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Name:_________________________
Ms. Thompson
ELA II
American Literary Movements Study Guide- Review for Monday’s Test (9/22/14)
*Note: These are not the only important parts of the literary time periods; rather these are just
some highlights from the presentations seen in class. Also keep in mind that some time periods
overlap, as well as some authors and poets can fit into more than one category.
1. Puritanism/Colonialism Time Period
 Date Range: 1650-1750
 Reinforces authority of the Bible and Church
 Very plain writing
 Sermons, diaries, personal narratives
 Believe people are corrupt and need to be saved by God
 Instructive material
 ie: Edwards- “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God”
 **The Crucible, the first play we read in class was written in the 1950s, but the setting
takes place during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials and Puritan time period
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Age of Reason/Enlightenment
Date Range: 1750-1800
Instills pride and patriotism
Mission to build American character
Lots of political pamphlets to encourage Revolutionary War Support
Persuasive Writing
Founding Fathers very influential
(Independence Day- July 4, 1776!) -->I still can’t believe many of you didn’t know this.
Learn it.
ie: Thomas Paine- Common Sense
Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac
Constitution
Federalist and AntiFederalist Papers
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Romanticism
Date Range: 1800-1860
Values emotion over logical reasoning
Poetry, short stories, character sketches
Helped instill “proper” gender behavior for men and women
Allowed people to over-exaggerate and reimagine the American past
Freedom and creativity
ie: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson Poems
Dunbar’s “We wear the mask”
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American Renaissance/Transcendentalism
Date Range: 1840-1860
Valued self-reliance and individualism
Valued freedom
Idealists
Nature important
Nonconformists (don’t follow everyone in society)
ie: Thoreau’s Walden
Emerson’s Nature
Anti-Transcendentalists- Poe, Hawthorne, & Melville (used symbolism)
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Realism
Date Range: 1855-1900
Civil War made need for “truer” literature
Novels and short stories
Objective narrators
Dialogue and slang (more realistic sounding)
ie: Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
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Modernism
Date Range: 1900-1950
Reaction to WWI
o Often themes involving alienation and isolation
o Disillusionment due to war
Highly experimental writing styles
Use of stream of consciousness
Fragmentation in writing
In pursuit of the American Dream (begin to question things but optimistic in some
respects)
ie: The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Poetry of TS Eliot, William Carlos Williams (born in Rutherford, NJ!), Ezra Pound
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Harlem Renaissance
Date Range: 1920s
In reaction to a huge migration of African-Americans from Northern urban centers
Gave birth to “gospel music”
Blues and Jazz big part of lifestyles
Use structure of blues songs in poetry
ie: Poetry, short stories and novels of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston
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Postmodernism/Contemporary
Date Range: 1950-Present
Post-World War II
Mixing of fantasy with nonfiction; blurs lines of reality for reader
No heroes
Narratives, metafiction, magical realism, usually humorless
Erodes distinctions between classes of people
ie: Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye
Beat poets: Kerouac, Burroughs, & Ginsberg
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