Download SLG English 4 1.1 Introduction to Neoclassicism until the Contemporary Period (1800-present)

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Subject Code English 4
Communication Arts IV and World Literature
Module Code 1.0
Introduction to Neoclassicism until the Contemporary Period (1800-present)
Lesson Code 1.1
Introduction to Neoclassicism until the Contemporary Period (1800-present)
Time Limit
30 minutes
By the end of this learning guide, the students should be able to:
1. identify the scope and the salient characteristics of literature in the age
of Neoclassicism, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Modern, and
Contemporary Periods
2. compare and contrast the literary focus, the genres and the notable
writers/poets through their famous works from Neoclassicism until
the contemporary period.
How can Literature be a Time Machine ?
Image from:
The journey from Neoclassicism to the Contemporary period in the
literary movement is long and was initially centered only in Europe. Aside from
this, there were a lot of political, social and artistic movements which eventually
gave way to Contemporary literature. However, there are a number of versions as
to who really started a particular literary movement, and when these specific
movements actually started or ended. It is important to note however, that these
periods have tremendously influenced contemporary literature. The following is
just a bird’s eye view of the literary evolution from 1660 (Neoclassicism)present. Literature after 1946 to the present is the literature of the
Contemporary World. ( Bowler et al, 1996)
Neoclassicism (1660-1798)
The Neoclassical period of literature was born out of the neoclassical era
which tried to copy the Roman and Greek Classics. This was the time when
writers sought to copy the Greek and the Roman style because the “classics''
brought a very high distinctive value especially to the highest members of the
society. This was a time when people valued fashion, intellect and good manners
especially when these could be flaunted in public. Neoclassical literature is
characterized by parodies, essays, satires, letters, fables, melodrama and rhyming
with couplets. The term “Neo'' means new, thus Neo-Classical literature is the
rehash of Classical style but would primarily dwell on the assumption that
humans are naturally flawed. Thus, these flaws are to be prevented if not hidden
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through self-control, restraint and common sense.
The Neoclassical Period of literature covers three stages. These are the
Restoration period, the Augustan period and the Age of Johnson.
Nineteenth-Century Literature (1800-1890)
Changes in the European life during the 19th century were brought about
by the many political and social movements with the introduction of new ideas.
These ideas fueled the revolutions in the mad cycle of unifying and tearing apart
of European states. Kings, generals, and reformists dominated the world for the
time being, and industrialism and science gave birth to the four literary
movements in the nineteenth century literature which are: Romanticism,
Realism, Naturalism, and Symbolism.
Unlike the 18th century writers who were bent on writing methodically
and scientifically, Romantic writers preferred the opposite. In this movement, the
focus was on the lives of ordinary people written in plain language and mostly
concerned with human emotions and feelings. It was a new kind of literature
which completely discarded the preceding literary style. Romantics dwelled on
themes about deep love, respect and love for nature, folklore, the supernatural,
optimism, individualism, spirituality, isolation and melancholy, and idealization
of women. Romanticism comes from the word romaunt which means a romantic
story told in verse. As often misunderstood only to mean love, Romanticism
actually is a movement focused on the celebration of the ‘regular people” - their
emotions, behavior, thoughts, feelings and experiences. Many works in this era
were very personal, and they often explored the inner life of the writer.
Autobiographical influences in prose and poetry of this period was very common.
(Sommers, 2019)
In response to Romanticism, the Realists tried to portray life as accurately
as possible. Unlike the Romanticists, the Realists presented a bleak, harsh,
difficulty-ridden life in contrast to the optimistic, hopeful, and fulfilled life of the
Romantics. This was because of the effects of industrialization and the harsh
realities that beset the “working class” of the 19th century.
Realists wanted to tell the story of the common man through plain and
simple language. They took away the emotional display of the Romanticists and
replaced it with raw realities that may have truly presented the life of the common
Like the Realists, the Naturalists sought to also portray life as accurately as
possible. However, they were influenced by the works of Darwin and Spencer
who had defined views of how things are and should be. They believed that a
person’s future is determined by heredity, chance and environment. Naturalists
would always depict a person’s life being the product of circumstances and a
number of factors one cannot fathom nor control.
