American Literature Introduction


Welcome! Today we begin our study of American literature by looking at the American dream and its impact on our understanding of humanity's role in the universe.


What is literature?

Literature = word works of lasting importance


Who cares?

You do. Like all human beings, you wonder about your purpose in life. Do you exist for a reason? Is there purpose in the universe or is everything an accident? Do you have a soul? Will part of you exist forever? It's scary to think that we all might just end and have no knowledge that we ever existed.


Great thinkers and writers created works that answer some of our most serious questions and some answers help us feel less afraid of life and death. Their answers give us our belief systems and help define what an American is and what an American can do.


Mesa Verde KivaNative American Literature and the American Dream

The dream began when people first went to the North American continent.  The people who went to America went because they wanted more than what they already had.  Some looked for a way to just survive. Others  had dreams of adventure, freedom, and opportunity. Archaeologists think that people first went to North America from Asia between twenty thousand and forty thousand years ago. They went across a land bridge between the eastern part of Russia and western Alaska during the Ice Age.




Characteristics of Native American Literature

 The descendents of the people who came from Asia to North America are now called Native Americans.  We begin our study of American literature with their works.

Essential Question: What is humanity's role in the universe?


Native American Answer:  If we study nature and live in harmony with it, then we do not have to fear life or death.


Characteristics Summary: oral, repetitious, rhythmic, metaphorical, archetypal, mythical, and about nature

Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings


2010 Gale Sperry,,  All rights reserved.