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American Literature I

I would like for you to answer these 11 questions. If you would like the reading material I can send that information also.

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Unit 1 Assignment
The following are a number of reading selections from various authors as well as a number of questions which correspond to those readings. When you answer the question, be sure to write down the question number and copy the question. Take your time and give complete answers. I encourage you to "react" to the material; let me know what you think and why you think that way!
Note: Please wait until you have completed questions 1- 11 before you submit the Unit 1 assignment to your instructor for grading. Click on the Quick Tour button on the course homepage to review the instructions before emailing your assignments and/or click on the Assignment Dropbox icon on the study guide homepage when you are ready.
Captain John Smith, 1580 - 1631

Reading Assignment
McMichael
pp. 23-25, pp. 25-36 The General History of Virginia
pp. 38-46 A Description of New England
Written Assignment
Answer the following questions on Captain John Smith:
1. Many modern readers have objected to Smith's "rude" (his own description) writing; however, his style was based on the speech and emphatic oration of his day. Give some examples of Smith's "rude" style and state whether or not it lessens the effectiveness of this message.

2. Cite some examples from Smith's General History and Description of New England that support the statement that these works are summons to colonization as much as they are descriptions of the New World.

3. Smith made no mention of religious freedom as a reason for colonizing. His own motives for colonizing (and what he believed to be the prime motive of others) were security and materialistic. Consider whether the Pilgrims and Puritan settlement of New England invalidated Smith's assumption. Review the question of whether Smith and some modern historians are correct in their assertions that the real causes of the early settlement of both Virginia and New England were economic.
William Bradford, 1590 - 1657

Reading Assignment
McMichael
pp. 78-80, pp. 80-102 Of Plymouth Plantation
Written Assignment
Answer the following questions on William Bradford:
4. Review the reasons traditionally given to explain why Bradford wrote his history of Plymouth.

5. Explain how "Of Plymouth Plantation" is a document that reveals the early establishment of the belief that the settlement of America was divinely ordered and that its people are God's elect.
Roger Williams, 1603 - 1683

Reading Assignment
McMichael
pp. 127-128, pp. 130-131 "Of Their Persons and Parts of Body"
p. 132 "Of Their Nakedness and Clothing"
p. 133 "Of Their Government"
Written Assignment
Answer the following question on Roger Williams:
6. Williams believed that there were no real physical distinctions between Indians and white Europeans. He believed, for example, that the Indians were whites who had red skins because of the "sunne and their annoyntings" [skin painting]. Show how Williams also finds greater spiritual equivalence between whites and Indians than was found by most Puritan New Englanders, who traditionally regarded the Indians as disciples of Satan.
Anne Bradstreet, 1612 - 1672

Reading Assignment
McMichael
pp. 145-146, pp. 148-155 Contemplations
Written Assignment
Answer the following question on Anne Bradstreet:
7. The national images in "Contemplation" progress from tree to sun to bird to stone. Discuss the assertion that the "loveliest lines" in "Contemplation" are those written about natural images, especially those lines "in praise of the sun."
Edward Taylor, 1642 - 1729

Reading Assignment
McMichael
pp. 187, p. 199 Huswifery
pp. 199-200 The Ebb and Flow
Written Assignment
Answer the following questions on Edward Taylor:
8. Comment on "Huswifery" as Edward Taylor's attempt to express a sense of God's greatness and of a mortal's yearning to become passively receptive.

9. In "The Ebb and Flow," what ebbs? What flows?
William Byrd II, 1674 - 1744

Reading Assignment McMichael
pp. 263-264, pp. 268-274 From the History of the Dividing Line Betwixt Virginia and North Carolina, Run In the Year of Our Lord 1728
Written Assignment
Answer the following question on William Byrd II:
10. Contrast Byrd's uncomplimentary picture of the frontiersman with today's image of the wilderness man or woman as a person richly experiencing the most profound truths of nature.
Jonathan Edwards, 1703 - 1758

Reading Assignment
McMichael
pp. 283-285, pp. 296-301 A Divine and Supernatural Light
pp. 301-313 Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
Written Assignment
Answer the following question on Jonathan Edwards:
11. Compare and contrast the two sermons "A Divine and Supernatural Light" and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Discuss one as a demonstration of the sweetness and beauties of grace and the other as a sermon in the tradition of the Jeremiad, an example of the convicting art, designed to show God's dread sovereignty and to trouble the hearers' existence.
Note: Now is the time to send in your answers to Unit 1. Be sure you have answered all parts of each question.
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Unit 1 Assignment
The following are a number of reading selections from various authors as well as a number of questions which correspond to those readings. When you answer the question, be sure to write down the question number and copy the question. Take your time and give complete answers. I encourage you to "react" to the material; let me know what you think and why you think that way!
Note: Please wait until you have completed questions 1- 11 before you submit the Unit 1 assignment to your instructor for grading. Click on the Quick Tour button on the course homepage to review the instructions before emailing your assignments and/or click on the Assignment Dropbox icon on the study guide homepage when you are ready.
Captain John Smith, 1580 - 1631