The French poets, Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine started the Symbolist
Movement. Their poetry however was heavily influenced by British and Irish
writing. Symbolist poems are richly musical works whose larger meanings are
implied but not directly stated. The Symbolists believe that art is achievable only
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if it invokes emotions because emotions should be the true and proper subject of
art. Therefore, Symbolists seek to establish a network of symbols to imply a
certain thought or emotion.
As a stark contrast to Realism’s attempt to portray reality, Symbolism
attempts to create meaning through dreamlike , lyrical, and emotionally-charged
Modern Literature (1900 – 1965)
At the start of the 20th century, many events happened and have left a
tremendous impact on the lives of the people. Along with these historical events
are the literary trends which banked on individualism, experimentation and
populism on the later stage of Modernism.
In contrast to the Romantic worldview, the Modernist no longer dwells on
themes about Nature, Self, or the tenets of history. “Instead of progress and
growth, the Modern Intelligentsia sees decay and a growing alienation of the
individual. The machinery of modern society is perceived as impersonal,
capitalist, and antagonistic to the artistic impulse. War most certainly had a great
deal of influence on such ways approaching the world. Two World wars in the
span of a generation effectively shell-shocked all of Western civilization. “(Rahn,
The Contemporary World (1946- present)
While other writers may claim that the Modern period still covers the end of
World War II, it may actually overlap with the Contemporary World because
most textbooks would just categorize post-war literature as modern or
contemporary. After WWII, the world made giant leaps in the advancement of
science and technology which still continues to unfold to this day. The end of
colonialism after the end of World War II, the independence of other nations, the
establishment of Third World Nations, the road to recovery for war-torn lands
and the instigators of wars and international cooperation and conflict were the
highlights of the contemporary period.
However, with human progress comes the birth of a new kind of
philosophies and literary movements which would dominate the literary style of
the contemporary period. Contemporary literature predominantly originated from
the existentialist movement which was anchored on the responsibility and
freedom of an individual.
Furthermore, the upsurge of literature in Latin America was so dramatic
that it was labeled as the Latin American “Boom”. Two Latin American writers,
Jorge Luis Borges (Argentinian) and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombian) were
prominent figures in this Latin American “Boom.” Much of these writers’ works
are mostly reflective of the two powerful literary movements of the contemporary
world: Social Realism and Magical Realism.
Social Realism often protests against oppression and other unjust social
conditions. Magical realism expands the category of realism to include myth,
magic, and other marvels of the natural world, while using humor and irony.
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Quiz (15 points) Using the information given in Ignite and a little bit of research,
supply the missing information to complete the chart. Number 6
has been done for you.
Major Literary
Literary Forms Famous Writer/
Movement /
Social Realism /
Magical Realism
Gabriel GarciaMarquez
The evolution of world literature in the span of three centuries has brought
about massive and remarkable changes.If history is a record of events, literature
is a record of human experiences, emotions, thoughts, and ideals. Literature is
our time machine. It takes us back with our memories and carries us forward with
our dreams.
There have been a lot of literary movements throughout history not only in
Europe but in every part of the world regardless of language, race, culture,
beliefs, political and social orientation. The world changes and through time,
people would continue to write, create stories to read and listen to. Literature will
continue to grow, evolve and affect humanity like it has always done before.
suggested time allocation set by the teacher
actual time spent by the student (for information purposes only)
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Bowler, E., Coe, B., McCollum,D., Fried,P., Ackley,K., Hausmann, E., Mahoney, M., (1996).
Literature world masterpieces. Prentice-Hall
Kearns, G. (1987) English and western literature.Macmillan
Notari, D. (2021,February 2) Neo-Classical literature.Retrieved from
Rahn, J. (2011). Modernism. Retrieved from
Somers, J. (2018, December 18). 10 Key characteristics of romanticism in literature. Retrieved from
Prepared by: Ariane O. Panigbatan
Position: Special Science Teacher (SST) II
Campus: Western Visayas
Reviewed by: Jearvy R. Lañohan
Position: Special Science Teacher (SST) V
Campus: Southern Mindanao
English 4
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