAT GOT HIM IN TROUBLE IN MASSACHUSETTS: undermined the theocracy’s authority, disputed the legitimacy of the land title (belongs to the Natives), said that any “unregenerate” (non-Puritan) person wasn’t required to attend church or take the oath in a court of law, and proposed a wall of SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE

· was himself similar to a “Seeker”: nondenominational, akin to Quakerism, believing that the will of God is obscure and that no church has any authority because there is simply no human way to truly know (awaiting revelation from God himself)

· respected and humanized the Indians, even in his wish to convert them (not “heathens” or “barbarians”); however, was deeply disappointed over the Narragansetts’ ultimate decision to stray from peace and join in King Philip’s War (burning white settlements in Rhode Island)

· was also an early abolitionist

Mary Rowlandson’s A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson

· c. 1637-1711

· born in Somersetshire, England

· a colonial American woman who was captured and held for 11 weeks (a little over 2 months; Feb. – May of 1676; Lancaster, Massachusetts) before being ransomed by Native Americans during King Philip’s War; arguably the most famous victim of the war

· King Philip’s War: (June 1675 – August 1676)

“King Philip”: Metacomet, Wampanoag chief, second son of Massasoit (who had helped the Pilgrims!); led a year-long series of attacks on English colonial settlements across New England

Direct cause: the execution in Plymouth, Massachusetts, of 3 of Philip’s Wampanoag tribesmen

Indirect causes: Native American starvation and desperation to retain their lands; a last-ditch effort by the Wampanoags and their allies to halt further expansion by the colonists

Result: Philip slain; his wife and children sold into slavery in the West Indies; the end of independent American Indian power in New England; over 1200 colonial houses burned; about 600 English colonials dead; about 300 American Indians dead

· the wife of a Lancaster minister, Joseph Rowlandson

· Her narrative is considered a seminal example of the American genre of “Indian captivities,” or, more generally, “captivity narratives”—influential through fictionalization by the likes of James Fenimore Cooper and William Faulkner.


1. Through the example of Mary Rowlandson’s work, what appear to be some consistent themes and subjects of American “Indian captivity” narratives? (THIS IS NOT A QUESTION, BUT A NOTE)

· the spiritual, moral, and HUMAN superiority of the captive (vs. the captor)

· the consolation and strength of the Christian religion and identity within captivity; mixed blessing from God to be more appreciative

· the power of PATHOS and SENTIMENT (the sentimental; sentimentality)—death of wounded 6-year-old daughter

· HOME and HOMECOMING as religious metaphor

2. Though Rowlandson is being truthful about the brutal actions of the Native Americans involved in King Philip’s War, what facts are clearly being left out (either deliberately or out of ignorance)?

(See all of the introductory notes above, at the beginning of this handout.)

Cotton Mather

· 1663-1728

· born in Boston, Massachusetts; the son of Increase Mather; attended Harvard College

· the heir apparent to the Congregational hierarchy that had dominated the churches of New England for almost 50 years

· lots of tragedy and disappointment in his life: first 2 wives died, watched 3rd go insane, only 2 of his 15 children lived until his death; rejected for presidency of Harvard (father was president of Harvard)

· has come to represent the worst in Puritan culture given his own historical accounts; often blamed for the Salem witch trials (though he never attended any of them)

· THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS: (Feb. 1692 – May 1693)

1. from a wave of religious hysteria (from fear/demonization of Indians and resulting widespread belief in witchcraft as the Devil’s means of thwarting the Puritan communal project)

2. resulted in the deaths of 20 innocent people (mostly by hanging, but also from death in prison); 2 most often mentioned/best known—Martha Carrier and Tituba

The Wonders of the Invisible World:

· 1692-1693

· Notice the demonization of the Indians and aligning them with the Devil to promote Puritan (American) exceptionalism; the Devil trying to thwart Puritanism: “the devil’s territories,” “the heathen”

· the discovery of witchcraft

· apocalyptic; the Devil’s apparent subtlety in probably making even the INNOCENT confess

· wasn’t actually present; “not as an advocate, but as an historian”

· the community’s turning on Martha Carrier (even her own children)

· “This rampant hag, Martha Carrier”; how the Devil had promised her to be “Queen of the Hebrews”


1. How does de Crevecoeur characterize the American frontier as dark and unsettling?

2. According to de Crevecoeur, what is fundamentally un-American (even anti-American) about slavery?

3. Compare/contrast the grievances against England mentioned by Paine in COMMON SENSE and by Jefferson in his original draft of the Declaration of Independence.

