Conditions of Use
The text offers a good variety of readings that are typical of any early American Lit. textbook. I appreciate that the editors include several early Native American creation stories. In addition to these, I would have liked to have seen some of... read more
The text offers a good variety of readings that are typical of any early American Lit. textbook. I appreciate that the editors include several early Native American creation stories. In addition to these, I would have liked to have seen some of the early Native American poetry and songs as well. The editors introduce each new section with a short narrative and offer source notes at the end of each selection. Pictures and illustrations are decent quality; I was able to enlarge most of the maps (I'm using the .pdf format of the text), but the map associated with "Introduction to Literature of Colonial America" on p. 124 was blurry and not readable past about 150% enlargement. I agree with some of the other reviewers about the lack of women writers; however, this is a problem I've encountered with nearly every anthology published today. I don't expect a survey course textbook to include every piece of literature ever written, so I simply supplement these readings in my classes.
The text seems to be accurate, but as I mention earlier, the instructor using this textbook will need to supplement the readings to include works by non-white male writers. Translations of some of the texts are different from those I've used in my classes, but that's a matter of personal preference. I am puzzled, however, by the change in font size in some of the writings. For example, on page 26, the "Letter of Discovery (1493)" by Christopher Columbus begins with one font size then changes to a larger one about halfway through the page. It then goes back to a smaller font size on page 29. Is there a reason for this? Things like this would have rarely caught my attention in the past. More recently, however, we have been moving toward using documents that are accessibility approved. Serif fonts, like the one used in this textbook, don't meet the accessibility requirements of our college and would have to be reformatted. Since this is an OER, it could probably be done by converting the .pdf into an editable form, but that takes a lot of time and effort. As for the introductions, the authors keep them sparse and convey only basic facts about each writer. Although they don't cover every aspect of each writer's life, they also don't confer any biases or opinions. It leaves plenty of room for students to explore the writers and come up with their own opinions about them. It's an opportunity for a teaching exercise.
The bare bones nature of the introductions means that the textbook will not become obsolete in the near future. They contain just the facts. If the textbook is ever updated, I would like to see a greater variety of writers represented. While the old standby writers should remain, other lesser-known writers could be included such Mercy Otis Warren, Susanna Rowson, Hannah Bond (Crafts), and perhaps others. I would also like to see a visual timeline that includes dates, major milestone events, and the writers associated with those dates.
My comments on clarity are less about the content and more about the aesthetics of the text. I am reading the .pdf version of the textbook, so that may have something to do with the aforementioned font changes and blurry images. An at the end of the textbook, an index of authors and works would be helpful as well as a glossary of terms.
The content of the textbook is consistent. The typeface is not.
The textbook is divided into periods in early American history, and each period is arranged sequentially. There are roughly the same number of readings for each period. The editors also indicate the citation for each reading so that the instructor and the students can easily refer to the original source material.
The sections and the writings within them are are arranged logically and in sequential order. Since there is no index, the students will need to rely on the Table of Contents to locate authors and readings or the ctrl+find option on their computers.
I had issues with font changes and blurred map images in my .pdf version of the text. The Table of Contents could be formatted differently to make it more readable. The listing of all of the readings seem to run together even though the parts are labeled. Visually, the section headings don't stand out very well. As an electronic source, though, students can use the "find" option on their computer to locate specific readings or authors.
I did not see any grammatical errors.
The authors are presented in the introductions using factual information about their lives and their works. I did not notice any glaring biases in any of the editors' comments in the introductions.
For an OER textbook, this American Literature 1 anthology has met my expectations. There has obviously been a tremendous amount of work that went into putting this textbook together. For all its flaws of omission, it's a textbook that's worthy of reviewing as an alternative to the outrageously expensive printed anothologies we have all had to rely on in the past. My students balk at the price of our textbooks and some have had to resort to borrowing other students' books or searching the internet for the individual writings. I don't want cost to be a barrier to their learning, and this textbook is a viable option.
The book doesn't cover key aspects of American Literature, including sufficient representation of slave narratives, black writers, and women writers. I was surprised there were more Native American writers presented than I would have expected. read more
The book doesn't cover key aspects of American Literature, including sufficient representation of slave narratives, black writers, and women writers. I was surprised there were more Native American writers presented than I would have expected.
The text doesn't offer diverse voices and perspectives in early American Literature, thus it is biased towards white male writers seen as "traditional." For example, I noted an absence of slave narratives by Douglass or Jacobs; lack of women writers and black women writers such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman or Ida B. Wells.
