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The authors and movements in this text are representative of the American Canon. Asking students to think about experimental form in Realist poetry, how an African American author depicts the Old South, and how turn of the century immigration issues impacted the literature of the time period enables them to perform thought exercises that are transferable to more modern literary, musical, cinematic contexts. Most of the usual suspects in a postbellum US literature survey are represented here, although there are some notable absences e.

After this date, the selection of texts relies on external hyperlinks, sometimes to sites with high editorial standards such as Poetry Foundation poetryfoundation. The introductory essays to each chapter are engagingly written but, as guides to literary history, they are sometimes flawed by oversimplification and omissions.

The modernism essay subsection on modernist poetry gives a good example of the oversimplifying tendency prevalent in the book. On this questionable criterion, T. Writing the Nation is arranged in such a way that necessary updates can be relatively easily made.


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Overhauling the introductory chapter essays would enhance the value of this otherwise useful teaching resource, for which texts have been selected, edited, and introduced with care. Writing the Nation is an anthology made up of discrete literary texts, and thus can be easily divided into smaller modules or sections in accordance with instructor objectives. Unlike the standard print anthologies, Writing the Nation is organized in terms of a progression of U. This commitment to periodize through the evolution of literary form is exciting, but inconsistently deployed.

Washington, W. Writing the Nation offers a rich and sensitive collection of texts by European-American and African-American writers. As past reviewers have noted, the inclusion of more works by Native American, Latinx, and Asian-American authors would better represent the multiethnic dimension of U.

For a concise anthology, Writing the Nation is comprehensive. Still, I found that two-thirds of the assigned readings on my syllabus for an American literature survey class for the same period are contained in this textbook. Most of the remaining one-third of readings could easily be replaced by a different work that is included in this textbook, often by the same author.

Most instructors should be able to adjust to the loss of a personal favorite here or there. Roughly, the total number of anthologized authors is comprised of half white men, one-fourth women, and one-fourth writers of color.

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I was pleased with the content of introductory material for periods, authors, and works. I found it consistent with the way I would discuss those periods, authors, and works with students. So, both the selection of readings seems to be made up of good representative choices and the context into which these readings are set seems accurate.

In Table of Contents, section 6. Some anthologies lean more or less toward expanding the range of the canon; as a concise collection, this work does not make steps in that direction. It is not blazing new paths. The overall way information is presented is consistent. The number of reading and review questions for a given reading varied quite a bit. For example, short stories similar in length ranged from having one follow-up question per story to six.

And by themselves each module is fairly small. Theoretically, though, a module could be used to supplement another course. The overall organization is fine. It is fundamentally chronological, which makes sense and which is consistent with other similar textbooks. I found navigating the work to be easy. The way in which each section and sub-section is identified by a number will also make directing students to specific sections easy.

There is a logic to the structure of the textbook. All the parts logically connect together and can be accessed without difficulty. The possibility of future dead links identified by another reviewer is a concern.


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Representative works from the history of American literature for the past years are culturally relevant. Some people may find this collection less relevant than those anthologies that attempt to broaden our acceptance of what is important in that history. Other reviewers, for example, have noted the omission of Native American texts. I would have little difficulty adopting this textbook for use in my classroom. It has immediate and practical application. More and more students are refusing to purchase expensive anthologies, even used ones, and instead they piece together the syllabus readings from wherever they can, such as online and competing with each other for library copies.

Reviewed by D.

Department of Language & Literature: Literature

Writing the Nation: A Concise Introduction to American Literature to Present provides a very comprehensive guide to contemporary American literature after Particularly, the editors have taken great care to focus on diversity, both of Particularly, the editors have taken great care to focus on diversity, both of authors and of texts outside what we, and our students, may have read from canonical writers before.

If I have any complaint with the comprehensiveness of the anthology, it is the most contemporary section, which jumps from Plath to DeLillo. This may be somewhat unavoidable, however, considering the copyright difficulties and expenses connected to publishing more recent material. I was surprised by how accurately an open textbook was able to capture the needs of teaching contemporary American literature since !

American Literature in Context to 1865 has been added

With the exception of the collection lacking any Elizabeth Bishop, there is not a single author before the s I found missing from a diverse, comprehensive, and accurate look at American literature. This text will not soon become irrelevant. Literature instructors perhaps always struggle with the most contemporary area of a text lacking, but otherwise this covers the time period with a commitment to diversity very well. Not that relevant to talk about consistency for a literature anthology, except to say that this collection is very consistently curated at a highly professional and usable level.

Up until chapter 6, the editors have taken great care to distinguish literary movements and time periods, which translates well to teaching a course. Chapter 6 lacks such modularity and particularity of movements, but this is not uncommon in anthologies. The editors have taken great care to talk about the social and cultural relevance of all texts they have included and how literary movements are both shaped by and shape cultural revolutions. It is that. It provides It provides representative texts from each literary movement within the timeframe covered.

The chapter introductions address influences of historic events and prior literary movements, and provide review questions as well as lists of key terms. While these are good, they could benefit from more contextualization for students- for example, citing recent scholarship on Emily Dickinson that expands our understanding of her works rather than alluding to it, and offering examples of nineteenth century songs that might be construed as metrical influences in one of the review questions p.

The works and authors included are representative of their literary movements, providing a solid, if limited introduction for students. An instructor would likely want to supplement with more works by women, Native Americans, and Hispanic writers, and possibly relevant primary sources, again, to contextualize the social milieus in which the authors wrote.

There is no index, and because of the stand along format of each chapter, none is necessary. Chapter introductions and works appear accurate. Author entries in the glossary are inconsistent in providing lifespan dates, which leads to the impression that Tennessee Williams, for example, is still alive. It is unbiased in its approach. The text is very accessible and offers understandable definitions and examples of literary terms and descriptions of movements.

The text allows reorganization and use nicely, whether by author, work, or chapter. Modularity could be increased by integrating glossary terms in the Key Terms list at the end of each chapter where appropriate rather than having an overall glossary at the end.

The organization and flow is generally logical with the exception, as mentioned above, of the glossary at the end, and a lack of footnoting that would facilitate finding those definitions. Text and images are clear, unambiguous, and easily viewed. There are errors. Examples: Repeated text: pg - Glossary entry: Romanticism is A literary movement that begin in the late eighteenth century and often focused on unique feelings of the speaker and the importance of nature in relation to individuals.

Native American works are almost wholly lacking, which I find surprising. Leslie Marmon Silko is included in the Post Modernism chapter, but seminal historic works, including speeches, are lacking. Writing the Nation is a useful introductory text that deserves further attention in expanding its culturally inclusive and historic coverage.

American Literature in Context | | Taylor & Francis Group

Its format and organization make it a viable open access text. The text has "concise" in its title, and it is concise. Each of the six chapters is arranged around a literary movement, and starts with learning outcomes and an introduction to the movement. Then all the expected authors are here with a piece or Then all the expected authors are here with a piece or two or three. Some pieces are included full text in the book, while other pieces are linked to a website.

Each author is introduced with a short biography, and after each author's texts are adequate review questions. The text as a whole has a reasonable glossary of terms at the end.

LITR231 American Literature to 1865

An American Literature course could use what's here and feel certain students are getting the important pieces of each time period, though instructors may need to supplement the textbook with their own individual favorite texts. The book is accurate, mostly error-free, and seems unbiased.

There are very occasional spacing errors, common in electronic texts. The text content is up-to-date, and arranged in a way that would make it easy to update materials.