A culture’s heritage and history are recorded in its literature. That is why, in order to understand any culture, learning its primary language is vital. After all, how can anybody understand any people without speaking their language?

Therefore, to familiarize yourself with American culture, you have to explore American literature. By doing so, you will be able to not only develop advanced insight into it but also come to appreciate the culture’s diversity and rich history.

In fact, this holds true for Americans and foreigners alike. If you are an American citizen who wants to learn more about their country’s history, studying its literature can be very helpful. You might already be familiar with it, but its literature will help you develop an advanced and technical grasp of it.

Conversely, if you are from anywhere else in the world, American literature can help you learn a lot about American culture in general. Moreover, US immigrants can also take advantage of the literature to overcome barriers and assimilate into American culture.

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A US flag under a cloudy sky
American culture is as diverse as it is complex. Studying American literature can be an excellent means to that end for anyone looking to learn more about it. (Source: Unsplash)

This is the reason many students enroll in American literature courses. It is a surefire means of learning American culture. Superprof’s American literature online courses have become especially popular in recent years because of their convenience and flexibility.

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How Does American Literature Helps You Learn About American Culture?

The US has produced some of the greatest authors and poets in the world. Countless recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature are American, and for a good reason. Iowa City has been recognized as a global hub for literature.

American literature is renowned for its creativity and ingenuity.

Read on to understand why studying American literature is useful for familiarizing yourself with its culture and society.

Feel The Culture

There are many ways to learn about a culture. For a start, you could simply read something that explores the culture directly – like an ethnography. But these academic books tend to be too technical with limited context.

On the other hand, you could watch an American movie, but that would be too superficial. Reading literature is arguably the best method of learning the culture because it allows you to feel and experience it.

A movie or TV series may show what kind of fashion people wear, the food they eat, and their daily routine. But a book will tell you why they wear what they wear, what the food tastes and feels like, and how they navigate through their daily routine.

Knowing that reasoning behind why American culture is the way it is, is what sets apart an advanced comprehension of a culture from a shallow one.

In fact, this difference is precisely why movie and TV show adaptations struggle to fully capture the breadth and depth of books. As such, only books will give you the ability to understand how an American thinks, rather than simply understand how they look.

Follow The History

A culture does not merely exist in the present. It is simultaneously an amalgamation of its past, which continues to exist alongside the present. Therefore, to understand today’s culture, you also have to be familiar with its history.

That is where literature becomes useful. American literature has produced epic stories throughout the decades. The War of Independence, The Civil War, the Great Depression, the World Wars, the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Hippie Revolution, and the technological revolution following World War II – all these significant milestones in the US history are covered by literature.

Authors spoke about Americans’ sentiments during these important periods in the nation’s history. They explained how the culture is evolving because of them and what America’s future might hold.

Knowing these historical developments will help you know why American culture is the way it is today. You will even be able to identify present-day tensions within it because you will know where they are rooted.

Appreciate The Diversity

American culture is far from a monolith. You will come across countless sub-cultures in America, from the East to the West Coast and everywhere in between. The South has its own unique culture, whereas Hawaii has its own.

Moreover, even within these different regions, you will find additional cultures. African-American authors have their own unique literary works that speak to their Black experience. The LGBT+ community has its own history and culture expressed in its literature. Veterans write about their experiences as military men and women fighting on behalf of the nation.

These different and divergent views will expose you to varied and contradictory cultures of America, giving you a complex understanding of them.

Even Americans can benefit a lot from reading American literature as it can expose them to other Americans who might have experienced differently from theirs.

A woman in a library reading a book
American literature is rich and diverse, producing some of the greatest authors and poets of all time. These literary geniuses have had a massive impact on US culture. (Source: Unsplash)

Who Are The Most Influential Authors Of American Literature?

Now that you are ready to start learning American literature, you might be confused about where to start. To help you along, we at Superprof have compiled this short list of the most legendary American authors for you to explore.

Name of AuthorYears AliveAbout
Mark Twain1835-1910Mark Twain is considered a legendary American author. His works capture 19th Century US life and thought.
Walt Whitman1819-1882Walt Whitman’s poetry is considered exceptional by critics for his masterful exploration of the Civil War.
Tennessee Williams1911-1983Tennessee Williams is considered one of the most prolific playwrights. Many of his scripts are now considered established classics.
Emily Dickinson1830-1886Emily Dickinson was largely unknown during her life. But her strong and resolute voice as a woman has now found widespread acclaim.
Francis Scott Fitzgerald1896-1940Famous for The Great Gatsby, Francis Scott Fitzgerald is known for capturing the interwar period exceptionally well. The roaring ‘20s are a prominent theme in them.
Toni Morrison1931-2019A recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, Toni Morrison is an acclaimed African-American author – known for her deep, vivid writing style.
Edgar Allan Poe1809-1849Edgar Allan Poe is considered to be the inventor of detective fiction. He is best known for his chilling and suspenseful writing style.
Stephen King1947-presentStephen King is a prolific author and widely acclaimed for his grasp of America’s cultural zeitgeist. He continues to publish more work today.
Stephen King’s Dead Zone
Stephen King has been a pioneer of American literature. His work not only captures the American zeitgeist but repeatedly informs it. Many of his characters have achieved a cult status. (Source: Unsplash)
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What Are The Ways Of Studying American Literature?

At this point, familiarizing yourself with American literature to learn more about what makes it unique is as easy as picking up a book. But if you want to enhance your experience, then consider these tips:

  • Join A Book Club – Cities across the US have several book clubs. You can join them and find a healthy community that shares your passion for American literature.
  • Online Resources – Sometimes, to truly appreciate a piece of literature, you have to refer to its analysis online. Fortunately, there are plenty of YouTube videos, academic articles, and reviews that will tell you more about the book. Superprof also provides its users with useful resources to this end.
  • Consider e-Books – Understandably, many people do not like reading e-Books. But with some practice and consistency, you will become accustomed to reading them. This will allow you to access more books from around the world far more easily and quickly.

But understandably, this is not as straightforward as this for everyone. Some people genuinely need some additional guidance to make sure they can truly understand the cultural cues embedded within American literature.

What Is Studying American Literature Like In College?

To gain more advanced insight into American literature – and subsequently know more about the culture – people choose to enroll in college.

Of course, college courses are an excellent way to study literature. American literature courses will allow you to explore literature, its history, linguistics, context, and impact on culture.

You will also become familiar with the life and histories of renowned American authors. Nonetheless, some people need additional assistance with their college American literature class. Fortunately, Superprof offers private tutor services for students looking for some additional guidance.

Want To Get American Literature Lessons Online With Superprof?

Many people around the world have an aching desire to learn more about American culture but also need some additional help. For that, they turn to American literature courses with Superprof.

Superprof is a leading provider of American literature lessons online. Our private tutors will give you the focus and attention you need to analyze texts and gain insights into American culture. Superprof’s American literature class will point out specific and historically-situated elements embedded within American literature.

As a result, you will be able to engage with and come to appreciate American literature in a whole new light.

Plus, these online American literature courses are far more accessible and flexible than enrolling in a college. Instead of committing to a fixed schedule and instructors, you will be able to select what time slot works for you as well as the teacher. This can be extremely helpful if you wish to learn more about American culture without disrupting your daily routine.

Now that you know why to study American literature, you should get in touch with Superprof to learn more about how we can help you. Contact us today to learn more!

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Ian

Ian Haynes is a digital marketing specialist and has successfully deployed over 500 pages of content as a ghostwriter for businesses of all sizes. He believes that for people to truly value your business and perceive it as a brand, your content needs to do much more than just inform, it needs to talk, engage, and convert. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.