The text could be implemented so long as there are supplemental texts and links to represent other writers such as black writers and women writers; however, it might present to students that the anthology is the "canon" and the supplemental links are just "Add-ons" and appear to have less value.
No issues with clarity.
No issues. The editors might consider other headers and writers or periods in addition.
There should be more discussion and a longer section for slavery, esp. given the importance and impact and traumas of American slavery on early American literature.
No issues with interface.
The text needs to represent diverse cultural voices and experiences, and include more background information on writers, themes, literary reception, cultural aspects; for example, there is not sufficient discussion of Native American myths in the introductory note.
This text covers all of the major literary movements that you would find in an Am Lit 1 course well. I like that this text includes Native American oral tales and literature of the European explorers in the beginning. Many anthologies skip... read more
This text covers all of the major literary movements that you would find in an Am Lit 1 course well. I like that this text includes Native American oral tales and literature of the European explorers in the beginning. Many anthologies skip right over these. So, it's nice to have them available. "Day of Doom" is missing, but I'm not surprised at this. Many anthologies forget to include Wigglesworth for some reason, even though it is a significant text that should be included. Each section begins with an introduction, which is good. Those cover the big picture elements, which frees teachers up to provide more in depth explanations. Otherwise, the texts that are included sufficiently cover the breadth and depth of what would be covered in an Am Lit 1 course.
The text offers a wide range of standard authors to choose from as well as some tertiary authors who might be of interest. This gives teachers options, which is good. Again, though, "Day of Doom" is missing. Also, technically, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" should be in the "Literature of the Revolutionary Period" due to when it was published, but I understand why it is not. It makes more sense for it to be at the end of the "Literature of Colonial America" section, although not entirely accurate. The accuracy of this text is reliable.
Since this anthology deals with historical texts, obsolescence really doesn't apply here. The only thing that I could think of that might be an issue is the lack of texts from each time period from people of color. That doesn't necessarily make the text irrelevant, but not as complete as it could be. The major authors are included, so the text does it's job. I think if you are teaching with a free text, it's assumed that teachers will have to fill in some gaps if thematically appropriate for individual courses.
The historical authors' texts are what they are, so clarity is not an issue there. That leaves the introductory sections written by editors. Those introductions are written clearly, not over complicating the historical background with combined ideas and events. The language is accessible for student readers. Paragraphs are broken up to be reader friendly. Those sections even contain visuals when needed, like maps, to help students visualize necessary information.
The text is broken up into logical sections with appropriate titles. The predictable organization is expected from an anthology. Each section begins with an introduction, and then each section contains the readings. Easy peasy.
The text is divided into organized sections appropriate for the time periods. It's easy to locate texts and understand the historical continuum.
The text is divided into organized sections appropriate for the time periods. It's easy to locate texts and understand the historical continuum.
Interface may seem like a no-brainer, but I've read/used textbooks that are unnecessarily complicated to navigate. The textbook pages are not clear, and you have to scroll, scroll, scroll to find what you want. The .pdf version of this textbook is standard. The table of contents on the side bar makes it easy to find what you want quickly. I appreciate that since I've encountered texts that aren't so user friendly.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. Although, as I mentioned earlier, there is a lack of texts from people of color. This is a tough call, though, for editors since including more authors has the possibility of making the anthology too wieldy. I've seen textbooks do this successfully, so I know it can be done. It's not a small task, though, and should be done with care.
I like this textbook because it does what it is supposed to do: clearly organize the literary time periods and include introductions to those periods and introduce the authors within them, cover the major authors you would find in an Am Lit 1 course, and make it easy to navigate. Teachers will have to enhance the readings with more in depth explanations, but that is expected. I recommend this textbook because it is comprehensive, clearly organized, and reliable.
The anthology provides a sample of genres and voices over the periods that formed and established a new country. The six chapters focus on thoughts that were influential at the time rather than on the players. Some voices that are surveyed in high... read more
The anthology provides a sample of genres and voices over the periods that formed and established a new country. The six chapters focus on thoughts that were influential at the time rather than on the players. Some voices that are surveyed in high school and read widely in college courses (namely Frederick Douglass) from different political and social movements that were parallel to the surveyed literature are not included here. This is an introduction to Early American Literature. It it not an all-inclusive anthology. There is a sampling of voices from different cultural backgrounds and viewpoints.
