Literary Movements & Periods
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Characterized by a strong sense of ambiguity: uncertainty about the morality of imperialism, about the nature of humanity, and about the continuing viability of European civilization.
Full of high adventure, romance, and excitement
Theater of the Absurd
A movement primarily in the theater, that responded to the seeming illogically and purposelessness of human life in works marked by lack of clear narrative, understandable psychological motives, or emotional catharsis.
Believed in art as an end in itself. Authors rejected the thought that art had to possess a higher moral or political value. Aesthetes believed in "Art for art's sake"
characterized by experimental styles and subjects, including spontaneous writing without regard for grammar, sexually explicit language, uninhibited discussion of personal experiences, and themes ranging from a rejection of American values and fear of nuclear war to sexual escapades and road trips
Improvisational comedy first developed in Renaissance Italy that involved stock characters and centered around a set senario. The elements of farce and buffoonery in commedia dell'arte, as well as its standard characters and plot intrigues have had a temendous infulence on western comedy and can still be seen in contemporary drama and tv sitcoms.
An avant-garde movement that began in response to the devastation of World War I. Based in Paris and led by the poet Tristan Tzara, the Dadaists produced nihilistic and antilogical prose, poetry, and art, and rejected the traditions, rules, and ideals of prewar Europe.
- An intellectual movement in France and other parts of Europe that emphasized the importance of reason, progress, and liberty. Sometimes called the Age of Reason, is primarily associated with nonfiction writing, such as essays and philosophical treatises.
- Major Enlightenment writers include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, René Descartes.
A flourishing period in English literature, particularly drama, that coincided with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and included writers such as Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney, and Edmund Spenser.
- A genre of late-18th-century literature that featured brooding, mysterious settings and plots and set the stage for what we now call “horror stories.”
- Later, the term “Gothic” grew to include any work that attempted to create an atmosphere of terror or the unknown, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories.
A flowering of African-American literature, art, and music during the 1920s in New York City.
W. E. B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk anticipated the movement, which included Alain Locke’s anthology The New Negro, Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the poetry of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen.
A term used to describe the generation of writers, many of them soldiers that came to maturity during World War I.
Notable members of this group include F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Ernest Hemingway, whose novel The Sun Also Rises embodies the Lost Generation’s sense of disillusionment.
A group of 17th-century poets who combined direct language with ingenious images, paradoxes, and conceits. John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the best known poets of this school.
The transitional period between Anglo-Saxon and modern English. The cultural upheaval that followed the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066, saw a flowering of secular literature, including ballads, chivalric romances, allegorical poems, and a variety of religious plays. Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is the most celebrated work of this period.(c. 1066–1500)
- A literary and artistic movement that provided a radical breaks with traditional modes of Western art, thought, religion, social conventions, and morality.
- Major themes of this period include the attack on notions of hierarchy; experimentation in new forms of narrative, such as stream of consciousness; A literary technique that presents the thoughts and feelings of a character as they occur
Encompasses all writen works availbale in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages (encompassing the one thousand years from the fall of the western Roman Empire 500 AD to the begining of the Floreintine Renassance in the late 15th Century). The literature of this time was composed of religious writings as well as secular work. Ex: Beowulf & The Decameron
Generally considered the golden age of modernist literature, this period saw the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.
- A literary movement that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character. The focus is human nature. Naturalist writer believe that truth is found in nature.
- Leading writers in the movement include Émile Zola, Theodore Dreiser, and Stephen Crane.
- A literary movement, inspired by the rediscovery of classical works of ancient Greece and Rome that emphasized balance, simplicity,logic,economy,accuracy,restraint, decorum and order. Neoclassicism roughly coincided with the Enlightenment, which espoused reason over passion.
- Notable neoclassical writers include Edmund Burke, John Dryden, Samuel Johnson, Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift.
- Literature by and about people from former European colonies, primarily in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. This literature aims both to expand the traditional canon of Western literature and to challenge Eurocentric assumptions about literature, especially through examination of questions of otherness, identity, and race.
