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Stephen F. As the United States moved into the twentieth century, crime and detective stories lost some of their melodrama and detectives, and criminals functioned in a more realistic world of human frailty, error, miscalculation, and social networks. Detectives and readers were asked to consider both crime and its consequences.

When organized crime threatened American social integrity, for example, mob- sters became prominent in the genre and required equally tough detectives to bring them to justice, characters and tropes Dashiell Hammett mastered in the s and s. Detectives, criminals, and the fiction they populated entered a morally relative world and tried their best to eradicate the troublesome elements in order to enact justice.

Wilkins Freeman reflect the social environment and historical era in which it was produced? Auguste Dupin? How has the character of the detective remained consistent over time? What do you think accounts for these differences and similarities? How have technological advancements appeared in detective and crime fic- tion, and what do those advancements suggest about the culture? How do you see crime fiction at work in other areas of culture? How do crime dramas on television or in movies compare to fiction?

What do you think accounts for the popularity of crime drama? A pioneering study of formula fiction. Howard Haycraft, ed. Compiles the most authoritative writings on the genre in the first half of the twentieth century. Argues that the commercial success of a text should not deter critics from study- ing it; instead, the criticism should look toward the societal interests in which it was produced.

Beginning with Pauline Hopkins in , traces the lineage of African American detective fiction written by black Americans about black detectives and incorpo- rating themes of race and racial tension. Ronald R. People of Interest Anna Katharine Green — American poet and novelist, one of the first writers of detective fiction in America, distinguished by adherence to legal accuracy. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first and best-known novel, The Leavenworth Case She became a best-selling author, eventually publishing about forty books. Pauline Hopkins — African American poet, journalist, playwright, and fiction writer best known for her serialized novel Of One Blood — Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?

In the United States, this standard has long been seen as synonymous with the culture of White Anglo-Saxon Protes- tants. But recent arrival on American shores was not the only criterion applied. The cultural ways of Native Ameri- cans, African Americans, and Mexican Americans, communities that had long lived within the boundaries of the United States, were also deemed outside of the American mainstream and thus qualified as examples of ethnic identities. Although it is important to realize the specific histories and contexts, as well as the differences within each ethnic culture, it is possible to identify a few recurrent themes in ethnic writing.

Located on the margins of American society and culture, ethnic groups had to contend with negative stereotypes and various forms of discrimination and oppression. Therefore, ethnic writers often confronted and opposed a literary record that demeaned their culture and their people. This fact notwithstanding, the writing of ethnic groups goes far beyond tales of suffering and victimization. Caught in a clash between their traditional world and a new environment and faced with the strains of marginality and the pressures of assimilation, ethnic literature reflects the relationship between subordinate and dominant cultures and is centrally concerned with the ques- tion of identity formation.

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But ethnic writing has interest and value beyond the realm of non-mainstream groups insofar as it sheds a revealing light on the established writers in the American literary canon. Owing to their social status and the educational and economic conditions that lay at its base, members of ethnic groups were slow to emerge as active voices in the growing body of American literature, and it took until the second half of the twentieth century for an ethnic label to become an asset rather than a liability.

Despite this fact, it would be wrong to assume that ethnic writing was nonexistent before the twentieth century. The birth of an African American literary tradition can be said to have started with black poet Phillis Wheatley in the late eighteenth century. Slave narratives began to be published as early as the late eighteenth century and recorded the experiences of human bondage in the Southern states from the perspective of the oppressed. In the second half of the nineteenth century, African American auto- biographical memoirs and narratives gradually gave way to fiction as a means of expression, and writers such as Charles W.

Chesnutt, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson turned their talents to writing poetry, short fiction, and novels. Both Chesnutt and Dunbar attracted the attention of William Dean Howells, earning his praise and support as skillful and talented imagina- tive writers. With the publication of Booker T.

American Literature Essay Topics

By the nineteenth century, American Indians were beginning to tell their own stories. As the nineteenth century neared its end, more and more writers for whom immigration was a recent experience began to publish material in which they either recorded their personal stories in biographical formats or used them as a basis for writing fiction. Spring Fragrance Apart from ethnic literature written in English, immigrants and members of other minorities also created a large body of texts in their native languages. In vaude- ville theaters and other venues of the popular stage, performers masqueraded as African Americans, Irishmen, Germans, and other minorities and attracted large audiences who subsequently bought cheaply made pamphlet anthologies filled with humorous dialogs and sketches.

Viewed in its entirety, ethnic American writing covers a spectrum which has far more to offer than exotic people and scenes or instances of ethnic self- description and self-discovery. With its thematic variety, its stylistic range, and its cultural contexts, ethnic writing is a vital category in American literature and offers a broad field for exploration and study. Would you expect ethnic writers to write about topics and in a style that differs from so-called mainstream writers?

