AmericanLiterature - HannahKane FirstPaper...

This preview shows page 1 - 3 out of 6 pages.

Hannah KaneFirst PaperUndergraduate Seminar4 Feb. 2011For most people, the first thing that leaps to mind when someone says “Americanliterature” is Mark Twain, or Ernest Hemingway. This is far too narrow a definition, and ourcollective conception of American literature needs to be updated and diversified. Americanliterature, in my estimation, is literary work produced by Americans, for an American audience,about life as an American. The definition of “American,” however, is up for discussion, as itapplies to both the producers and consumers of what we are calling “American” literature. Lesspotentially ambiguous, perhaps, is the concept that American literature isaboutAmerica and itspeople; however, for a work to fall into the category of American literature, it must first meetprerequisites: that it is by an American, and that it is intended for American consumption.The term “American,” when discussing the people who write American literature, is one Iam willing to apply rather more broadly than some. For me, “American” includes not justnatural­born citizens residing in the United States, but also expatriates, both those from othercountries staying in the United States and American citizens living abroad. There is no specificlength of time a writer is required to spend in the United States before I will accept them into theAmerican canon; rather, my concern lies in their familiarity with American life, people, culture,and society – especially if the writer is only staying in America temporarily. Of course, once onetakes up residency in the United States, one is an American, whose work is valid forconsideration as American literature. “American” also includes members of minority groups –African­Americans, Jewish Americans, etc. – who write about American life from perspectivesoutside that of the straight, white, assimilated, established male. Once a writer has becomeKane 5
familiar with American life, said writer’s work may be considered American literature,particularly if that work meets the other two requirements – if it includes Americans in itsaudience, and/or is specifically about the American experience.As to the second criterion, the notion that American literature must be directed toward anAmerican audience, follows the first point. For literature to be “American,” it must becomprehensible to Americans. Something about American literature speaks to other people

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

End of preview. Want to read all 6 pages?

Upload your study docs or become a

Course Hero member to access this document

Term
Spring
Professor
N/A

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture