Literary Movements/Periods

Timeline created by matea.sikalo
  • Sturm und Drang

    German for “storm and stress,” this brief German literary movement advocated passionate individuality in
    the face of Neoclassical rationalism and restraint. Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is the most enduring work of this
    movement, which greatly influenced the Romantic movement.
  • Period:
    1066
    to
    1500

    Middle English

    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.
  • Period:
    1500
    to

    Commedia dell’arte

    Improvisational comedy first developed in Renaissance Italy that involved stock characters and
    centered around a set scenario. The elements of farce and buffoonery in commedia dell’arte, as well as its standard characters and plot
    intrigues, have had a tremendous influence on Western comedy, and can still be seen in contemporary drama and television sitcoms.
  • Period:
    1558
    to

    Elizabethan era

    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.
  • Period: to

    Metaphysical poets

    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.
  • Period: to

    Enlightenment

    An intellectual movement in France and other parts of Europe that emphasised the importance of reason, progress, and liberty. The Enlightenment, 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.
  • Period: to

    Neoclassicism

    A literary movement, inspired by the rediscovery of classical works of ancient Greece and Rome that emphasised balance, restraint, 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.
  • Period: to

    Gothic fiction

    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.” Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, set inside a medieval castle, was the first major Gothic novel. 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.
  • Period: to

    Romanticism

    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. Notable English Romantic writers include Jane Austen, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, and William Wordsworth. Prominent figures in the American Romantic movement include Nathaniel Hawthorne,Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe and John Greenleaf Whittier.
  • Period: to

    Realism

    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 that aimed at accurate detailed portrayal of ordinary, contemporary life. Many of the 19th century’s greatest novelists, such as Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, and Leo Tolstoy, are classified as realists. Naturalism can be seen as an intensification of realism.
  • Period: to

    Victorian era

    The period of English history between the first Reform Bill (1832) and the death of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837–1901). Remembered for strict social, political, and sexual conservatism and clashes between religion and science, the period also saw prolific literary activity and significant social reform and criticism. Victorian novelists include the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, while prominent poets include Matthew Arnold; Robert Browning and Christina Rossetti.
  • Period: to

    Aestheticism

    The belief in art as an end in itself. Meaning that art can be one without political, moral or any sort of underlying meaning. "Art for art's sake".
  • Period: to

    Transcendentalism

    An American philosophical and spiritual movement, based in New England, that focused on the primacy of the individual conscience and rejected materialism in favor of closer communion with nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden are famous transcendentalist works.
  • Period: to

    Pre-Raphaelites

    The literary arm of an artistic movement that drew inspiration from Italian artists working before Raphael (1483–1520). The Pre-Raphaelites combined sensuousness and religiosity through archaic poetic forms and medieval settings. William Morris, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Charles Swinburne were leading poets in the movement.
  • Period: to

    Naturalism

    A literary movement that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character. Leading writers in the movement include Émile Zola, Theodore Dreiser, and Stephen Crane.
  • Period: to

    Symbolists

    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. 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.
  • Period: to

    Modernism

    Provided a radical break with traditional modes of Western art and thought etc. Major themes of this period include the experimentation in new forms of narrative, doubt about existence of knowable, alternative viewpoints and self-referentiality, attention to the relationships between artist and audience.
    High modernism (1920s): 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
  • Period: to

    Bloomsbury Group

    An informal group of friends and lovers, including Clive Bell, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, and John Maynard Keynes, who lived in the Bloomsbury section of London in the early 20th century and who had a considerable liberalising influence on British culture.
  • Period: to

    Dadaism

    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 anti-logical prose, poetry, and art, and rejected the traditions, rules, and ideals of prewar Europe.
  • Period: to

    Harlem Renaissance

    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.
  • Period: to

    Lost Generation

    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.
  • Period: to

    Surrealism

    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. The surrealist poets, such as André Breton and Paul Eluard, were not as successful as their artist counterparts, who included Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and René Magritte.
  • Period: to

    Absurd, literature of the

    Responds to the seemingly purposelessness of human life, covering aspects of illogicality and is represented by an unclear narrative, understandable psychological motives and/or emotional catharsis (release).
  • Period: to

    Magic realism

    A style of writing, popularised by Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Günter Grass, and others, that combines realism with moments of dream-like fantasy within a single prose narrative.
  • Period: to

    Postmodernism

    A notoriously ambiguous term, postmodernism can be seen as a response to high modernism as well as to World War II. Postmodern literature is characterised 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.
  • Period: to

    Angry Young Men

    A group of male British writers who created visceral plays and fiction at odds with the political establishment and a self-satisfied middle class. John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1957) is one of the seminal works of this movement.
  • Period: to

    Beat Generation

    A group of American writers in the 1950s and 1960s who sought release and illumination though a
    bohemian counterculture of sex, drugs, and Zen Buddhism. Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac (On the Road) and Allen Ginsberg
    (Howl) gained fame by giving readings in coffeehouses, often accompanied by jazz music.
  • Period: to

    Postcolonial literature

    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. E.g. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.
  • Period: to

    Nouveau Roman ("New Novel")

    A French movement, led by Alain Robbe-Grillet, that dispensed with traditional elements of the novel, such as plot and character, in favor of neutrally recording the experience of sensations and things.