At the same time, contemporary debates about ethnic writing tend to be limited to Native American, African Ameri- can, Latino, and Asian American writers. Why do you think other groups virtually play no role in the discussion of ethnic literature? Can you explain why people would object to the idea that an author might adopt the voice of an ethnic group to which he or she does not belong? An Annotated Bibliography Pasadena, Cal. In its coverage of the four major American ethnic literatures, lists bibliographies on individual ethnic groups and on ethnic history and immigration.

It also provides background information for teachers, selected reading lists of primary works, and an annotated bibliography of relevant literary criticism. Emmanuel S. A comprehensive resource that covers the topic of American ethnic writing by offering its readers more than 1, entries not only on individual writers, their major works, and the traditions to which they belong but also on literary and linguistic issues, historical and social contexts.

With its cross-references, biblio- graphic information, and illustrations, it is an invaluable reference tool. Covers a broad range of texts, combining ethnicity theory with an examination of literary and rhetorical patterns to arrive at an understanding of how people from various ethnic backgrounds came to see themselves as Americans. In the course of time ethnicity has been transformed from a liability to an asset.


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Sollors, ed. It invites readers to expand their notion of what constitutes American literature.

Notes for Norton Anthology of American Lit Essay

Specifies the elements that characterize ethnic writing. It distinguishes between literature about immigrants, for immigrants, and literature growing out of the ethnic-groups experience and discusses the various pressures linguistic, liter- ary, commercial that result from the traditionalist demands and progressive desires.

Spiller et al. New York: Macmillan, , pp. William Peterfield Trent et al.


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Devotes more than sixty pages to works written in other languages than English, drawing attention to texts produced by European immigrants in German, French, and Yiddish. Abraham Cahan — Lecturer, translator, novelist, and editor of the Jewish Daily Forward from to Joel Chandler Harris — Georgia humorist, lecturer, journalist, and folklorist.

Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins c. James Weldon Johnson — African American journalist, civil-rights activist, poet, and teacher. Washington — Founding principal of the Tuskegee Institute, an industrial and normal school in Alabama for African American men and women. Humor may thus have contributed to the drive for urban, realistic language and staging. A variety of regional humors, including the Southwestern, Northeastern, Yankee, Knickerbocker, and Western, led up to the era under discussion. From the Southwest came the raucous vulgarity of the fistfight, the bear hunt, and hard drinking.

From the Northeast, urban dialect and settings combined with national and class perspectives; from the Yankees came pragmatism and prac- ticality and a notable suspicion of claims to higher motives; from the Knick- erbockers, a thorough sense of upper-class pretensions; and from the West, skepticism. As early as , Charles G. Humor and Realism in America interconnected on many levels. Literary comedy of the period was represented across a wide spectrum of authors. Shaw , famous for his aphorisms and almanacs; James M. Landon were ori- ented toward domestic comedy and thin jokes; longer fiction was outside their scope, and comic trivia sometimes replaced a feeling of narrative objectivity.

The narrators themselves and their characters were not elevated or refined, and their moralizing was in persona and part of the objec- tive scene. Poets writing with similar comic style included James Whitcomb Riley, William Carleton, and Sam Walter Foss, all of whom combined local color, sentiment, and humor. All used the narrative style localized by voice, dialect, and subject matter, even when addressing larger issues. A host of lesser and long-forgotten local reporters filled columns in papers across the nation with local descriptions of slapstick comic events, local and newspaper slang, and commonplace vernacular speech.

The Norton Anthology of American Literature 1865 1914

Ambrose Bierce, the most bitter and cynical of the humorists of his age, stands in a category by himself for his acrid aphorisms concerning politics, society, and American life. Can Realism as a genre coexist with humor, or are they mutually exclusive? An allied topic is whether or not poetry can be realistic enough to fall within the genre of Realism. Major comedians of the period, although paralleling the careers of Realist and Naturalist writers, are virtually unknown, though their writings were extremely popular and Ward and Leland were considered by English critics to be unique specimens of American pragmatic attitudes and irreverence.

Would they have been remembered if they had written longer works? Is literary humor too localized on historical events to offer broader visions of humanity with the seeming objectivity of great Realist novels and short stories? Henry James in the opening of The American describes the hero Chris- topher Newman as he seeks a trophy wife and shows him as grotesquely naive in his first visit to the home of the Bellegardes, his adversaries in his quest.

Bellegarde, for example, only flinches as Newman innocently but vulgarly appraises the quality of the main hall, but suppresses all emotion as the unso- phisticated Newman rattles on. Is this unrecognized realistic humor in a novel that is usually taken as serious? Hennig Cohen and William B.

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Reference Stanley Tractenberg, ed. Criticism Kenneth S. David E.