Written Assignment
Answer the following questions on Captain John Smith:
1. Many modern readers have objected to Smith's "rude" (his own description) writing; however, his style was based on the speech and emphatic oration of his day. Give some examples of Smith's "rude" style and state whether or not it lessens the effectiveness of this message.
But when they departed, there remained neither taverne, beere house, nor place of reliefe, but the common Kettell. Had we beene as free from all sinnes as gluttony, and drunkennesse, we might have been canonized for Saints; But our President would never have beene admitted, for ingrossing to his private, Oatmeale, Sacke, Oyle, Aquavitae, Beefe, Egges, or what not, but the Kettell; that indeed he allowed equally to be distributed, and that was halfe a pint of wheat, and as much barely boyled with water for a man a day, and this having fryed some 26 weekes in the ships hold, contained as many wormes as graines; so that we might truely call it rather so much bran then corne, our drinke was water, our lodgings Castles in the ayre: with this lodging and dyet, our extreame toile in bearing and planting Pallisadoes, so strained and bruised us, and our continuall labour in the extremities of the heat had so weakned us, as were cause sufficient to have made us as miserable in our native Countrey, or any other place in the world. . . .
[Captain] JOHN SMITH. The General History of Virginia. 1624.1
No use of crude style like "Oatmeale, Sacke, Oyle, Aquavitae, Beefe, Egges, or what not, but the Kettell; that indeed he allowed equally to be distributed, and that was halfe a pint of wheat, and as much barely boyled with water for a man a day, and this having fryed some 26 weekes in the ships hold, contained as many wormes as graines;" does not detract from the effectiveness of John Smith's style, rather it reinforces it style and makes the writing more powerful.
2. Cite some examples from Smith's General History and Description of New England that support the statement that these works are summons to colonization as much as they are descriptions of the New World.

"Captaine Smith: who by his owne example, good words, and faire promises, set some to mow, others to binde thatch, some to build houses, others to thatch them, himselfe always bearing the greatest taske for his own share, so that in short time, he provided most of them lodgings, neglecting any for himselfe. This done, seeing the Salvages superfluitie beginne to decrease (with some of his workmen) shipped himselfe in the Shallop to search the Country for trade. The want of the language, knowledge to mannage his boat without sailes, the want of a sufficient power, (knowing the multitude of the Salvages) apparell for his men, and other necessaries, were infinite impediments, yet no discouragement."
[Captain] JOHN SMITH. The General History of Virginia. 1624.1
That Captain Smith was willing to take up the greatest task, he himself is searching for trade and the lack of 'necessaries' is no impediment are examples that Captain Smith is making summons for colonization.
3. Smith made no mention of religious freedom as a reason for colonizing. His own motives for colonizing (and what he believed to be the prime motive of others) were security and materialistic. Consider whether the Pilgrims and Puritan settlement of New England invalidated Smith's assumption. Review the question of whether Smith and some modern historians are correct in their assertions that the real causes of the early settlement of both Virginia and New England were economic.
The first American literature is generally considered to be certain accounts of discoveries and explorations in the New World that frequently display the largeness of vision and vigour of style characteristic of contemporary Elizabethan writers. Such qualities are evident in the work of Captain John Smith. His Generall Historie of Virginia, New-England, and the Summer Isles (1624) had the enormous vitality of much English prose in the epoch of the King James Bible.
This rich energy diminished, as literature, especially in the New England colonies, became preoccupied with theology. A religious explanation for every event was eloquently provided. Among the notable works in this vein are History of Plimmoth Plantation (posthumously pub. 1856) by William Bradford, an early governor of Plymouth Colony and The History of New England by John Winthrop, earliest governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, first published in relatively complete form in 1853. The vast theological work Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), subtitled The Ecclesiastical History of New England From Its First Planting, by the Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather was, in spite of its awkward style and didacticism, a masterpiece of religious scholarship and thought. Mather was the author of more than 400 printed works, and his father, Increase, also a clergyman, wrote about 100.
A counter voice was that of Thomas Morton, an English adventurer in America, who in The New English Canaan (1637) expounded the point of view of an early rebel against Puritanism.
Modern readers have probably found more of interest in the accounts of Indian wars and of captivities. Notable among the former are narratives such as A Brief History of the Pequot War by the English colonist John Mason, edited in 1736 by the historian Thomas Prince. Among the many published reports about colonists captured by Native Americans, perhaps the most celebrated is the narrative by Mary Rowlandson.
The literature of the colonies outside New England was generally of a less theological cast. Present-day readers may still be amused by the wit and satire of A Character of the Province of Maryland (1666) by George Alsop, an indentured servant; and they will be charmed by A Brief Description of New York (1670) by the publicist Daniel Denton. Other writings of this period may be found in the collection edited by Albert C. Myers, Narratives of Early Pennsylvania, Delaware, and West Jersey, 1630-1708 (1912).
Social ideals may strengthen the impulse of the individual to trade and cause him to develop mercantile and maritime traits. The history of New England for more than two centuries affords striking confirmation of this truth. The aspiration of a country to become an impregnable naval power will impel the government to give large aid to trade and shipping-a fact amply verified by the history of Japan since 1895, of Germany since 1870, and of England and Great Britain since 1650.
At the time of the settlement of America, three centuries ago, industry and commerce were aided but slightly by the mechanical agencies which now enable men to modify, direct, and turn to the service of mankind the forces exerted by his physical environment. Geographic conditions exercised such a strong influence upon the economic development of America that the history of American commerce should begin with a survey of the geography of the North Atlantic and the eastern part of North America. In making this survey, it will be best to consider the geographic control of both industry and commerce. As commerce is carried on chiefly to aid industry, both must receive attention in this analysis, although the presentation will as far as possible be made with reference to commerce.
4.
William Bradford, 1590 - 1657

