Literary Periods of British & American Literature

Old English
-450-1066

Old English
-Produced during the invasion of Celtic England by Germanic tribes to the conquest of England by William the Conqueror

Old English
-developed from oral tradition

Old English
Beowulf

Middle English
-1066-1500

Middle English
-Produced during the Normal Conquest

Middle English
-Derived from the dialect of the London area, becoming known as “modern English”

Middle English
-Prior to 1350, consisted primarily of religious writings

Middle English
-The Canterburry Tales (Geoffrey Chaucer)
-Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
-Morte d’Arthur (Thomas Malory)

Elizabethan Age
-1558-1603
-Part of the Renaissance

Elizabethan Age
-Medieval tradition was blended with Renaissance Optimism

Elizabethan Age
-Lyric poetry, prose, and drama were major styles

Elizabethan Age
-William Shakespeare, Christoper Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Ben Johnson

Jacobean Age
-1603-1625
-Part of the Renaissance

Jacobean Age
-Literature was sophisticated, sombre, and conscious of social abuse and rivalry
-Produced rich prose and Drama

Jacobean Age
-King James translation of the Bible
-Shakespeare & Johnson wrote as well as John Donne, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Middleton

Caroline Age
-1625-1649

Caroline Age
-Writers wrote with refinement and elegance

Caroline Age
-“Cavalier Poets”

Commonwealth Period
-1649-1660

Commonwealth Period
-Also known as the Puritan Interregnum

Commonwealth Period
-Produced political writings

Commonwealth Period
-Puritans closed theatres on moral and religious grounds
-lack of drama

Commonwealth Period
-John Milton, Thomas Hobbs (Leviathan), Andrew Marvell

Neoclassical Period
-1660-1785

Neoclassical Period
-Influenced by contemporary French literature

Neoclassical Period
-Known for philosophy, reason, skepticism, wit, and refinement

Neoclassical Period
-Marks the great age of literary criticism

The Restoration
-Part of Neoclassical period

The Restoration
-1660-1700

The Restoration
-Paradise Lost & Paradise Regained by John Milton
-John Dryden, John Wilmot, John Locke

The Restoration
-Produced abundance of prose and poetry
-Distinctive comedy of manners

Augustan Age
-1700-1745
-Part of Neoclassical Period

Augustan Age
-Predominant characteristics of refinement, clarity, elegance, and balance of judgement

Augustan Age
-Johnathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe

Age of Sensibility
-1745-1785
-Part of Neoclassical Period

Age of Sensibility
-Also known as age of Johnson

Age of Sensibility
-reflected worldview of the Enlightenment
-emphasized instinct and feeling

Age of Sensibility
-produced earliest novels

Age of Sensibility
-Samuel Johnson
-Clarissa (Richardson)
-Tom Jones (Henry Fielding)

Romantic Period (British)
-Characterized by personal nature, strong use of feeling, abundant use of symbolism, and it’s exploration of nature and the supernatural

Romantic Period (British)
-1785-1830

Romantic Period (British)
-Writers thought literature should be spontaneous, imaginative, personal, and free

Romantic Period (British)
-Gothic Literature was born (dark and gloomy settings with situations that are fantastic, grotesque, wild, savage, and mysterious)

Romantic Period (British)
-Samuel Taylor Colerdige, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, and Lord Byron
-Anne Radcliffe & Mary Shelley (Gothic)

Victorian Period
-Dealt with social, economic, religious, and intellectual issues and problems surrounding Industrial Revolution, growing class tensions, and early feminist movement, reform, and evolution

Victorian Period
-1832-1901

Victorian Period
-Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Matthew Arnold, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy

Pre-Raphaelites
-1848-1860
-Part of Victorian Period

Pre-Raphaelites
-formation of “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Pre-Raphaelites
-Incorporated ideals of truthfulness, simplicity, and religious devotion

