Age of Reason in American Literature

Category: Education

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The Age of Reason : 

1 The Age of Reason 1750-1800

American Literature up to this point (from 1470-1800) : 

2 American Literature up to this point (from 1470-1800) Native American poetry and legends Puritans – narratives that looked inward and involved religious beliefs Age of Reason – rise of political /public writing: documents, almanacs, pamphlets Few poets and essayists Modern short-story has not yet been invented No American novel or drama of any significance Only a small amount of American Literature has accumulated

18th Century (1700s) : 

3 18th Century (1700s) Age of Reason or The Enlightenment Valued reason over faith Unlike the Puritans, writers did not worry about the hereafter Valued the power of reason and science Assumed that people are good not evil

Revolutionary Period : 

4 Revolutionary Period Characterized by the ideas and writings of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine In contrast to the Puritans’ writing: (private letters, essays and sermons), much of what was produced during this time was public writing: pamphlets, newspapers, almanacs, speeches Focus on persuasive writing, intended to convince citizens to join revolutionary causes

Politics : 

5 Politics Journalists and printers provided a forum for the expression of ideas. Most of the writing was political – responses to the strained relationship with Great Britain and trying to break free to form a new government The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution to placate (soothe) those who feared granting the government too much power.

Important Literature : 

6 Important Literature Thomas Paine ‘s Common Sense – a pamphlet that swayed public opinion in favor of independence (1776) Thomas Jefferson ‘s The Declaration of Independence – one of the most influential political statements ever made (1776) Patrick Henry ‘s speech against the Stamp Act – “Give me liberty or give me death.”

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