Praxis II (0041/0049) Reading and Literature: Historical and Cultural Contexts in Literature

Greek/Hellenistic
authors include Homer, Sophocles, Euripedes; notable works include ‘The Iliad’ and ‘The Odyssey’

humanism vs gods; tragic hero (flaw, hubris, reversal of intention); morality; chorus; in medias res; unities (place, action, time); catharsis; oral tradition, treatment of women, didactic; deus ex machina; no imagination; determinism; man’s nature is not good; dramatic

themes: political, moral, religion/tragedy

Roman
authors include Virgil, Horace, Ovid; notable works: ‘The Aeneid’ and ‘Metamorphoses’

Old English/Anglo-Saxon
an early form of the English language that was spoken and written in parts of what are now England and south-eastern Scotland between the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century; works such as ‘Beowulf;’ rise of haiku poetry

Middle English/Medieval
period in history which lasted for roughly a millennium, commonly dated from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the beginning of the Early Modern Period in the 16th century; authors include Dante, Chaucer; works include ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,’ ‘The Canterbury Tales,’ and ‘The Divine Comedy’

chivalric ideals; courtly love, chastity, courtesy, fabliau, humility, warrior/gentleman values; religious; no humanism; morality; unties, catharsis; oral tradition, treatment of women, didactic, no imagination, traveling plays/pilgrimages; vernacular literature, man’s nature is not good; dramatic; the Troy story; commercial revolution

themes: religion, satire, comedy, good vs. evil, dream vision, chivalric romance, beast fables, autobiography; mysticism

Renaissance
a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century; authors include Erasmus, More, Shakespeare, John Calvin, Marlowe

printing press; optics, commercial revolutions; conflict with scholasticism; human condition: humanism, “renaissance man,” hedonism, pursuit of pleasure, unities, catharsis, non-didactic, no imagination, rebirth (back to Classicism); “carpe diem,” man’s nature is seen as good, religious reformation, individuality, secular interest, dramatic; starts in media res, alchemy, metaphysical conceit

themes: blank verse, sonnet, revenge tragedy, epic, satire, historical, English Civil War, political, comedy, honor

Age of Enlightenment
used to describe a time in Western philosophy and cultural life centered upon the eighteenth century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority; they believed that human reason could be used to combat ignorance, superstition, and tyranny and to build a better world; their principal targets were religion (embodied in France in the Catholic Church) and the domination of society by a hereditary aristocracy.

heroic couplet; neoclassicism – rebirth of classical (Greek/Roman) ideals; growth of literacy; modern novel is child of printing press; the essay; scribbling women; dictionaries; restoration; Horace – literature should teach/inspire; didactic conflicts; moral conflicts, satirical; nature autonomous; mind autonomous

theme: didactic novel; moral novel; satirical novel, age of Enlightenment

books/authors: Jefferson, Franklin, Tartuffe; Moliere; Voltaire; Candide; Alexander Pope; Jonathon Swift, Gulliver’s Travels; Fantomina; Eliza Haywood; Aphra Behn; History of the Nun; Emma; Jane Austen, Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Paine

Puritan/Colonial Literature
a time of individual freedom and political independence; religious, no humanism, didactic, morality, Jerimiad; Puritan beliefs, came about because of Exodus of people in England to escape religious persecution and governmental influences

themes: domestic concerns; sin vs. salvation; nature, exploration, historical

books/authors: Sinners in the Angry Hands…; Jonathan Edwards; In Reference to Her…; Anne Bradsheet; Smith, Winthrop

Age of Reason
includes authors such as Jefferson, Paine, Henry; notable work: ‘Common Sense’

Transcendentalism
a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early to middle 19th century; include authors such as Emerson and Thoreau; notable work: “Self-Reliance” and “Civil Disobedience”

Romanticism
a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution;

transcendentalism; democracy and individualism; non-didactic; idealized rural life vs social life; transcendentalism; catharsis; perception of the world; attack on Neo-Classicism; value of human emotion; love of nature; longing

themes: longing, nature

books/authors: Tintern Abbey; Wordsworth; The Raven; Poe; Frankenstein; Shelley; Confession; Rousseau; Heinrich Heine; Shelley, Blake, Keats, Byron Shelley, Pushkin

Victorian
a second English “Renaissance” with expansion of wealth, power, and culture

religious, focus on community, humanity, society, didactic, city vs rural; appeal to reason instead of emotion because of autonomy desire … not just desire for passion; novels and poems center around love and relationships; domestic concerns (not same as Colonial); woman question (from ancient to modern); strict prude; high standards of decency and respectability; realistically shows changes in life and thought; determinism

themes: didactic; woman question, position of women, religion, love vs autonomy

authors/books: Jane Eyre; Bronte sisters; Aurora Leigh; Elizabeth Barret Browning; Great Expectations; Dickens; Jenny; Rosetti; Tennyson, Norton, Browning

