Ethnic Literature Essay
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American literature is just that American literature. American literature is stories of people lives that are based on American standards. Early American standards where based around slavery and oppression but now they are based on freedoms like freedom of speech and press. America has been through many time periods that has shaped it into the wonderful nation that we have today. True American literature is about life in the United States. This paper will create an understanding about American ethnic literature.
What is literary canon? How does literary canon relate to what is going on in society? Is traditional American literature multicultural? Literary canon is a classification of literature that is used to describe books or literature that is considered to be important of a time period or place. For writing to become canonized, it has to become widely respected by influential literary critics, scholars, teachers, and anyone that is respected in opinions and judgments regarding literary work.
A canonized piece of literature becomes very popular and is studied by students in thousand of classrooms around the world (Casey, 2009) Canonized literature reflects the norms or standards that society follows for a certain time period and location.
As society changes so does the type of literature that is canonized (Casey, 2009). For example the biggest topic that people are writing about now is the so called end of the world but about one hundred years ago it was about freedom and anti slavery.
In my opinion traditional American Literature is multicultural because the American population is a mixture of so many other cultures. The United States is a melting pot of cultures of the world and that is what makes the US so interesting. Please define “ethnic literature” and then indicate what you think the value is in studying it, in your opinion? What special challenges do ethnic writers have within the American literary experience? Ethnic literature is piece of writing that is written by people from different cultures, languages, or religion.
For example, Native American literature includes “memories of creation stories, the tragic wisdom of native ceremonies, trickster narratives, and the outcome of chance and other occurrences in the most diverse cultures in the world” (Vizenor, 1995, p. 1). People with the mix of Spanish, Native American, and African cultures have created Hispanic American literature (Kanellos, 1995). In my opinion, there are many reasons why ethnic literature should be studied. Reason One: When you read “true” literature writing from other religions, you can gain “true” understanding of what the religion is all about.
For example I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The LDS or Mormon Church as known by many is a very misunderstood religion. A study of “true” ethnic literature in this case would eliminate any misunderstanding that people have about the LDS Church. Reason Two: There are certain cultures that we do not know anything about and when we read about them, we will be able to understand why they do certain things. I want to call this cultural understanding. We have all heard the saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.
” then we shouldn’t judge a religion or a culture by the things they do until we understand why they do those things. How do ethnic writers define literature? How does that differ from the canon of traditional American literature? “Traditional” American literature and ethnic literature differ based on the back ground of the author. “Traditional” American literature is influenced by culture within the United States. Ethnic literature is influenced by culture outside of the United States.
The author Mark Twain comes to mind first because he is a talented American author that wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and later Adventure of Huckleberry Finn. Both of these novel get their story lines and settings from Twain life and growing up in Hannibal Missouri. Twain based these novels culturally in the United States and not in another country. If Twain would have based these novels in another country they would be considered ethnic literature is stead of “traditional” literature. These novels would have been totally different based in another culture.
Life in the United States is far different then life in Africa or Nigeria. Parts of Africa are considered third world countries. Traditional America literature is based in the US. What historical, socio-political, and cultural topics might be covered by ethnic writers? How does this differ from the canon of traditional American literature? Slavery and Voting Rights are major topics covered by ethnic writers. How are the American literary themes of liberty, opportunity and equality addressed in ethnic literature?
American history is full of stories about liberty, opportunity, and equality for other ethnic groups. For example Blacks had to fight for the same freedoms that where give to Whites in the early years of our wonderful nation. Many novels where written trying to Early American standards where based around slavery and oppression but now they are based on freedoms like freedom of speech and press. America has been through many time periods that has shaped it into the wonderful nation that we have today. True American literature is about life in the United States.
References Casey, J. (2009). Canon Issues and Class Contexts: Teaching American Literature from a Market Perspective. Radical Teacher, (86), 18-27. Dickstein, M. (2007). Going Native: When American literature became good enough for Americans, what happened to the literary canon?. American Scholar, 76(1), 150-155. Kanellos, N. (1995). Hispanic American literature. A brief introduction and anthology. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley. Vizenor, G. (1995). Native American literature. A brief introduction and anthology. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley.