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1st inhabitants nomads, asian origins

native americans never used written words, but literature is considered mostly written. [In Arizona

people are big on Native American culture [Kiva (cave) where elderly would unite / they would stay closed for days / there

/ only nowadays

is no written record / even now tribes keep meeting like that, passing on the tradition orally]]

NatAm have started producing written literature + historians started confronting official records with

oral traditions ORAL (not diffuse, mostly Native American) + WRITTEN LITERATURE

→ maps = projections of people’s thoughts about places (particularly when they had

cartography →

never been there) they were symbolic

eu middle age world had 3 parts: EU + Africa + Asia / center: Jerusalem [3 symbol of perfection]

→ discovery that the world had 4 parts: tough cultural passage, it took time to

accept there was something else. during plagues/epidemics, people stared believing in a different/

→ →

better world legends/myths about the East Marco Polo, Il Milione

• vikings travelled to iceland, eng, canada + some historians think they've been to florida. they

weren’t (stanziale) though, more like pirates and they weren’t cartographers as they didn’t want to

control territory (and maps were useful for that)

• controversial material: 1421 china discovered am / they were so powerful they built a fleet of

100+ boats to sail out of china. they left signs in australia + there were maps of america but it’s not

sure if those were real →

• california in some maps is an island, in others a peninsula evolution

• portolans (nautical maps) show america before 1492

→ →

• 1507 Martin Waldseemüller map 1st time the name America appears on a map only

southern america was detailed / spanish and portoguese didn’t use the name america but called it

West Indies (now used for Caribbean’s Islands)

~ → hope of eu people with crisis / utopian world / mental disposition / spiritual reality

new world →

what is “literary” seen =/= idealized landscape the wonder

fr canada + northeast + midwest

spa west mississippi + south oregon + florida + south tennessee

→ spanish adventurer Cabeza de Vaca travelled from Florida

1st literature was in Spanish

to Mexico, across Texas, lived with NatAm / had an African American with him, who was a

free man 1st free african in America

→ →

eng (stuarts) colonization prospective many expedition to gather information about this new

world / captain john smith james 1 sent 2 companies of adventurers to america to found 1st

colony 1607: Jamestown, Virginia (→ most famous: Pocahontas)

1607 American literature in English

PURITAN TIMES ~1650-1750

important thinkers (eu thinking/illuminismo passed on to am)

• Eu: French Revolution 1789 / America 1776, very similar

• →

1600 literature written for pleasure/entertainment wasn’t allowed, was prohibited writers

• couldn’t invent characters, pleasure in writing wasn’t considered viable. a lot of written words

were communications between Pilgrim Fathers and EU. they wanted manpower (to help set up

civilization, naming, commercial aspect) , so tried to et people to come to Am with advertisement

phrases (“Am is the new Jerusalem”)

clash of dimension giant dimension of nature in am, continent empty and wild

• →

am “virgin land” male eu and female am

• graphic artist were recruited to go to missions to show visually what happened

• most women writers during puritan age were literate

genres: → William Bradford, recollected history of colony / magnified how


successful the mission had been + censored numerous deaths / the “visible saints”

everyone could see how successful they had been + being successful = being saint

→ writing in 1st person, no narcissistic reason as it had to document day by


day the writer’s relation to God / they had to be story of religion/moral enhancement / sons

started writing their fathers’ diaries + writing their own in parallel / could be published only id

you pur up a moral example

→ connected with autobiographies / solid expression of thinking, context always had a


connection with religion

→ fragments that resemble it when they imagine what’s behind things they were


fascinated about / real fiction was explored later, at 1st they always justified themselves: they

pretended to be writing true facts

La conquête de l’Amerique, Todorov (essay / 1984)

Colombus touches Am, doesn’t really discover it. he sailed 4 times across the Pacific Ocean but

• only on the 3rd time he made landfall. he reached Venezuela, saw 3 rivers and thought he was in

heaven → word discovery: history of america only starts when eu discover it


historians not use =/= terms:

1. invasion NatAm used word: implies =/= way of thinking

2. conquest →

3. (Emundo Ogorman) invention of america keeps together the readout of the discovery +

relates the idea of a continent with better stuff

→ at 1st EU though it was a 2nd EU (ex. New York, New England) / naming


• →

process symbolic renovation of “old” eu / adjective “new” frequent / america replicates in a

positive way everything that was negative in eu

Perché diciamo America, Todorov (essay / 1991) • epub: mandatory ref

• Amerigo Vespucci is the 1st to touch the continent (Columbus only toughed Venezuela) it’s

not historically provable/verifiable + he wasn’t a captain of any expedition, just a low class sailor.