Age of Realism
truthful representation of reality of common, contemporary (often middle class) life or “verisimilitude”

accurate portrayal of life and reality; problems and conflicts that reader can identify with; more psychological; less plot; characters are important; vernacular language; conflict between social and human emotional needs; fictions concerns itself with ethical issues; values individual; satire – not grim/somber; middle class society; not aristocratic, historical novel; reaction again

theme: woman question, sexuality

book/authors: Anna Karenina; Tolstoy; The Awakening; Chopin; Dickinson, Longfellow

Naturalism
a literary movement that seeks to replicate a believable everyday reality, as opposed to such movements as Romanticism or Surrealism, in which subjects may receive highly symbolic, idealistic, or even supernatural treatment

not accurate portrayal, portray of characters who are trapped by forces and environment cannot control; man is subject to compulsive instincts–esp sex, hunger, fear; everything belongs to nature but can be discovered by scientific study; extreme; survival of the fittest, scientific approach to life, determinism

books/authors: Jack London; Call of the Wild; Steinbeck, Crane, Wharton

Modernism
modern thought, character, or practice; accurate portrayal; loss of plot; non-linear; questions of certainty of social order, religion, morality; stresses chaos; calling up of past, truth in personal experience; interior monologue; interwoven symbols; protagonist because of anti-hero; denouement; absurdism

themes: position of women, sense of loss; chaos, loss of humanity

books/authors: Mrs. Dalloway; Virginia Woolf, The Picture of Dorian Gray; Oscar Wilde; Portrait of Artist as a Young Man; James Joyce; WWI Poets (Owen, Eliot, Yeats); Pound, Faulkner, Hemingway

Postmodernism
literally means ‘after the modernist movement;’ same as modernism, more framentation; no truths, no plot, no hero; no humor, anti-novel, experimental forms, interwoven symbols, protagonist, anti-hero, denouement

themes: position of women, sense of loss, loss of humanity

authors/books: Waiting on Godot; Samuel Beckett; The Displaced Person; Flannery O’Connor; Salinger, Bradbury; Kerouac, Plath, Angelou

Existentialism
a term that has been applied to the work of a number of nineteenth and twentieth century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, took the human subject — not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual and his or her conditions of existence — as a starting point for philosophical thought; authors include Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka

Restoration
began in 1660 when the English monarchy, Scottish monarchy and Irish monarchy were restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the English Civil War; authors include Defoe, Swift, Pope

Neoclassicism
given to quite distinct movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw upon Western classical art and culture (usually that of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome)

Sentimentalism
an overindulgence in emotion, especially the conscious effort to induce emotion in order to enjoy it; authors include Austen, Bode, and Stern

World War I
also known as the First World War, Great War and War to End All Wars, was a global military conflict which involved the majority of the world’s great powers, organized into two opposing military alliances: the Entente Powers and the Central Powers: authors include Owens, Yeats, and Eliot

World War II
a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world’s nations, including all of the great powers, organized into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis; authors include Beckett, Achebe, Miller

Revolutionary War
a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen united former British colonies on the North American continent, and ended in a global war between several European great powers

Industrial Revolution
a period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and transportation had a profound effect on the socioeconomic and cultural conditions in Britain; authors include Engels and Lord Ashley

French Revolution
a period of political and social upheaval and radical change in the history of France, during which the French governmental structure, previously an absolute monarchy with feudal privileges for the aristocracy and Catholic clergy, underwent radical change to forms based on Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights; notable authors Rousseau, Voltaire, and Paine

Feminist Movement
a social and political movement that sought to establish equality for women; “Roe vs. Wade;” notable authors Walker, Cather, and Plath

Harlem Renaissance
refers to the flowering of African American cultural and intellectual life during the 1920s and 1930s; includes authors Hurston, Hughes, and Cullen

Elizabethan Era
is associated with Queen Elizabeth I’s reign (1558-1603) and is often considered to be the golden age in English history; authors include Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Spenser

Augustan Age
is a style of English literature produced during the reigns of Queen Anne, King George I, and George II in the first half of the 18th century, ending in the 1740s with the deaths of Pope and Swift (1744 and 1745, respectively)

Protestant Reformation
a Christian reform movement in Europe; notable authors include Calvin and Luther

Civil War
also known as the War Between the States and several other names, was a civil war in the United States of America; notable authors include Douglass, Stowe, Chestnut, and Lincohn

Aestheticism
loosely defined movement in literature, fine art, the decorative arts, and interior design in later nineteenth-century Britain; used slogan “Art for Art’s Sake;” authors include Wilde, Keats, and Rosetti

Southern Literature
is defined as American literature about the Southern US or by writers from this region; characteristics include a focus on a common history, the significance of family, a sense of community and one’s role within it, the region’s dominant religion and the burdens/rewards religion often brings, issues of racial tension, land and the promise it brings, a sense of social class and place, and the use of the Southern dialect; authors include Twain, O’Connor, Gaines, and Gibbons

Metaphysical Poetry
a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, who shared an interest in metaphysical concerns and a common way of investigating them, and whose work was characterized by inventiveness of metaphor; include Donne, Marvel, Herbert