Why Is It Important to Study the History of English American Literature?

The study of English American Literature is an integral part of understanding the cultural and literary heritage of the United States. It provides insight into the social, political, and economic factors that have shaped the country’s history.

The study of literature can be both informative and enjoyable, offering a window into different worlds and experiences. In this article, we will discuss why it is important to study the history of English American Literature.

Understanding Cultural Influences

English American Literature has been influenced by various cultural movements throughout history. From the colonial period to modern times, writers have explored themes such as race, gender, class, and identity. Studying these works can offer insight into how these themes have evolved over time, reflecting changes in society.

For example: In Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, published in 1852, she addressed the issue of slavery in America. Her work was instrumental in shaping public opinion on slavery and ultimately contributed to its abolition.

Exploring Literary Styles

American literature has a diverse range of styles that reflect different periods in history. For instance, writers during the Romantic period explored nature and individualism while modernist writers experimented with form and language.

For example: F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, is a classic example of modernist literature that explores themes such as disillusionment and excess during the Jazz Age.

Gaining Historical Insight

Studying English American Literature can provide valuable historical insight into different periods in American history. It gives us a glimpse into what life was like during different eras and how people thought about social issues.

For example: In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, he explored the Puritanical society of colonial America and its strict moral codes.

Appreciating Literary Tradition

Literary tradition is an important aspect of English American Literature. Studying this tradition allows us to appreciate the works of writers who have come before us, understand their influence on contemporary literature, and explore the evolution of literary styles.

For example: William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, published in 1929, is a modernist masterpiece that reflects a continuation of literary tradition established by writers such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.


In conclusion, studying the history of English American Literature is essential to understanding the cultural heritage and literary tradition of the United States. It offers valuable insights into different periods in history, explores various themes that are relevant even today, and provides a window into different worlds and experiences. By studying these works, we can appreciate the artistry and beauty of literature while gaining historical perspective on our world.