Southwestern Humor.

Essay by imthatonegirl86High School, 11th gradeA+, December 2003

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The literary movement that gave birth to long-lasting American characters and attitudes was "Southwestern Humor," which is a tradition of regional sketches and tales based in the "old South-West" that included Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. This movement took place during the mid-to-late 1800s from about 1830 - 1860, during the Jacksonian Age, when the frontier was being settled by thousands of European pioneers who were flooding into the West. Since people were beginning to think of themselves as uniquely Americans, this literary style came during the birth of national self-consciousness. Writers in the Southwestern Humor tradition emphasized distinctively American types of characters. Southwestern humor hit its peak of success in the 1830's and 40's, acting as voice against Andrew Jackson during the Great Age of Democracy. Southwestern humorists acted against this movement. The humorists would often use Jackson as a model for their characters. The colorful characters of Southwestern Humor solidified the stereotypes that have remained until the present day.

As a literary genre, Southwestern humor was important to the growth of United States History and American Literature because it affected the way Americans thought about themselves, reflected how people thought about Jacksonian Democracy, and created a unique form of writing that has influenced not only the "Local Color" movement, but modern writers such as William Faulkner.

After the Revolutionary War in 1783, American writers were greatly influenced by British writing. Some writers, such as John Barlow wrote epic and mock epic poetry similar to the writings of John Milton and Alexander Pope. Washington Irving's The Sketchbook, which

included "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," was a landmark accomplishment in the history of American Literature. The next important development in truly American Literature came with James Fennimore Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales." These works were important because they...