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Final

entire course

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Department
English
Course Code
ENG250Y1
Professor
Alan Ackerman

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1
American Literature - Final Exam Notes
Imagining A New World
Whitman saidThe United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem”
language itself brings the world into being
symbolic codes give shape to the reality and culture that is America
stories of moral/political choices shape actual choices
women represent the new world - America is virgin land [unspoiled, “poetic fantasy in eyes of European
settlers]
America represents social union developed by choice and consent
Story of John Smith
ethnocentrism in the story - Smith assumed he had more merit than them - via religious, technological
bearings of Europeans
Natives felt just as secure about themselves: to them, settlers were theother”
romance with Pocahontas: they are the foundational, mythic couple of America
it is a relationship of consent
showed the capacity to choose social identity in the New World
American dream of success = material and spiritual achievement
the writings of European settlers had no familiar language for the New World they were experiencing
had to convey the new in terms of old language
Puritans
developed their own rhetoric in sermons
insisted Anglican church in Europe had been corrupted and urged for return to pure practices = sought
New World was spiritual rebirth
missionaries founded New England and Virginia on religious notions
believed in constant self-examination, dedication to God, limited free will
culture composed of both conformity and individuality = contradictory
used self-reflexive literature in attempt to determine path to salvation: sermons
Jeremiah Sermon joined social criticism with spirituality
holds community accountable for not living up to its ideals
Winthrops sermon: stands for wealth and love within community; sacrifices for the greater good
fuses secular with the sacred
Puritans as thenew Adam” - found themselves exposed in the wilderness experiencing original sin =
incentive to seek New World/New Eden
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin :
attempted to live virtuous life both private virtue and civic virtue; figure of modernity
Autobiography is not life of hero or saint: it is life of middle class tradesman presented
self-invention is integral ideal of the book
Franklins moral perfection project: a list of things he should observe to in order to be morally perfect;
ironic project; precursor to the Constitution which speaks of perfection within a nation
invented himself as a character in the book
presents himself as a self-made man with humble origins
enters Philadelphia as vagabond -- rags to riches story
autobiography as a genre suggests unmediated access to Franklin
however, he is a constructed character: he reflects on his life as a book, corrects mistakes
to him, writing is anarrangement of thoughts”
develops selfhood in literary terms; meaning develops from multiple historic views
autobiographies: identities include narrator, protagonist and the author
views differ from time events occurred, when written, and when read
real Franklin is not important; his literary construct is the focus
www.notesolution.com
2
Franklin modeled character after the Puritans; they stood for self-improvement; prints sermons
Franklin is first and foremost a printer; literally a man of letters
print led to the public sphere - Franklin concerned with forming common language in pluralistic society
print was a unifying language for Franklin - he learns rationality through words
“Self-Reliance”, Emerson
gives us new way of understanding reality through language
attempts to inspire listeners to see reality from two points of view: what it is and what it may be
begins with contradictory statement: “trust thy self...trust the divine has accepted you
we start with imitation of others; it is an instinct and starting point to learn
we are in process of education when we learn self-reliance
this speech is a revision of past thinkers; he alludes to Descartes and the Cogito argument
in this instance he undermines himself by paraphrasing an author
says we must overcome the difference between quoting and saying
language is the model for membership in a community - words are common
radical assertion of autonomous will within his work
“Divinity School Address”, Emerson
religion of old times is dying without a successor
divine is in everyone, not just one or two people of high authority - focuses on the individual
he instructs his listeners to practice religion alone, without mediators
Emersons new prophets are writers
points out two great errors of historical Christianity:
1. misunderstanding and mythologizing jesus/worshipping of the bible
this denies us divinity - he believes in divinity of all
2.Christianity denies first hand revelations [ie miracles of everyday life]
what you experience is important; must trust own heart to gain confidence in other men
he chooses artistry and humanity above christianity
contradictions within his writings - he claims originality, however, frequently quotes literary figures
values reason above all - must be exercised; can free self from falsehoods of tradition
he challenges one to be a good reader - this is necessary to be a good citizen of the New World
he draws on symbols of nature, history, etc to inspire citizens of young, liberal nation
individualism - in Emersons time, term considered to be evil + fragmenting entity
Emerson reconstructed term - brought new meaning: pertains to the perfection of human beings
