The Development of early American Literature
The American literature began as oral pieces which were being recited or sung. They had no written form of literature. This went on till the time the Europeans colonialists came to America. Their coming built a new genre of literature. The Europeans wrote poems, notes, prose and some pamphlets about the New World as they used to call the American land.
The Native American literature had three beliefs in the oral literature. These include: the belief about social order and appropriate behavior, the nature of the physical world and the belief about human nature and the problem of good and evil. Songs were the major American literature. They could be lullabies, war chants, and love songs among others. Myth strongly influences the Native American life. They call the American land the turtle Island. The Native American Myths still exist, but most are taught in English language. The stories were told to be believed rather than a mere entertainment.
During the Age of Exploration and Adventure some developments took place in the American literature. Columbus is mistakenly believed to be the first European to set his foot in America. This is not the case as Amerigo Vespucci had arrived before. From this name, the name America was derived. In his writing he says “Let it be said in whisper, experience is certainly worth more than theory”. In this era, literature about experience, adventure and exploration takes a twist to become pieces like narrative persuasive pamphlet, the ordinary pamphlet, notes, and prose among others. For example, In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazano wrote the letter to the king. This was a journey from North Carolina to Maine across the North American seaboard. He also wrote the idyllic of the New Land. Thomas Hariot also records a brief true report of the New found land. Captain John Smith was the first American to write literature. He tried to make English Language and the American experience united. He wrote “A true relation” in 1608 and “A map of Virginia” in 1612.
The colonial period also came with its development in literature. It contained poetry, political document, speeches, prose, journals, pamphlets, histories and sermon. The establishment of a printer in 1639 at Cambridge aggravated the process. Differences in literature according to regions have now taken shape. These are the South, the Middle and the New England. The New England inclined them to the Puritanism. This belief claims good writing must bring full awareness of the significance of worshiping God. William Bradford was the first colonialist to arrive and wrote “Of Plymouth Plantation” in 1651. It was about the beginning of his settlement. John Winthrop also wrote “City upon a hill” to describe this new settlement. Cotton Mather wrote ecclesiastical history of New England.
The most famous piece in this era was Day of Doom by Michael Wigglesworth. This is a very sensitive poem which accounts for the judgment day. Other poets during this period include: Bradstreet’s To my dear and loving husband. There is also Edward Taylor who writes a variety of poems like Meditation six, the experience, housewifery, spinning wheel among others. Jonathan Edward wrote scientific and philosophical works like sinner in the hands of a hungry go, religious affections among others.
The South based their Attention to external life of the colony. They are interested in political and social issues than the metaphysics. The famous Southern writer is William Bird who wrote the history of the dividing line. Another writer in this region is Alexander Whitaker who wrote good news from Virginia. The Middle colonies concentrated on the topography and history of the world. William Penn wrote some fruits of solitude.
According to the developments above, it is clear that literature has really changed. It has developed from the oral era to the written era. Most writers have also joined in the writing industry to write more articles of different genres. This has led to the development of several genres in the literature world which are being used currently.