Beginnings of the American Literary Tradition:
Characteristics of American Literature during the Seventeenth Century
Purposes of Early American Writing
Unit Essential Question:
How did the earliest American writers view America?
How did the earliest American writers view the settler's difficulties in surviving a new land?
Essential Skill or Concept:
Students will watch and listen to Great American Bestsellers: The Bay Psalm Book.
Students will discuss the significance of The Bay Psalm Book in the lives of the Puritans.
A. The teacher will present on DVD Great American Bestsellers: The Bay Psalm Book.
The Bay Psalm Book: "This humble and well-worn hymnal was printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Stephen Daye, first printer of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is the very first book printed in what is now the United States. Known as The Bay Psalm Book, but really titled The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre, it represents what was most sacred to the Puritans--a faithful translation of God's Word, to be sung in worship by the entire congregation. Other Protestant denominations relied on selected paraphrases of the Scripture, but the Puritans believed this could compromise their salvation. The same faith that compelled them to leave England and strike out for the New World prompted them to commit this text to print before all others" (Library of Congress)B. Students will view the video and be able to discuss the following:
- The Bay Psalm Book as the first printed book in the English-speaking New World and as its first bestseller (readership relative to population)
- History of the Puritans in the New World
- The significance of the Reformation to the Puritans
- The Puritans' response to the publishing of the King James Version of the Bible in 1611
- Purpose and the duration of The Bay Psalm Book.
C. With the teacher, students will discuss their assigned reading from the text: Jonathan Edwards (on page 39) and two of this writings - "Sarah Pierrepont" (page 40) and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (pages 41 - 43).
D. Homework for Term 1, Week Four, Day Five: Students will read "The Plain Style and the Ornate Style," pages 24 - 25, in the text.