Rationalism / Age of Enlightenment period of American Literature - 1750-1800

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Content:

  • national mission and American character
  • democratic utopia
  • use of reason
  • history is an act of individual and national self-assertion

Genre/Style:

  • political pamphlets
  • travel writing
  • highly ornate writing style
  • fiction employs generic plots and characters
  • fiction often tells the story of how an innocent young woman is tested by a seductive male

Effect:

  • patriotism grows
  • instills pride
  • creates common agreement about issues
  • shows differences between Americans and Europeans

Historical Context:

  • tells readers how to interpret what they are reading to encourage Revolutionary War support
  • instructive in values

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