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'American Literature: Fiction and Drama' Previous Question- (2013-2017) with Answer

American Literature Fiction and Drama

Subject Code:  241111


American literature, encompassing fiction and drama, reflects the diverse and dynamic history, culture, and identity of the United States. The development of American literature can be traced through various periods, each marked by distinct themes, styles, and voices.

Colonial and Early American Literature (1600-1800):

  • Puritan Literature: Early American literature was heavily influenced by Puritan values and religious beliefs. Notable works include sermons, diaries, and religious poetry.
  • Captivity Narratives: Narratives like Mary Rowlandson's "A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson" depicted the experiences of colonists captured by Native Americans.
  • Revolutionary Literature: During the American Revolution, political pamphlets and writings by figures like Thomas Paine ("Common Sense") played a crucial role in shaping public opinion.

Romanticism (1800-1860):

  • Transcendentalism: Writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau explored the transcendentalist philosophy, emphasizing individualism, nature, and self-reliance.
  • Gothic Fiction: Edgar Allan Poe, a master of the macabre and the short story, emerged as a prominent figure during this period.

Realism and Naturalism (1865-1914):

  • Realism: Authors like Mark Twain ("The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn") and Henry James depicted ordinary life with a focus on accurate representation.
  • Naturalism: Influenced by Darwinian ideas, writers such as Stephen Crane and Frank Norris examined the impact of environment and heredity on characters.

Harlem Renaissance (1918-1937):

  • African American Literature: This cultural and artistic movement celebrated the contributions of African Americans to literature, music, and art. Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Claude McKay were key figures.

Modernism (1914-1945):

  • Lost Generation: Writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald ("The Great Gatsby") and Ernest Hemingway ("A Farewell to Arms") explored the disillusionment and trauma following World War I.
  • Southern Renaissance: Southern writers like William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor examined the complexities of the Southern experience.

Post-World War II and Contemporary Literature:

  • Beat Generation: Writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg rebelled against societal norms and explored spirituality and spontaneity.
  • Postmodernism: Authors like Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo challenged traditional narrative structures and questioned the nature of reality.
  • Multicultural Literature: With the rise of multiculturalism, authors like Toni Morrison and Sandra Cisneros explored the experiences of different ethnic groups.

American Drama:

  • Early Drama: In the 18th and 19th centuries, American drama was dominated by melodramas and patriotic plays.
  • 20th Century: Playwrights like Tennessee Williams ("A Streetcar Named Desire"), Arthur Miller ("Death of a Salesman"), and August Wilson ("Fences") explored social issues and the human condition.
  • Contemporary Drama: Playwrights such as Suzan-Lori Parks and David Mamet continue to address contemporary social, political, and personal themes.

Notable Themes:

  • American Dream: Many works explore the concept of the American Dream, its promises, and its failures.
  • Identity and Diversity: Literature grapples with issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and the evolving definition of what it means to be American.
  • Social Critique: Authors use fiction and drama to critique societal norms, injustices, and the impact of historical events on individuals.

In conclusion, American literature, including fiction and drama, is a rich tapestry that reflects the nation's evolution, diverse voices, and ongoing exploration of its identity and values.