This lecture will provide a survey of American literature from the colonial period until today. We will look at the way that the particular history of North America continually shaped its literature, from the religious writings of the early settlers and the revolutionary writings that led up to independence through the increasingly successful attempts at finding a genuinely American literary voice, and all the way to the ethnic and aesthetic diversifications that particularly mark the 20th century. The aim is to help students put individual texts into a larger context.