Northeastern American Identity in Literature Analysis

Historical Background

(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Many critics contend that early Northeast literature might more aptly be called English literature in America. There is truth in that contention, but even at the nation’s beginning there were differences between British and American writing. Religion, specifically Calvinist doctrine, was an important factor in the nation’s founding and has thus been reflected in American writing from colonial times onward. When the eighteenth century began, however, the native European Americans had become more secularized than their Puritan predecessors, and concepts of individual self-reliance, idealism, and the natural beauty of the land had taken firm hold in life and literature. The spirit of that period is best recognized in the writing of Benjamin Franklin, Philip Freneau, and Charles Brockden Brown.