Not all of these genres span the entire period, although a few do. Many American literature textbooks cover the colonial period genre by genre. The danger in doing this is time distortion. This period of literature spans almost 300 years, longer by far than all of the other periods of literature put together. The other problem with covering this period by genre is that many of its most famous writers wrote in more than one genre, so the same writer must be considered multiple times. A final disadvantage is the proximity of many of the genres to another genre. For example, how different can a work in philosophy be from a religious tract when a religious background is assumed by the author? Many political writers touch heavily on history, and vice versa. Given these considerations, it is more fruitful to cover this period diachronically while keeping possible genres in mind.
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