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A vivid snapshot of America's kaleidoscopic literary tradition, A Journey Through American Literature illuminates the authors, works, and events that have shaped our cultural heritage. Kevin J. Hayes charts this history through a series of approachable thematic chapters--Narrative Voice and the Short Story, the Drama of the Everyday, the Great American Novel--that reveal the richness of our literature while providing a compelling set of footholds with which to engage it. Among the topics covered are the role of travel and the symbolism of geography, characters and the importance of voice and dialect, self-definition and the American dream, new beginnings, and the role of memory. Hayes not only discusses the main canonical genres like poetry, drama, and the novel, but also looks at travel writing, autobiography, and frame tales. Key writers like Mark Twain, Ralph Ellison, Emily Dickinson, and Harriet Jacobs are central players in the drama while dozens more create a backdrop that gives this history depth. The book also features over 20 illustrations, a bibliography, and a chronology listing the key events and work in America's literary history.