Between the earlier literature
and the work of the eighteenth century it is clear that the letter and
the sermon are two distinct genres of early American writing. The letter
establishes an intimacy between the writer and the reader, while the
sermon (and we can view Thomas Paine’s work as a sermon, of a sort, and
certainly the work of David Walker) is meant to bring a large population
into a shared communal experience.
Consider the pieces included
in “Letters between John and Abigail Adams” and then the sermon-like
works of Paine and Walker. Find specific phrases the authors are using
to establish trust with their intended audience. How do these passages
help establish a connection?
Next, it is recognized in the
introduction to Benjamin Franklin’s work that he “is, on the one hand,
the embodiment of the Age of Reason, and yet, on the other hand, he is
decidedly modern, a masterfully agile performer of parts who (in the
words of one critic) ‘envisaged the process of what might be called
self-creation as the conscious playing of a series of calculated roles’”
(293). The Autobiography is also widely recognized as the first great American prose narrative.
of the elements of the work’s greatness is exemplified by specific
storytelling techniques. Of these techniques, we see Franklin organizes
his writing partially in the letter-form. Consider the tone of The Autobiography
and the thoughts in “Benjamin Franklin Slept Here.” What does omission
of certain details do to the story itself? Does it make it less true?
Why or why not?
Finally, in your opinion, which of the three forms
studied in this discussion post (letters, sermons, autobiographical
narratives) is the most effective and why?
Your initial post
should be at least 300 words in length. Support your claims with
examples from required material(s) and/or other scholarly resources, and
properly cite any references.