4. What are the 2 main reasons for the edits made to Jefferson's original draft?

5. One of the most surprising features of the beginning of Equiano’s narrative is his frank discussion of how slavery actually existed within Africa among different tribes. However, he draws a very clear distinction between West African slavery and American slavery. Explain.

6. What is the main reason for Equiano’s ultimate decision to never set foot in America again once he purchases his freedom?

7. Explain the heavy irony that Wheatley creates in her “To the Right Honourable William, Earl of Dartmouth” poem when discussing America’s “slavery” to English tyranny.

8. “On Being Brought from Africa to America” is illustrative of an enduring controversy within the African-American literary tradition: the Christian religion. Explain.

9. Compare the issues on colonial diplomacy and Native American relations as discussed among Canessatego, Pontiac, Logan, and Tecumseh.

10. Explain the Cherokee women’s position as a special case.


An Introduction to A F R O F U T U R I S M

As a definitive genre and field of study, Afrofuturism, which focuses on works of science fiction written by authors of the African diaspora, is fairly new.

· coined by cultural critic Mark Dery in his 1994 essay “Black to the Future,” from the collection Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture:

“Why do so few African Americans write science fiction, a genre whose close encounters with the Other—the stranger in a strange land—would seem uniquely suited to the concerns of African-American novelists? […] This is especially perplexing in light of the fact that African Americans, in a very real sense, are the descendants of alien abductees; they inhabit a sci-fi nightmare in which unseen but no less impassible force fields of intolerance frustrate their movements; official histories undo what has been done; and technology is too often brought to bear on black bodies.” (179-180)

“Speculative fiction that treats African-American themes and addresses African-American concerns in the context of twentieth-century technoculture—and, more generally, African-American signification that appropriates images of technology and a prosthetically enhanced future—might, for want of a better term, be called ‘Afrofuturism.’” (180)

· In the same collection, African-American writer, musician, and producer Greg Tate:

“Well, if you look at the black writing that’s been done in this century [the twentieth], from Richard Wright on, there’s always been huge dollops of fantasy, horror, and science fiction in it. There are science fiction sequences in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, for example.” (207)

Tate also points out the inherently sci-fi aesthetic of even the earliest hip hop (210)—how “SF [science fiction], like hip-hop, is a very sociohistorical genre.” (211)

“Science fiction eschews the psychological dimension in terms of character portrayal for a more all-encompassing look at the impact of the various institutions that govern behavior and the transmission of knowledge. And in the same way that SF focuses on the impact of information technologies on the psychology of a society, black literature moves the silence and intellectual marginalization of blacks to the foreground. Both represent an attempt to view everything through a single lens, so that we can see the specter haunting society that society doesn’t want to acknowledge.” (211)

“that the condition of alienation that comes from being a black subject in American society parallels the kind of alienation that science fiction writers try to explore through various genre devices—transporting someone from the past into the future, thrusting someone into an alien culture, on another planet, where he has to confront alien ways of being. All of these devices reiterate the condition of being black in American culture. Black people live the estrangement that science fiction writers imagine.” (211-212)

· also worth checking out: author and filmmaker Ytasha Womack’s Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture

Themes of Science Fiction as a Speculative Fiction (Applicable to and Typical of Afrofuturism)

1. advanced technology; technological innovation (including artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and cyborgs)

2. mad science

3. utopias and/or dystopias

4. panoptic surveillance; conspiracies

5. apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic

6. alien invasion; alien abduction; alien encounters in general

7. alternate worlds; alternate universes; alternate histories

8. retro-futurism (“futuristic” from the standpoint of the past—like what so-called “steampunk” does with the Victorian era)

9. space travel

10. intergalactic warfare

11. time travel

12. overlap with other forms of speculative fiction (fiction that deals with supernatural and/or the future; “speculative” = “What if…?”), especially fantasy and horror (Think of how one of the earliest and most archetypal works of horror literature, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, is both horror and science fiction.)