Todorov: merit to Vespucci it was an intellectual discovery. in 1503 Vespucci writes a letter

Mondo Novos, that gets published right away, and then will get republished later on with Martin

Waldseemüller map attached. another letter of his got published, 4 Navigationes: Amerigo was

convinced he had found a new world according to Todorov it’s important that he said (with

proofs) that. back then there were objections, as Pietro Martire said in 1493 that Columbus had

found new land, but Columbus was an adversary of himself, as he started doubting he had found


• in the letters everyone said the same thing. Vespucci’s was chosen because he was a better

writer/more convincing it’s an aesthetic discovery, mode about literary style/quality then

content. →

• importance of literacy Vespucci wants to entertain people, wants info to be clear and

understandable, gives summaries of what he writes, uses elements of metacommunication (ex.

“in order for you reader to better understand,”) and diagrams. tells the reader what he’s going to

find in his letters (~ promos, trailers).

• columbus wrote for himself =/= amerigo wrote for the audience (split between the author/

narrator and the person who has seen/lived the physical experience

• selection of topics


natAm: naked / fearful / shy / no religion / natAm: uses elements of the myth of the

• •

cannibals (never witnessed it) “good wilding” (someone we can easily deal with

+ cannibals (goes

because we are superior)

into details/gore + says he has seen them)

sexuality: looked for similarities, was more sexuality: women luxurious + sexy, thinks

• • →

formative about male audience a lot of editions

were censored / explains how eu are

favorited by natAm women / uses

suspence / refers to people in his age,

even fiction writers, to keep together facts

and fiction (~ Il Milione, Marco Polo)

Colombus: man of the Middle Ages =/= Vespucci: man of the Renaissance

→ at the end of the narration uses tricks, says

he’s gonna travel and write more / doesn’t

promise truth in writing, only takes

responsibility for his narration

• in the end Todorov is critical of Vespucci, says he’s an half imagined character + real author)

PASSAGE OF INFO/KNOWLEDGE not direct, made through:

a. informants a lot of info doesn’t correspond to the reality of the culture, but are interpretations

of what the person wanted to be told (•••)

b. translators most are just adaptation

How the puritans discovered America, Bercovitch • epub: mandatory ref

transcription of a conference in Bologna / puritan legacy

realm of rhetorics a lot of linguists started to examine the words of our modern presidents’

speeches and found out a lot of them use puritan american words in moment of crisis they go

back to puritan american language

squanto effect (•••) cultural shock some puritan settlers felt upon meeting indian Squanto who

had just come back from eng and could talk english / shocking to eu because part of the myth of

the good wilding meant they weren’t smart enough to do that →

eu could only count on words to get to know something that is unknown to it voyages reports +

long lists of details become crucial

accent on sensorial experience + sense of alienation

literature of the new world literature of propaganda + seduction to make eu come

“us vs them” difference with the other + self-justification for dominium/genocidal right

us identity/culture come from the most part from puritan colonies in new england sermons /

orations / essays / diaries / memoirs / stories / almanacs / poetries / biographies / autobiographies

puritans wanted to come back to a pure, calvinistic religious community (after separation

between church of rome and england)

pilgrim fathers pilgrimage (makes people more saint) / crossing of the atlantic ocean as a

symbolic baptismal ritual of purification mayflower

(1620, published only in 1856)


not the first expedition / Pilgrim Fathers 1st expedition that mixed together religious + business

aspects (Puritans + non Puritans) / 66 days big adventure, didn’t reach the coast they had

contracted for →

symbolic crossing of the ocean chronicle/testimony of the colony from the start to 1647 / harsh

survival / stylistic model: Bible

Pilgrim + Puritans signed a contract because Cape Cod (Massachusetts) wasn’t where they were

supposed to arrive / original document is lost

they managed to survive thanks to natAm squanto effect: spoke eng to them, taught them how

to seed the area →

Pilgrim Fathers are considered the founders of Am, but it’s all thanks to literature it’s a myth

→ →

• rhetoric adventure “in the name of god/glory” religious culture

1st governor + historian William Bradford

doctrinal/political literature invention wasn’t important

→ simple lexis + syntax, sometimes with figuration


→ →

1636 first originally unit of University of Harvard / 1639 1st print house in Cambridge

autobiographism + conversion narratives importance of the “self” as an exemplum, fidelity to

religious/spiritual tradition more important than truth

pilgrimage as functional metaphor for the story of human life, in particular when this becomes

Bildungsroman / conversion processes that can become redemption processes

mrs. mary rowlandson 1635


anthropological observation of the “other” / full immersion into aborigine culture

1675 / story told the printed about women being taken captive by pagans

• → →

1. captivity tales religion conversion pact with God threatened by being held captive

2. narrative parable slow restoration of faith

title at 1st was the whole 1st phrase

• many references to the scriptures and to the mayflower compact

• →

only for private use during puritan era got published only if there was a social/religious aspect

• no adornation/literary comments but the facts/direct infos / rush of senses (what you see mixes

• with what you hear or smell) / violent/vivid scenes / horror / sequences of verbs that visualize the

images / parenthesis, where she justifies herself / sequences of image after image

→ →

between chapters she removes passage after passage associated with westerns, road