There are different viewpoints from the eras represented. The creation story, How the World Was Made (Cherokee) can be easily compared to the onslaught of European colonists that came in the 1500-1600s, and their justification for immigrating. John Winthrop, in his essay A Modell of Christian Charitie (1630), was written on the ship from England to colonial America, justifying why it’s right, good, and God’s will for him and other religious peoples to immigrate to the colony. In a letter, echoing Frederick Douglass’s dissent and disbelief, Phillis Wheatly’s Letter to Rev. Samson Occom (1774) is framed in ridicule as she acknowledges the hypocrisy of the American term “freedom.” Her viewpoint does not capture the rage of Douglass, but it is no less important in recognizing and voicing the chasm between Winthrop’s “brotherly love” and the ongoing existence of slavery. There is accuracy here for an introductory survey course in Early American literature. The book represents different viewpoints that students can access in a first year college course, though readers will find voices missing.
Because the text is entirely filled with primary sources, the content is relevant. I would use this book as a representation of thought in a period of time in American history. There are voices missing, but as with all textbooks, supplementing gives direction and depth to a course.
The author’s prose is accessible and easily understood for a first year literature course student.
The framework was confusing to me. The titles of the six sections reflect periods in history, but internally, most of the organization is by authors’ births. The subheadings for social periods within the history could be highlighted in some way, i.e., indented or additional subheadings. For example, in Chapter 1: Literature of Exploration and Discovery, the first section is Native American Accounts and the second section is European Exploration Accounts. It’s easy to understand that these are comparing and contrasting viewpoints. In Chapter 5: Literature of the Romantic Era, there is the introduction of the period, then the introductions of different authors follow. But then, there is an introduction to Women and the Cult of Domesticity, but without the introduction to the single author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Edgar Alan Poe has eight short stories included but no reference as to why he is important to American literature, while in his introduction, John Winthrop’s move to American is important because his colony became “New England’s chief colony.”
The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader. The bulk of the text are primary documents, so the modality is sectioned into the original print format: large chunks of text and archaic sentence styles. I want this when reading a primary document.
My adult basic ed students and first year writing students would find the organization of the book confusing at first sight, but this would be due to the Table of Contents. On the title page, the Table of Contents has clear organization, but when Contents is open while document is open, too, there is no delineation between headings. All listings look the same with no visual difference. I had to use the numbers on the Table of Contents to move back and forth between texts. The titles of the six sections which are arranged in chronological order, are presented in logical, clear fashion.
There are no interface issues. The pictures of authors are the only images.
I didn't see gammatical erros. The primary texts have archaic language, but this is necessary for purpose of the book.
The texts included in the anthology of dominant beliefs and genres of the periods represented. Essays anchored in religious beliefs are found in the birth of a nation as religious sects immigrated to find religious freedom, while poetry and short stories appear more frequently as the country becomes richer and more free time is had for leisure and for defining who we are as a nation, separate from other countries, through literature. The text represents the dominant culture in the U.S. during the times included. More diverse and underrepresented voices, cultures, and beliefs could be added to represent the times we live in today as we search for a common history. Again, if I was using this text, supplements would need to be used to give depth and meaning in today’s classroom.
I teach adult basic education, developmental education, intensive ESL, and first year writing courses. I would use the book for examples of primary resources to analyze for social studies and augment a review of the Charter Documents. I could also use this for more advanced classes as a compare and contrast base for argumentative essays, but I would not as a whole book for the type of classes I teach.
A number of important works are missing from this anthology. There is very little coverage of slavery or the abolition movement, the primary social reform of the 19th century. There are no black writers cover in the section "Literature of 19th... read more
A number of important works are missing from this anthology. There is very little coverage of slavery or the abolition movement, the primary social reform of the 19th century. There are no black writers cover in the section "Literature of 19th Century Reform"; only white writers are represented. None of the major African-American writers are included -- Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, William Wells Brown, Harriet Wilson. There is no discussion of the fugitive slave narrative or of the abolition movement. Uncle Tom's Cab in is omitted. There is no discussion of the women's movement of the 19th century and no novels by women from the 1850s. The only Black writers I see here are Equiano, Sojourner Truth, and Wheatley. In addition, sections on Wheatley, Paine, and Jefferson are problematic. The introductions are often simple biography and do not include some of the issues and controversies surrounding each writer. This is especially true of Phillis Wheatley and Thomas Jefferson. In order to better understand the religious evolution of American, "A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom" or his letter to Danbury should have been included and the introduction to Jefferson should have included the controversy surrounding Jefferson and race. "Laws" from NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA should have been included here because it offers Jefferson's views on race. Also regarding religion, an excerpt from Paine's AGE OF REASON should have been included. This anthology does a better job with American Indian writers from the first unit to Schoolcraft and Apess later. Finally, Whitman and Dickinson are included in the last section on social reform. They should have been included in a new section on romantic poetry.
