Books: Anthologies Pt. 2

Well, you’re here, so I guess you actually want to know more about these anthologies. They really are great starting points in familiarizing yourself with genres of literature.

In this post I’m covering three anthologies:
The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol. A Colonial Period to 1800
The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Vol. B Early Nineteenth Century: 1800-1865
Anthology of American Literature
(which covers late nineteenth through twentieth centuries)

I will be honest, the Heath anthologies listed above are my least favorite because they are associated with my least favorite undergrad course. However, some of the content is really good. In particular, I enjoyed the section on Native American Oral Literature in Volume A. The section covers oral narratives from the Zuni, Navajo, Lakota, Seneca, Iroquois, Tlingit, Hitchiti, and Yuchi tribes as well as Zuni, Aztec, and Inuit oral poetry.

The first portion of Volume A, COLONIAL PERIOD:TO 1800 is organized mainly by geographical region, listing authors then their works. The second part, EIGHTEENTH CENTURY, is organized by topic. Some authors have one or two included writings while others, like Thomas Morton, William Bradford, and Hannah Webster Foster, have ten or more.

The included sections are:
Native American Oral Literatures
Native American Oral Narrative
Native American Oral Poetry
Cluster: American in the European Imagination
New Spain
Cluster: Cultural Encounters—A Critical Survey
New France
New England
A Sheaf of Seventeenth Century Anglo-American Poetry
Settlement and Religion
Cluster: On Nature and Nature’s God
A Sheaf of Eighteenth-Century Anglo-American Poetry
Voices of Revolution and Nationalism
Cluster: On the Discourse of Liberty
Contested Visions, American Voices

The literature in Volume A consists of many different forms of writing—including songs, letters, journal entries, book chapters, poems, Psalms, and book prologues, just to name a few. The topics of individual pieces vary as greatly as the authors themselves, and there is something for everyone. It’s a great way to get acquainted with literature of the past.

Volume B is set up very similarly to Volume A, and covers the early nineteenth century from 1800 to 1865.

Native America
Spanish America
The Cultures of New England
Race, Slavery, and the Invention of the “South”
Literature and the “Woman Question”
The Development of Narrative
Cluster: Humor of the Old Southwest
The Emergence of American Poetic Voices (Emily Dickinson is the most extensively covered author in this section; Walt Whitman is second.)

Again, this volume consists of a variety of literary content—letters, poems, stories, essays, presidential addresses (Lincoln), and even entire books (like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter).

There are great perspectives hidden within the pages of both volumes A and B of The Heath Anthology of American Literature, and despite my initial experience with being introduced to this literature, I find value in the works represented.


Now the Anthology of American LIterature (I know, the names are all so similar) is about the size of the two Heath volumes combined and covers literature from the late nineteenth century as well as the twentieth century. There are large sections of works by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson in this anthology as well.

There are three sections that contain the literary works themselves:
The Literature of the Late Nineteenth Century
Reading the Historical Context
Reading the Critical Context
The Literature of the Late Nineteenth Century
The Literature of the Twentieth Century (1900-1945)
Reading the Historical Context
Reading the Critical Context
The Literature of the Twentieth Century
The Literature of the Twentieth Century (1945-Present [“present” being circa 2007 when this edition was published])
Reading the Historical Context
The Literature of the Twentieth Century

Following the sections that contain literary works are:
Reference Works, Bibliographies
Criticism, Literary and Cultural History
Index to Authors, Titles, and First Lines

Some of the authors included under the “Nineteenth Century” heading are Albion Tourgée, William Dean Howells, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Bret Harte, George Washington Cable, Charles Waddell Chesnutt, Henry James,  and Theodore Dreiser.

Some authors included under the “1900-1945” heading are Henry Adams, T.S. Eliot, O. Henry (William Sydney Porter), Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, Carl Sandburg, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, Robert Frost, Sherwood Anderson, E.E. Cummings, and Marianne Moore.

And under “1945 to Present” there’s Martin Luther King, Jr. with his “I Have a Dream” speech, Tim O’Brien, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, James Baldwin, Tillie Olsen, Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Kurt Vonnegut, Toni Morrison, Billy Collins, and Sherman Alexie.


Together, these three anthologies cover literature from the seventeenth century to the twentieth century. Each of them contain works that are interesting as well as some that are a little dull to be honest. However, because tastes in literature differ as much as people on the planet, you’re bound to find something that intrigues you.

In my next post I will discuss two of Norton’s anthologies. The first is The Norton Anthology of English Literature, and the second is The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. After that we’ll get into some multicultural anthologies, a little Shakespeare, and two issues of a small student publication. In total, there will be about seven parts to Books: Anthologies, and then we can dive into my collection of individual titles.

Hang out with me, take a break, come back, send me a message.

As always,

Happy Reading!



Oh! Before I forget, I will try to put up some of my personal stuff soon. 🙂