Understanding the history of the era in which an author lived or in which a piece of literature was written will often give you better insight into that literature's meaning, symbolism, and themes.
To gain quick insight into the events and themes of eras in American History, utilize the "American Decades" series using the link and following the steps below.
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Search for books/ book chapters in Holman Library to learn more about your author or era.
Type in author's name, era, or other relevant keyword.
Limit to books.
The reference series American History through Literature offers particularly insightful background articles that contextualize literature, history, ideas, and authors.