Explain what it means to create America, and how this meaning emerges in period literature.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If the question is regarding how America's meaning is created through literature, I think a bit more clarification would be needed.  Although a young country in comparison to others on  the world stage, there have been some significant moments in its intellectual history that have played formative roles in its definition.  I would think that one such literary period would be the Transcendentalist movement, where America began to become conscious of its own sense of being in the world and started the process of articulating a vision of what America can be and contrasting it to what it was at the time.  Thinkers like Emerson's stress on non- conformity and self reliance, and embracing the notion of individual dreams did much to help form a meaning to America.  His colleague, Thoreau, proved the idea that American identity is strongly linked to action and the desire to demonstrate a moral capacity which embraces "the good, the true, and the beautiful," helped to open many eyes of the time.  Thoreau's belief and authentic grasp of the sense of self is quite powerful and one that helped to give much in way of definition of American notions of the good.  The relationship with natural settings and the land, in general, can be seen in the works of Cooper and Irving, while the surveying of a deeply embedded intellectual view of emotions are evident in the works of Melville and Hawthorne.  Whitman's vision of democracy being synonymous with diversity, dreams, and defining frontiers became inextricably linked with America and its meaning.  These examples would go very far in proving how the meaning of America is enhanced and can emerge through literature.