Aestheticism and Decadence
-1880-1901
-Part of Victorian Period

Aestheticism and Decandence
-Grew out of French movement of the same name

Aestheticism and Decadence
-Encouraged experimentation and held the view that art is totally opposed “natural norms” of morality

Aestheticism and Decadence
-Opposed dominance of scientific thinking

Aestheticism and Decadence
-Oscar Wilde

Edwardian Period
-British Empire was at its height and the wealthy lived lives of Materialistic luxury
-Reflect and comment on social conditions of the poor

Edwardian Period
-1901-1914

Edwardian Period
-George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, William Butler Yeats, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, and E.M. Foster

Georgian Period
-Many Edwardian authors continued to write through this period

Georgian Period
-1910-1936

Georgian Period
-Poetry focuses on rural subject matter and is traditional in technique and form

Modern Period
-1914-1945

Modern Period
-Writers experimented with subject matter, form, and style in all literary genres

Modern Period
-poets: William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and Seamus Heaney

Modern Period
-novelists: James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf

Modern Period
-Dramatists: Noel Coward and Samuel Beckett

Postmodern Period
-1945-present

Postmodern Period
-blends literary genres and styles and attempts to break free of modernist forms

Colonial Period
-1607-1776

Colonial Period
-Between first settlement of Jamestown to the outbreak of the Revolution

Colonial Period
-Centered on religious, practical, and historical themes

Colonial Period
-John Winthrop, Cotton Mather, Benjamin Franklin, and Anne Bradstreet

Revolutionary Age
-1765-1790

Revolutionary Age
-Greatest documents of American History were authored

Revolutionary Age
-Common Sense (Thomas Paine)
-Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson)
-Articles of Confederation
-Federalist Papers (Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay)
-The Constitution

Early National Period
-1775-1828

Early National Period
-saw beginnings of literature that could be identified as “American”

Early National Period
-Writers wrote in the English style, but the settings, themes, and characters were authentically American

Early National Period
-Poetry was relatively independent of English precursors

Early National Period
-Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allen Poe

Romantic Period (American)
-1828-1865

Romantic Period (American)
-Also known as American Renaissance or Age of Transcendentalism

Romantic Period (American)
-produced works of originality and excellence that helped shape the ideas, ideals and literary aims of many American writers

Romantic Period (American)
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman

Realistic Period
-1865-1900

Realistic Period
-Major form of literature was realistic fiction

Realistic Period
-Aimed to represent life as it really is and make the reader believe that the characters might actually exist and situations might actually happen

Realistic Period
-Focuses on the ordinary and commonplace

Realistic Period
-Mark Twain, Henry James, Bret Harte, and Kate Chopin

Naturalistic Period
-1900-1914

Naturalistic Period
-Claims to give and even more accurate depiction of life than realism

Naturalistic Period
-Characters are merely higher-order animals whose character and behavior is entirely based upon hereditary and environment

Naturalistic Period
-Writing are often frank, crude, and tragic

Naturalistic Period
-Stephen Crane, Jack London, and Theodore Dreiser

American Modernist Period
-1914-1939

American Modernistic Period
-Experimented with subject matter, form, and style, and produced achievements in all literary genres

American Modernist Period
-poets: Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Edna St. Vincent Millay, E.E. Cummings

American Modernist Period
-prose writers: Edith Wharton, Sinclair Lewis, and Willa Cather

American Modernist Period
-Includes Jazz Age (F. Scott Fitzgerald), the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes, WEB DuBois), and the Lost Generation (Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, TS Eliot, and Ezra Pound)

Contemporary Period
-1939-present

Contemporary Period
-Eudora Welty, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut, Sylvia Plath, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, Zora Neal Hurston, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Maya Angelou

Contemporary Period
-Beat writers brought on a vigorous anti-establishment and anti-traditional movement

Contemporary Period
-Counterculture Writing followed ideals of Beat Movement but with more extreme and ferver manner