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The American Hero and Manifest Destiny

Page history last edited by Abigail Heiniger 8 years, 6 months ago

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    • CLASS ID 11454535




Literary Eras

Individual authors negotiate and bend/transition through these styles (learning about the ways authors negotiate these categories is one of the learning outcomes in this class). These are resources you may want to refer to when you are working on your final papers.  


  • Romanticism: characterized by sentimentality (educating through feeling). It is an artistic era associated with the first half of the nineteenth-century.
    • In the United States, transcendentalism is often merged with a part of the transatlantic romantic movement.  
    • Romanticism is often associated with British (and European) authors such as Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley. However, American authors such as Edgar Allan Poe were often classified as Romantics. 
    • American transcendentalism is a home-grown American literary tradition that is also considered an off-shoot of Romanticism.   
  • Realism: characterized by a sense of pragmatism - attempts to see the world realistically (often includes satire and social critique). 
    • Realism is often characterized as a rejection of Romanticism which became especially popular after the Civil War. 
    • Realism in Visual Art 
  • Naturalism - attempt to create a natural view of the world (and human nature).
    • Often resists traditional plots (as artificial). 
  • Modernism: artistic era after WWI (1914). It is similar to naturalism in its rejection of traditional Victorian aesthetic tropes (and values). 
  • Post-Modernism: a revision or turn in Modernism after WWII (which may be characterized as an intensification of Modernism ideas, not a rejection of them).
    • A rejection of the sovereign autonomous individual with an emphasis upon anarchic collective, anonymous experience. Collage, diversity, the mystically unrepresentable, Dionysian passion are the foci of attention. Most importantly we see the dissolution of distinctions, the merging of subject and object, self and other. This is a sarcastic playful parody of western modernity and the "John Wayne" individual and a radical, anarchist rejection of all attempts to define, reify or re-present the human subject.  
    • Post-Modernism - definition  


Regional Literary Styles

Regional literary styles may reflect large geographic eras or small localities. This course is organized by regions! 





Westward Expansion: Heroic Narratives and Manifest Destiny in the American West



Manifest Destiny is a term for the attitude prevalent during the 19th century period of American expansion that the United States not only could, but was destined to, stretch from coast to coast. This attitude helped fuel western settlement, Native American removal and war with Mexico. The phrase was first employed by John L. O’Sullivan in an article on the annexation of Texas published in the July-August 1845 edition of the United States Magazine and Democratic Review, which he edited. (History.com)


Louis L'Amour 

The man who would become Louis L'Amour grew up in the fading days of the American frontier. He was born Louis Dearborn LaMoore on March 22, 1908, the last of seven children in the family of Dr. Louis Charles LaMoore and Emily Dearborn LaMoore.


  • Chronologically, Daybreakers should be post-modern literature.
  • Stylistically, Daybreak's should be classified as romanticism or realism. 
    • It includes Romantic elements like the dead or dying wife as well as an idealism of the American west.


Daybreakers Summary


Tyrel Sackett was born to trouble, but vowed to justice. After having to kill a man in Tennessee, he hit the trail west with his brother Orrin. Those were the years when decent men and women lived in fear of Indians, rustlers, and killers, but the Sackett brothers worked to make the West a place where people could raise their children in peace. Orrin brought law and order from Santa Fe to Montana, and his brother Tye backed him up every step of the way. Till the day the job was done, Tye Sackett was the fastest gun alive.


Discussion Questions:

  • How is the West characterized in the opening chapters of Daybreakers?
  • How is Manifest Destiny characterized in the opening chapters of Daybreakers?
  • How is the hero characterized in the opening chapters of Daybreakers?  
  • What can we say about the way L'Amour negotiates literary categories (like Romanticism)?
  • What can we say about the way L'Amour negotiates regional categories?
    • What do we me by "negotiate"? 


Thinking Well in American Literature




Discussion Questions:

  • How do you apply that to this course?
  • How do you apply this to our reading of Daybreakers?  



Daybreakers and the Myth of the West


How does Louis L'Amour's Daybreaker participate in creating the myth of the West described in your article? 


Group Work: 

Our secondary text uses the term homo Americanus to describe the mythic American man generated by the West. Break into groups and use the chart to think through this concept.

    • What is the definition of the homo Americanus?
      • American man
      • Biological
      • supernatural
      • violent
      • knows land
      • possibly illiterate
      • builds community
      • regional culture  
    • How do we explain this concept?
    • How and where do we apply this concept?
    • Compare and contrast the definition of the homo Americanus with other men described in the text.
    • Evaluate the idea of a homo Americanus.
    • Develop a new viewpoint about the homo Americanus in The Daybreakers.  




How To Do A Close Reading


  • How compare to your method of reading when you read The Daybreakers?
  • How can you apply it in the future? 

Theodore Roosevelt: Fictions, Non-Fictions, and the Myth of the West


Today we looked at two speeches of Theodore Roosevelt. Unlike Louis L'Amour, Roosevelt was not writing fiction. He believed he was analyzing the "real world."


Group Work:

Break into groups and answer these questions from Roosevelt's speeches. 

  • How does Roosevelt describe the Westward movement of American.
    • What terms does he use?
      • What images to do these words create?
        • How do these images compare to those in The Daybreakers
          • What is the SIGNIFICANCE of this for the American Myth of the West (at the turn of the twentieth century)?


Notice, that as you move through these questions, you're moving DOWN the chart above. This is GREAT practice for the type of reading and THINKING you want to do in this class. If you could create a similar list of questions for your final paper, you would be half way there.   




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