- Part 1: The American Voice
Over the centuries, American authors have shaped a vast body of work,
often reflecting voices that are distinctly American. From the
river-raft philosophizing of a poor Mississippi Valley boy, to the
"words walking without masters" filling the journey of a woman
descended from slaves, to the border-tongue blends increasingly finding
a place on the page, American literature speaks with many voices and
- Part 2: American Debuts
Part 2 explores the art of local color, beginning with how Herman
Melville and Mark Twain pioneered the use of a new American language in
their 19th -century novels.
- Part 3: Harlem Renaissance &
Early 20th-century writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance and
the New Negro Renaissance broke with standard American English and gave
literature a rich new voice.
- Part 4: The WPA
During the Depression, the Work Projects Administration (WPA) Writer's
Project nurtured talent and collected voices coast to coast.
- Part 5: African American Women
In the first half of the 20th century, Zora Neale Hurston's use of
black dialect and folk speech drew both praise and criticism. By the
end of the century Toni Morrison and Alice Walker had won the Nobel and
Pulitzer prizes respectively, for their "voice" driven prose.
- Part 6: Voices of the South
To strike effect, Southern writers drew on oral tradition and social
- Part 7: Cuban-American Voices
Cuban Americans add new spice to Florida's bilingual literature.
- Part 8: Texas and the West
In Texas they speak a whole 'nuther way … and it's lassoed by talented
- Part 9: Voices of the American Southwest
In the Southwest, the cadence of Native American language blends with
- Part 10: The Northeast
True Yankee voices emerge in the literature of the Northeast, from
Massachusetts to Maine - where submarine sandwiches are grinders and
milkshakes are frappes.
- Part 11: The Urban Landscape
Up in the Bronx, urban voices are shaped by immigrants' far-off homes -
by the sounds of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Eastern Europe and more.
- Part 12: Asian Americans
Asian language speakers face unique linguistic and cultural challenges
in America's multi-ethnic society.
- Part 13: Native Americans
Native American ancestry infuses modern literature with ancient sounds.
- Part 14: Arab American &
South Asian Voices
Arab Americans and South Asians are speaking up in new American
writing, reflecting changing waves of immigrants.
- Part 15: Hawaiian Islands
The Hawaiian islands contribute language variation including Pidgin and
Creole, at odds with Standard American English.
- Part 16: Border Tongue
On the border between the United States and Mexico, bilingualism breeds
a new "border tongue" that's neither English nor Spanish, but somehow
Suggested Reading/Additional Resources
- The Portable American Realism Reader. Eds. James Nagel
and Tom Quirk. Penguin Books: New York, NY. 1997.
- The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Editions 1 &
2. W. W. Norton & Company: New York. (Published in two
volumes, the newest edition of THE NORTON ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN
LITERATURE presents the work of 212 writers--38 newly included.
From trickster tales of the Native American tradition to bestsellers of
early women writers to postmodernism, this edition conveys the
diversity of American literature from its origins to the present.
Volume 1 covers the period of 1620-1865.)