not just fragments of a society, but liberal members of it
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave
structured around the acquisition of language: brings possibility of freedom
also a self-made man, like Benjamin Franklin
language renders slavery intolerable; writes himself into the mindset of freedom
he uses the language of whiteness/slaveholder to write about freedom = paradoxical
displays unconsummated love between slave and America
locates evil of master-slave relationship; brings out humanity in slaves
he searches for humanity, language - exposes systematic means of keeping slaves ignorant
juxtaposes: masters + knowledge; slaves + ignorance
he is an embodiment of Emersonian idealism and its capacity to change a material reality into another
often in book - slaves compared to animals; he transforms from a horse to a self
he expresses the dilemmas of America without rejecting the nation
Douglass [like Emerson] - present interpretation itself as a mode of belong to culture
Narrative is a kind of sermon - it is a call to spiritual affirmation - meant to be preached; declarative
trying to save readers’ souls from road to hell via slavery
www.notesolution.com
3
“Gettysburg Address”, Lincoln
Battle of Gettysburg was brutal, tragic -- Lincolns 217 words transformed it into symbol of national pride
style appears spontaneous and democratic
he negotiates relationship between real and ideal; doesnt mention specifics
alters the Constitution from within and suggests that all men are created equal
Constitution originally tolerated slavery - this speech changed that
The Scarlet Letter , Nathaniel Hawthorne
idea of sexually pure woman correlates to American ideals
written around time when authorship as a profession developed
Hawthornes novel is romantic -- in-between the real and fictional
fiction was condemned by Puritans for being dishonest
exposure is treated as a horrible thing
seeing and being seen are key to forming the self
blurs distinction between public and private in the novel; Hester is indifferent to public approval
idea of language as something that can, but fails to communicate - Pearl = Hesters in-articulation
novel avoids affirmative statements - written as one large question - many remain unanswered
Hawthorne tries to educate audience in sympathetic reading
sympathy is a kind of knowledge
Hester must learn to incorporate her individualism into community; purpose of scarlet letter is
socialization; an act of compromise and bridging the self + society, nature + institution, past + future
reconciles tensions that play out from the beginning
how does one forge relationship between self and community? this is the function of “A
community regards Hester as apostle; an agent of social cohesion and continuity
“Song of Myself”, Walt Whitman
Whitman cultivated a persona through word; like Franklin - he was a printer
Song of Myself” - considered to be secular mess -- who is “myself”?
is the “I” persona a character + its purpose? Can view it in 4 ways:
1.autobiographical “I”
earliest critics considered it to be this - but it is more complex
he portrays himself as a becoming rather than a being - what is the difference?
the self is molded by society and language and unmolded by inner cosmic forces
to say that its Whitman at any moment is wrong - to freeze a person in time is to lose him
2. rhetorical “I”
“I” not actual poet - adopts various masks and personas - no unifying voice
we can distinguish 5 personas: the orator, bard, observer, Whitman, and lyricist
to explore the relationship of the self and other we find an interplay of voices
3.ideological “I”
speaker is represented by a social and political forces of the poets time
contact with others overwhelms and transforms the self
passivity expressed through the poem - aims of Whitman fall prey to the conditioning of ideology
4.semiotic “I”
Whitman celebrates the self as collection of social and linguistic effects
either I or you is potentially myself - persona-making is theme of poem
it is a language experiment giving new potentials to speech
now matter how self-made you are - language you use is collective and shared
poet-reader relationship is integral toSong of Myself” - reader must actively participate
to Whitman - symbolic interpretation is elitist, linear and slow - encourages discovery rather than
reflection in his writing
meaning is created between the poet and the reader - relationship between the two here is realized, not
just recorded -- mutual construction of meaning
www.notesolution.com

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Description
1 American Literature - Final Exam Notes Imagining A New World Whitman said The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem language itself brings the world into being symbolic codes give shape to the reality and culture that is America stories of moralpolitical choices shape actual choices women represent the new world - America is virgin land [unspoiled, poetic fantasy in eyes of European settlers] America represents social union developed by choice and consent Story of John Smith ethnocentrism in the story - Smith assumed he had more merit than them - via religious, technological bearings of Europeans Natives felt just as secure about themselves: to them, settlers were the other romance with Pocahontas: they are the foundational, mythic couple of America it is a relationship of consent showed the capacity to choose social identity in the New World American dream of success = material and spiritual achievement the writings of European settlers had no familiar language for the New World they were experiencing had to convey the new in terms of old language Puritans developed their own rhetoric in sermons insisted Anglican church in Europe had been corrupted and urged for return to pure practices = sought New World was spiritual rebirth missionaries founded New England and Virginia on religious notions believed in constant self-examination, dedication to God, limited free will culture composed of both conformity and individuality = contradictory used self-reflexive literature in attempt to determine path to salvation: sermons Jeremiah Sermon joined social criticism with spirituality holds community accountable for not living up to its ideals Winthrops sermon: stands for wealth and love within community; sacrifices for the greater good fuses secular with the sacred Puritans as the new Adam - found themselves exposed in the wilderness experiencing original sin = incentive to seek New WorldNew Eden The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin : attempted to live virtuous life both private virtue and civic virtue; figure of modernity Autobiography is not life of hero or saint: it is life of middle class tradesman presented self-invention is integral ideal of the book Franklins moral perfection project: a list of things he should observe to in order to be morally perfect; ironic project; precursor to the Constitution which speaks of perfection within a nation invented himself as a character in the book presents himself as a self-made man with humble origins enters Philadelphia as vagabond -- rags to riches story autobiography as a genre suggests unmediated access to Franklin however, he is a constructed character : he reflects on his life as a book, corrects mistakes to him, writing is an arrangement of thoughts develops selfhood in literary terms; meaning develops from multiple historic views autobiographies: identities include narrator, protagonist and the author views differ from time events occurred, when written, and when read real Franklin is not important; his literary construct is the focus www.notesolution.com 2 Franklin modeled character after the Puritans; they stood for self-improvement; prints sermons Franklin is first and foremost a printer; literally a man of letters print led to the public sphere - Franklin concerned with forming common language in pluralistic society print was a unifying language for Franklin - he learns rationality through words Self-Reliance, Emerson gives us new way of understanding reality through language attempts to inspire listeners to see reality from two points of view: what it is and what it may be begins with contradictory statement: trust thy self...trust the divine has accepted you we start with imitation of others; it is an instinct and starting point to learn we are in process of education when we learn self-reliance this speech is a revision of past thinkers; he alludes to Descartes and the Cogito argument in this instance he undermines himself by paraphrasing an author says we must overcome the difference between quoting and saying language is the model for membership in a community - words are common radical assertion of autonomous will within his work Divinity School Address, Emerson religion of old times is dying without a successor divine is in everyone, not just one or two people of high authority - focuses on the individual he instructs his listeners to practice religion alone, without mediators Emersons new prophets are writers points out two great errors of historical Christianity: 1. misunderstanding and mythologizing jesusworshipping of the bible this denies us divinity - he believes in divinity of all 2. Christianity denies first hand revelations [ie miracles of everyday life] what you experience is important; must trust own heart to gain confidence in other men he chooses artistry and humanity above christianity contradictions within his writings - he claims originality, however, frequently quotes literary figures values reason above all - must be exercised; can free self from falsehoods of tradition he challenges one to be a good reader - this is necessary to be a good citizen of the New World he draws on symbols of nature, history, etc to inspire citizens of young, liberal nation individualism - in Emersons time, term considered to be evil + fragmenting entity Emerson reconstructed term - brought new meaning: pertains to the perfection of human beings not just fragments of a society, but liberal members of it Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave structured around the acquisition of language: brings possibility of freedom also a self-made man, like Benjamin Franklin language renders slavery intolerable; writes himself into the mindset of freedom he uses the language of whitenessslaveholder to write about freedom = paradoxical displays unconsummated love between slave and America locates evil of master-slave relationship; brings out humanity in slaves he searches for humanity, language - exposes systematic means of keeping slaves ignorant juxtaposes: masters + knowledge; slaves + ignorance he is an embodiment of Emersonian idealism and its capacity to change a material reality into another often in book - slaves compared to animals; he transforms from a horse to a self he expresses the dilemmas of America without rejecting the nation Douglass [like Emerson] - present interpretation itself as a mode of belong to culture Narrative is a kind of sermon - it is a call to spiritual affirmation - meant to be preached; declarative trying to save readers souls from road to hell via slavery www.notesolution.com
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