The content provided is accurate but there are problems with omission. The introductions provide basic biographical material. For example, the introduction to Thomas Jefferson includes none of the controversies involving Jefferson and race/slavery.
This anthology omits many important African-American writers. It includes many women writers and American Indian writers. The updates that will be necessary are substantial, not only in terms of writers and works included (see above), but also in terms of introductory information. There need to be introductions on American Indian myths, slavery, the abolition movement, the women's movement and romantic poetry. Then introduction to the romantic movement needs substantial revision as it is very brief.
The anthology is clear and includes some notes. The notes are uneven, however. For example, there are notes for Emerson's "Self-Reliance" but not for the Iroquois "Creation Story," which includes an introduction but does not include any information about creation stories or Indian myths.
The text is consistent in terms of terminology but it needed more terminology and concepts explained.
I had real problems with the modules. I would have revised and added new modules. The consecutive numbering of chapters was also problematic. There are six units but no subheadings and because of the issues with organization (see below), the writers and literary texts cannot be easily reorganized or realigned using a different criteria for modules such as a thematic set of modules.
I found the organization of this anthology very difficult to follow. 1. Each unit (there are six) needed to include sub-sections as well as writers and readings under each sub-section. Each writer needed to then have her/his own subsection including the introduction and the readings. This makes it so much easier to read. So for example, Literature of Exploration and Discovery Native American Literature Introduction Creation Stories Iroquois Introduction "Creation Story" 2. I also found the way in which units were created to be problematic. For example, Whitman and Dickinson are included on the last unit on reform; neither writer was actively involved in reform. They should have appeared in a different unit on romantic poetry. This unit also includes a poem by Longfellow that has to do with his youth rather than with reform, so it is also misplaced. All of the poets should appear in a separate unit that should discuss poetry differently and which would also distinguish poetry from the first half of the 1i9th century from Whitman, who revolutionized American poetry. Some of these differences are discussed in the introduction to Whitman, but there needs to be a unit that focuses on poetry as a whole, especially given that students have more difficulty with poetry than with most other genres. This was clearly the most problematic unit. It included non-reform literature with reform literature, but it was not comprehensive and did not mention slavery, abolition, and women's rights as movements explicitly; rather this information was buried in introductory notes to individual writers.
There are interface issues on every page. "Powered by Pressbooks" appears in the middle of each text and "share this book" and OER license information also appears in the middle of some texts. Some texts also suffer from interface issues under the "Source" section.
I did not see any writing, spelling, sentence structure or other grammatical issues in this anthology. I thought the writing was clear and direct.
As I have explained in several sections of this review, there is a lack of coverage of African-American writers and texts and a lack of coverage of social movements and literary movements that were important to women and Black writers of the 19th century. There is no attention paid to how marginal groups including American Indians, women, and African-Americans were perceived. There is no discussion of racism or sexism, which are important to understanding the many of these texts by both white writers and people of color as well as men and women. There is no discussion of how early explorers viewed the indigenous population they encountered; this material would provide a cultural context for readings and would thus help both faculty and students better understand the literature. Likewise, there is no discussion of slavery or racism for both white and black writers, which, again, is crucial to understanding these texts. For example, Thomas Jefferson mentions Phillis Wheatley by name in NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA. That chapter should have been included but information about race should also have been included in their respective introductions. Another example regards the women's movement and Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Declaration of Sentiments." She mentions the Seneca Falls convention in the introduction to Stanton but includes no section on the rise of women writers (or domestic fiction) in the 19th century, the sexist perceptions of women that were prevalent at the time, or the lack of women's rights. There is no discussion of the rise of African-American novel. All of these materials are to be expected in a 21st century American literature anthology.
I would not use this anthology in my ENG 241 course. It is simply too limited and omits too many writers and literary works.
Table of Contents
- I. Literature of Exploration and Discovery
- II. Literature of Colonial America
- III. Literature of the Revolutionary Period
- IV. Literature of the New Nation
- V. Literature of the Romantic Era
- VI. Literature of Nineteenth Century Reform
About the Book
This book offers an anthology of texts that includes letters, journals, poetry, newspaper articles, pamphlets, sermons, narratives, and short fiction written in and about America beginning with collected oral stories from Native American tribes and ending with the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Many major and minor authors are included, providing a sampling of the different styles, topics, cultures, and concerns present during the formation and development of America through the mid-nineteenth century.
About the Contributors
Jenifer Kurtz, Virginia Western Community College