Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

Literature of the American Revolution.

I d e o l o g i c a l  B a c k g r o u n d

- the 18th c. = the age of reason and enlightenment

- development of natural sciences

T h e  C o n c e p t  o f  G o d :

(a) 17th c., Puritan: God = an interfering force

(b) 18th c.: God = a passive force, a personalised image of God comparable to the clockmaker

- man should be active, should understand the nature mechanism

=> the idea of progress, man capable of moral improvement

T h e  C o n c e p t  o f  H u m a n  N a t u r e :

- Thomas Hobbes: man as an animal

- J. Locke: human mind as ‘tabula rasa’ [= ‘a blank sheet of paper’], can be inscribed positively or negatively

T h e  C o n c e p t  o f  S t a t e :

- important for the Am. democracy

- John Lock: state = a contract guaranteeing the protection of human rights and responsible to its citizens who can anytime create a new government

- T. Jefferson [see his “The Declaration of Independence”]


T h e  W a r  o f  I n d e p e n d e n c e  ( 1 7 7 5 – 8 3 )

-Boston Tea Party (1773): the Br. government rose taxes to cover the costs of the war against Fr., the Am. refuses the taxes, so Br. soldiers were sent to Boston; the Am. patriots threw a cargo of Br. tea into the Boston Harbour, and started the boycott of the Br. trade

- George Washington: commander of the Continental Army

- T. Jefferson: author of the “Declaration of Independence” (July 4th, 1776)

- G. Washington, B. Franklin, J. Madison: authors of the “Constitution” (1789)


T h e  F o u n d i n g  F a t h e r s

- authors of the most memorable writings of the 18th c., esp. political pamphlets

- practical philos.: aimed to create a happy society based on justice and freedom

- admirers of the Eur. Enlightenment: believed in human intelligence, understanding of both nature and man, and man’s ability to improve himself

- leaders of the Rev. and writers of the Constitution


T h e  F e d e r a l i s t

- a series of 85 political essays, known collectively as ‘The Federalist Papers’ (1787 – 88)

- signed ‘Publius’ = the coll. pseudonym for A. Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay

- defended the Constitution to replace the existing Articles of Confederation and demanded its immediate ratification

- argument: a strong central government necessary for security and survival, and compatible with individual liberty

- a high-minded level of political discourse: theoretically complex, often ironic, always lucid and adhering to ‘cool and deliberate’ thinking, seldom indulging in rhetorical flourishes

- orig. to infl. a relatively small group of voters, addressed ‘to the People of New York’ x but: eventually became a central document for historical and judicial interpretation of the Constitution

=> the consummate expression of one of Am.’s most consequential political programs and philos.

- result: the Constitution ratified (1789), A. Hamilton x J. Madison became political opponents

A l e x a n d e r  H a m i l t o n ( 1 7 5 7 – 1 8 0 4 )

- a politician and lawyer in NY City

- the chief contrib. to The Federalist

J a m e s  M a d i s o n  ( 1 7 5 1 – 1 8 3 6 )

- a Virginian

- co-author of the Constitution

- later the 4th US President

J o h n  J a y  ( 1 7 4 5 – 1 8 2 9 )

- a NY attorney

- later the NY governor

- because of ill health contrib. to the 1st 5 essays only


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


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