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Differences between English Literature and American Literature

Q. Differences between English Literature and American Literature

English Literature and American Literature - Differences

Since English literature and American literature play an important role where the term literature is concerned, identifying the differences between English literature and American literature is essential for students of literature.

As you already know, literature includes various types of written works, especially those with eternal artistic value and is not limited to a specific geographical area, yet it spreads to almost every country. For instance, literary works written in France are called French Literature while those literary works written in India are called Indian Literature. So literature is not limited to any particular country. The spread of literature is all over the world.

    Although literature differs from one country to another, the outcome of studying literature is the same in that it makes you a critical thinker; the literature of every country has a distinct characteristic which is essential for the growth of one's character and personality.

    Our topic is to explore the specific differences between English literature and American literature. Before we begin we need to remember that at a time when America was a British colony, both terms had the same meaning. By the early 17th century when America was no longer a British colony, its meaning began to diverge and literary works only blossomed.

    πŸ‘‰ What is English Literature?

    English Literature alludes to the variety of artistic works written in England and its settlements from the 7th century to the present day. As may be evident, it has a rich and much-loved history where it is chronologically classified into different eras: Old English Literature (c.658-1100), Middle English Literature (1100-1500), English Renaissance (1500-1660), Neo-classical period (1660-1798), 19th century literature, English literature since 1901 including modern, postmodern and 20th century literature.

    Among the many writers from different parts of the English-speaking world who have contributed immensely to the development of English literature are William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charlotte BrontΓ«, Virginia Woolf, William Wordsworth, W.B. Keats, Robert Frost etc.

    Since literature is a representation of writers' expression of life in their socio-economic background, any type of literature portrays a particular culture. English literature, in all its forms, genres and styles, reflects British culture. Among the best-known features of English literature are its emphasis on wit, manners, class distinctions, themes, plot, and characterization.

    πŸ‘‰ What is American Literature?

    Comparatively, American literature is a concept that originated in the recent past. It is the production of literary works written in an American context that depict American culture and themes. America, being originally a British colony, was part of English literature until the country gained independence and every aspect of the country: economy, education, literature, art, culture and social aspects changed and new brands were born.

    American Literature has started its literary journey from the mid-17th century. American literature is largely shaped by the country's history, and revolutionary ideas emerged during the Civil and Revolutionary Wars.

    πŸ‘‰ English Literature and American Literature - Differences

    • Literary works written and published in Great Britain and British colonies are referred to by the term English literature while American literature refers to literary works written and published in America.

    • English Literature is written in English originated in Britain while American Literature is written in American English.

    • English literature mainly reflects English culture, English customs while American literature reflects American culture, its history and revolutionary ideas such as church, relationship with state, supernatural elements emerging in the country, for example, the Massachusetts War.

    • English Literature started its journey very early before the dawn of American Literature.

    • American literature is often known for being much more realistic in its portrayal of characters while English literature is known for its wit and depiction of themes in plot and characterization.


    Judging by the above distinct and subtle differences, it is understandable that English literature and American literature are two different concepts even though American literature was once a part of English literature.


    Read also: πŸ”Ž

    πŸ‘‰ Anglo-Saxon Elegy

    πŸ‘‰ Middle English Alliterative Poetry

    πŸ‘‰ The Effects of the French Revolution

    πŸ‘‰ Greek Gods and Goddesses

    πŸ‘‰ Elizabethan Lyrics and Sonnets

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