Written Assignment
Answer the following questions on William Bradford:
4. Review the reasons traditionally given to explain why Bradford wrote his history of Plymouth.
In 1630 William Bradford wrote the first book of his history, Of Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps the settlement that year of a much larger, and potentially overshadowing, Puritan colony at Massachusetts Bay prompted Bradford to begin his history. He put aside the manuscript until 1644, when he finished the eleventh chapter, and, between 1646 and 1650, he brought the account of the colony's struggles and achievements through the year 1646. It is possible that the reason he wrote the history were part personal a kind of catharsis. Alternately, it is possible that the reasons had political undertones. He wanted his perspective to be represented. When Plymouth's first governor, John Carver, died in 1621, Bradford was elected to take his place. The governor wielded extensive powers by contemporary standards: chief judge and jury, superintendent of agriculture and trade, and secretary of state. During his lifetime Bradford was re-elected to the position thirty times, serving almost continuously, for a total term of thirty-three years until his death in 1657. Surprisingly, Bradford's unfinished manuscript was not published until 1856. It had remained in the Bradford family until 1728, when Reverend Thomas Prince placed it in his personal library in Boston's Old South Church. During the American Revolution, the manuscript was lost, presumably stolen by a British soldier during the British occupation of Boston (1775-1776). In 1855, scholars intrigued by references to Bradford in two books on the history of the Episcopal Church in America (both written in England) located the manuscript in the bishop of London's library at Lambeth Palace. In 1897, after a protracted legal battle, Of Plymouth Plantation was returned to Massachusetts.
The way in which Bradford composed Of Plymouth Plantation should remind us that his history is not a yearly chronicle of events but a retrospective attempt to interpret God's design for his "saints," that exclusive group of believers predestined for eternal salvation. Like the Puritan journal, the genre of Puritan history served a distinctly useful purpose in enhancing spiritual life. Bradford hoped to demonstrate the workings of divine providence for the edification of future generations, and since all temporal events theoretically conveyed divine meaning, the texture of Bradford's writing is as rich in historical detail as it is patterned on the language of the Geneva Bible. The word choice and cadence of Bradford's prose manifested a constant reminder of the biblical precedent for Puritan history. Yet a major tension in his narrative involves the difficulty in interpreting the providential will. As Bradford repeatedly encounters human wickedness and duplicity, Of Plymouth Plantation increasingly reveals its author's perplexity over the apparent ambiguity of divine providence. Bradford maintains his piety, but he is forced to acknowledge his perception of an infinite gulf between man and God. Such an acknowledgment amplifies the narrative's tone of humility, established at the outset, in Bradford's declaration that he shall write in the Puritan "plain style" of Biblical simplicity and concrete image, and tell the "simple truth" as well as his "slender judgment" would permit.

Many readers have noted the elegiac note of sadness on which Of Plymouth Plantation ends. If Bradford's realization that "so uncertain are the mutable things of this ...

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