The usefulness and significance of these themes comes through their use as METAPHORS—usually pointing towards some sort of historical, cultural, and/or social commentary.

Texts that I required for my English 400 course:

Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (edited by Sheree R. Thomas)

Black No More (George S. Schuyler)

Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison)

Kindred (Octavia Butler)

The Intuitionist (Colson Whitehead)

Further Reading Recommendations:

· Of One Blood by Pauline Hopkins (1903; Telassar = Wakanda before Wakanda)

· I say this without the least bit of exaggeration: EVERYTHING ever written by Octavia Butler. Seriously, all of it.

· Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy and Who Fears Death

· Steven Barnes’ Lion’s Blood and Zulu Heart

· N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ’Til Black Future Month? and Broken Earth trilogy

· Colson Whitehead’s Zone One and The Underground Railroad

· Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring

· Kodwo Eshun’s More Brilliant Than the Sun (musical criticism/theory)

· Rivers Solomon’s An Unkindness of Ghosts

Short stories that can be found online as fair use:

1. W.E.B. Du Bois’ “The Comet”

2. Derrick Bell’s “The Space Traders”

3. Henry Dumas’ “Ark of Bones” and “Fon”

Afrofuturism in music:

Sun Ra

Jimi Hendrix (especially “Third Stone from the Sun”)

Parliament/Funkadelic/George Clinton/The P-Funk All-Stars

early- and mid-1980s hip hop (think Afrika Bambaataa and early breakdancing music)

1990s hip hop and r&b videos for artists such as Tupac Shakur, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, and

Busta Rhymes (especially with Janet Jackson)

Outkast (ATLiens, “Synthesizer,” Big Boi’s portion of the “B.O.B.” music video)

Janelle Monae (the music video for “Dance Apocalyptic,” Dirty Computer mini-movie…)

Yugen Blakrok (the Return of the Astro-Goth album; especially check out the official music video for “House of Ravens,” which combines the aesthetics of both science fiction and the Gothic)

the Black Panther soundtrack (especially the track “Opps”)

Animals as Leaders (especially the first album, and especially the track “CAFO” and its official music video)

Afrofuturism in cinema:

Let’s face it: recent increased attention to Afrofuturism owes an awful lot to the recent Marvel film Black Panther. Also, both of Jordan Peele’s recent horror films, Get Out and Us, both contain elements of science fiction as well.


SAMSON’S OCCOM’s “A Short Narrative of My Life”:

· 1723-1792; a Mohegan Indian

· converted to Christianity at age 16; became a pupil of the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock; was later an ordained Presbyterian himself

· betrayed by Wheelock while in England with the Reverend Nathaniel Whitaker to raise funds for an Indian charity school; did not take care of Occom’s family while he was away as he had promised (came back to a sickly and impoverished family); Wheelock, in fact, was planning to use the money to move the present school to a more advantageous location, ultimately making it completely non-Native (present-day Dartmouth College)

· wrote “A Short Narrative of My Life” to justify himself as an “Indian preacher,” out of his new sense of disappointment and alienation (YES, ACTUALLY WROTE IT HIMSELF!); written in 1768, but not published until 1982!

· urged neutrality for the Indians at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War

· Notice his troubles in seeking education: eye strain and weakness from so much (4 years with Wheelock); frustrations with teaching Indian children


Benjamin Franklin

· 1706-1790

· born in Boston, Massachusetts

· scientist, journalist, printer, diplomat, Founding Father

“The Way to Wealth”:

· written for the 25th anniversary of Poor Richard’s Almanac, in 1758

· persona: Richard Saunders, “Father Abraham”

· a summary of Franklin’s best, pithy aphorisms (industriousness, frugality, sensibility, discipline, self-reliance, self-sufficiency)

“The Speech of Miss Polly Baker”:

· feminist; demanding equal responsibility on the part of women AND men in the case of having children out of wedlock (243)

· Franklin’s own son William was illegitimate, but welcomed into the household.

· separation of church and state; anti-abortion (243)

“Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America”:

· pointing out the term “savages”; CULTURAL RELATIVISM

· the hypocrisy of the Swedish minister (creation myths)

· hospitality vs. cheating white traders (“to hear and learn good things”)