- Prominent postcolonial works include Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) provided an important theoretical basis for understanding postcolonial literature.
- A notoriously ambiguous term, especially as it refers to literature, postmodernism can be seen as a response to the elitism of high modernism as well as to the horrors of World War II. Postmodern literature is characterized by a disjointed, fragmented pastiche of high and low culture that reflects the absence of tradition and structure in a world driven by technology and consumerism.
- Julian Barnes, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, and Kurt Vonnegut are among many who are considered postmodern authors.
- A loose term that can refer to any work that aims at honest portrayal over sensationalism, exaggeration, or melodrama. Technically, realism refers to a late-19th-century literary movement—primarily French, English, and American—that aimed at accurate detailed portrayal of ordinary, contemporary life. Often addressed themes of socioeconomic conflict by contrasting the living conditions of the poor with those of the upper classes.
- Novelists, such as Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, and Leo Tolstoy, are classified as realists
Romanticism (c. 1798–1832)
A literary and artistic movement that reacted against the restraint and universalism of the Enlightenment. The Romantics celebrated spontaneity, imagination, subjectivity, and the purity of nature. Poetry was believed the highest form of literature.
Notable English Romantic writers include Jane Austen, William Blake, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth.
Prominent figures in the American Romantic movement include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, and John Greenleaf Whittier.
An avant-garde movement, based primarily in France, that sought to break down the boundaries between rational and irrational, conscious and unconscious, through a variety of literary and artistic experiments. Most writers wrote about some form of love or nature.
- A group of French poets who reacted against realism with a poetry of suggestion based on private symbols, and experimented with new poetic forms such as free verse and the prose poem. sought to convey very personal, irrational, and dream-like states of consciousness, relying heavily on metaphorical language to approximate, or symbolize, an eternal essence of being that, they believed, was abstracted from the scope of the five senses
- Symbolism also exerted a strong influence on the arts, including theatre, painting, and music.
- The symbolists—Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine are the most well known—were influenced by Charles Baudelaire. In turn, they had a seminal influence on the modernist poetry of the early 20th century.
- Was a religious, philosophical and literary movement. These people believed, it was time for literary independence. And so they deliberately went about creating literature, essays, novels, philosophy, poetry, and other writing that were clearly different from anything from England, France, Germany, or any other European nation. See them as a generation of people struggling to define spirituality and religion (our words, not necessarily theirs) in a way that took into account the new understandings their age made available.
- Writers Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Walt Whitman;
- Focused largely on religion, classic antiquity, scholarship and politics. Sonnets also became a popular style of poetry. Celebrated human potential, individualism, imagination, and mysticism.
- Some of the most famous Renaissance writers were William Shakespeare, Giovanni Boccaccio and Christopher Marlowe
Imagism (part of the modernist movement)
Short verses that consisted entirely of a series of images to convey meaning.
The ability to exaggerate for effect or blend fact with fantasy. Writers distorted objective features of the sensory world using symbolism and dream-like elements in their works illustrating the alienating and often emotionally overwhelmed sensibilities.
- Stories of the life and thoughts of American slaves. Slave narratives were publicized by abolitionists. During the first half of the 19th century, the controversy over slavery in the United States led to impassioned literature on both sides of the issue.
- Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) represented the abolitionist view of the evils of slavery-Harriet Beecher Stowe
The name affixed to those novels that concentrate on the development or education of a central character.
Intends to lead the reader to greater personal enrichment as the protagonist journeys from youth to psychological or emotional maturity
- Remembered for strict social, political, and sexual conservatism and frequent clashes between religion and science, the period also saw prolific literary activity and significant social reform and criticism.
- Characterized by a strong sense of morality, and it frequently champions the oppressed. It is also often equated with prudishness and oppression,
- Known for its attempts to combine imagination and emotion with the neoclassical ideal of the accessibility of art for the common person.
- Notable Victorian novelists include the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, George Eliot,
- Notable Victorian nonfiction writers: Walter Pater, John Ruskin, and Charles Darwin, who penned the famous On the Origin of Species (1859).
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