Six Critical Periods
Inter-American literary study is an exciting and fast-growing area of comparative scholarship. The Americas are tied together by a common historical heritage and by a history of social, political, economic, and cultural interaction.
As a contribution to this field, this book brings together the literatures and literary histories of English and French Canada, the United States, Spanish America, the Caribbean, and Brazil. The periods focused on include the Colonial Period, the Nineteenth Century, Modernism and Modernity, the 1960s, and the Contemporary Moment. The author contrasts the different European heritages that were brought to the New World. In addition, the literature and culture of Native America is referred to in each of these sections that will be of use to the reader interested in this important topic, which we can rightly think of as the common denominator of all American literature.
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The purpose of this book is to examine five crucial periods in the development of inter-American literature: Our respective Colonial Eras; the Nineteenth Century; Modernism and Modernity; the 1960s; and the Contemporary Period. An additional, and preliminary, chapter deals with the key social, political, and historical differences that existed between the four European nations most involved in the conquest of the Americas (Spain, Portugal, France, and England) between 1492 and 1607 and how these differences would affect the manner in which the New World colonies of these same nations would take root and develop. My contention here is that we cannot understand what happens in colonial America (understood in its full hemispheric sense) until we first understand what is happening in Spain, Portugal, and France in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century as well as what is happening in early seventeenth century England, which, by this time, is acting largely in response to what its European competitors are doing. Indeed, the English approach to New World colonization was, in the beginning, “heavily influenced” by the Spanish model, which, in Europe, was everywhere regarded as very successful (Acemoglu and Robinson 20; see also 21; 22; 25). The Spanish experience in the New World, involving multiple encounters with indigenous civilizations of great sophistication and power, the exploration of vast (and vastly different) geographical areas, and the acquisition of astonishing quantities of gold and silver, was the prototype. Less productive of mineral wealth, the...
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