• →

movies about a trip, moves from 1 place to the other

→ → →

she’s writing in retrospect reconstructs story when she’s done moving direct experience

• →

you project meaning in the way you recapitulate/select things ~ autobio: frame your life as

example/parable/something that has a meaning, =/= from what happened in the moment but

thought in retrospect it’s her own reconstruction, she can take some liberties, reflect about the

past and change something

danger grows to create more emotion/fear in the reader

• intrusions (parenthesis, etc) at the time were made to make the story-telling acceptable

• graphic language + but at the start of phrase on purpose

• 3 authors in one: 1) tells action 2) recapitulates 3) gives religious reflection

• adaptation: maybe natAm didn’t speak in eng but in the story they do

• → →

gender roles of Nat =/= white society man good with women starts seeing humanity as

• she’s captive

→ CONVERSION STORY: revokers faith in God (hopes to be released with his help) + natAm

viewed as human, not bloodthirsty →

religious/nomadic movement Great Awakening among colonies from 1739 to 1742 question of

identity + national awareness / oral sermons

j. hector st. john de crève-cœur (1735)

colonial times: letters sent to eu to invite them to come

• real correspondence! published in london, selection of letters

• typical autobiography / rhetoric: reader has to know who the author its

• rhetoric, editorial, publishment technique: if you like it, maybe another one will come out

• reader authorized to think everything in the letter is true

• couldn’t take a position (loyalist or independentist?), so he went to eng to avoid conflict / he’s the

• →

son of the Enlighten men NATURE!

goes back to Am to introduce rotation of seeds + says Am is the best place for his children to

• have an education

1782 revolutionary man: only after centuries did people recognize natAm value

• → →

16th century center cultural movement: necessity of survival of Earth natAm environmental movement more

important in places with lots of land

he never did what he wrote: after going back to Am his farm was destroyed, his wife and kid

• killed, another son disappeared and everything had to do with natAm

became a scientist / introduced modern day system in Am

• →

wrote another book chose letters with positive feelings about Am / put together another

• collection with sketches of life and dark side of nature


letter 3: WHAT IS AN AMERICAN? ~ homo americanus = melting pot + frontier + inauguration of a

middle-american agricolture (→ farmer) 1st time deep concern about who they are

• 1782: important question, need for identity, belonging in a multicultural (religious, ethnic) society /

anticipates Lady Liberty words “where there is bread. there you’ll find home

• rationalize notion of frontier 1st to identify development of identity of Am through frontier / eu

tend to reproduce eu stuff, they stay on coast / pioneers travel through the land (no

communication/infrastructures NATURE!), they’re settlers / frontier men are those who open yup

the way to the Pacific Ocean. they’re hunters, adventurers, without real civilization. they’re the

ones who open the way for pioneers →

• VIRTUE (farmers) is between SETTLERS (eu) and ADVENTURERS (out of civilization)

farmers come, civilize land, then sell it and move to the left (west) and so on replace idea of

static eu (borders) with frontiers, movable westward with possibility of improvement

letter 12 ~ he’s going to live with his family with indians, a state inferior yet closer to nature, where

inhabitants live with more peace / fiction of the dream of integration in the indian culture / takes a

position: wrote he’s better move in with natAm, who were the only people respectful of nature,

nomadic by choice in order not to exploit land

history of andrew the hebridean ~ scottish, comes to am with nothing manages to take piece of

land (people help him built a house), in 4 years he can show the economic value of his experience

→ →

capitalistic accumulation // built as a story, not a real figure symbolically speaking, model of

am identity enforced through fiction + reassures the reader that the story is true (counts money) /

natAm pacified with eu, 2 cultures that can live together side by side anti-slavery movement

letter 9 ~ challenged slavery / visits a farmer friend, sees a slave dying being punished. asks


owners why è offers a eu based philosophical approach about slavery. owners don’t understand it,

they’re too used to slavery

• slavery economic! slaves come from Africa where Af men took them, put them on boats for

money / sold stuff everywhere during the trip / AfAm slaves already in 1611, Spanish + Portuguese

captains did the triangular trade / says the price for the renovation of reg is the slave trade

• before him there is no anti-slavery movement that addressed the natAm issue

→ →

• conversion people captured by natAm put responsibility to God block of faith / coming back

to community meant going back to religion


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Appunti di Letterature Anglo-Americane 1 (in lingua inglese)

The Literary Identity of North-America: United States
- The literary and cultural history of the US for the temporal span that goes from the Colonial period (with obvious incursions into the pre-Columbian European imagination) to 1915 (post WW1-to date elements will be studied in the following years). Identity formations and literary elements with particular attention to the cultural dynamics at work.

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea in lingue e letterature straniere
Università: Bologna - Unibo
A.A.: 2016-2017

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher ironlux di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Letteratura anglo-americana e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università Bologna - Unibo o del prof Minganti Franco.

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Altri appunti di Letteratura anglo-americana

American Theatre
American Hardboiled Fiction
Letteratura Russa 1
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