As we transition from literature of the Puritan period to literature of the American Revolution, it is important for you to understand that history and its accompanying literature transition SLOWLY – the colonist did not simply wake up one day and realize ‘Hey, we’re in a new literary time period! Let’s change our writing style and beliefs overnight!’. We began to see the slow shift from theocratic colonies governed by religion to a more secular, democratic society with civil courts. Below you will find our notes from class outlining what exactly happened to transition the ideas of the Puritan period to the ideas of the Revolutionary period. Additionally, you will also find a complete list of ideas, concepts, beliefs and characteristics of the Revolutionary period that you may refer to throughout this unit.

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Common Beliefs

  1. Faith in natural goodness – a human is born without taint or sin
  2. Perfectibility of a human being – it is possible to improve situations of birth, economy, society, and religion
  3. The power of reason 
  4. The attitude of helping everyone
  5. Outdated social institutions cause unsociable behavior – religious, social, economic, and political institutions, which have not modernized, force individuals into unacceptable behavior (in response to the Great Awakening and the Salem Witch trials)

Functions of the Writers of this Period

  1. A searching inquiry in all aspects of the world around
  2. Interest in the classics as well as in the Bible
  3. Interest in nature
  4. Interest in science and scientific experiments
  5. Optimism – experiments in Utopian communities
  6. Sense of a person’s duty to succeed
  7. Constant search of the self – emphasis on individualism

 

(*note: the end of the above video covers Revolutionary literature)