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American Literary Movements Summary

Puritanism (17th century) – a style of writing that adhered to five basic tenets of spiritual life: unique sin, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints, and predestination. Puritans believed that God divinely controls the universe and all people, regardless of social or economic standing, are equal in God’s sight. Central to Puritan success is the acute self-determinism that also contributes to American idealism.

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Important writers of this era: William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, John Smith, and Edward Taylor.

Classicism or Neoclassical Age (18th Century) a mode of writing that valued cause and rational thought in addition to traditional, formal type; it was an imitation of the traditional Greek and Roman art and literature; also referred to as the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment. Important writers of this era: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine.

Romanticism (early nineteenth Century) a response to Classicism; new type of fictional literature that emphasized feeling over considering and contained the next traits: concentrate on self, fascination with the supernatural or gothic, love of nature, craving for the exotic or picturesque, deep-rooted idealism, and nationalism or love of country.

Important writers of this era: Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving.

Transcendentalism (19th Century) a movement primarily based in New England that promoted the idea that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” expertise and are higher guides to the truth than the senses and logical cause are. Transcendentalists combined the “best” of Classicism and Romanticism; they believed in the worth of basic custom and nonetheless valued nature and the person.

They believed within the “Over-Soul,” a divinity who was current in all things. Important writers of this era: Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

*Note: Some historians refer to the years 1850-1855 because the American Renaissance as a result of so many writers of great importance recorded the events of this time in America. Civil War Literature (1861-1865) primarily nonfiction accounts and diaries; poetry was nonetheless fairly well-liked. Important writers of this era: Abraham Lincoln, John Greenleaf Whittier Realism (mid to late 19th Century) a literary movement that sought to portray ordinary life as real people lived it and tried to show characters and events in an goal, virtually factual method.

It had its roots on this country within the experiences of struggle, on the frontier, and within the cities. Science performed a part in Realism as well; a Realist needed to be acutely observant, dealing truthfully along with his or her characters. Important writers of this period: Willa Cather, Kate Chopin, Emily Dickinson, Bret Harte, William Dean Howells, and Stephen Crane. Naturalism (late 19th Century) influenced by the French novelist Emile Zola, Naturalism sought to look at folks and society objectively and draw conclusions from what’s observed, very like a scientist. Naturalist writers viewed actuality as an inescapable understanding of pure forces.

They believed ones future is determined by heredity and setting, physical drives, and economic circumstances. Naturalists believed that folks had no management over occasions and tended to be pessimistic. A recurring theme in Naturalism is man is at the mercy of the brutal forces of nature. Important writers of this period: Stephen Crane, Jack London, Frank Norris, and Theodore Dreiser. Regionalism (late nineteenth to early 20th Century) writing attempts to explain the LOCAL COLOR of a area by presenting its distinct culture (dialect, customs, beliefs, history…).

Local colour is using characters and details which would possibly be distinctive to a specific geographic area. Local colour could be created by means of dialect and by descriptions of customs, clothes, manners, attitudes, scenery, and panorama. Regionalism goes past the mere native shade writing and adds a sociological or anthropological therapy of the tradition of a area. Important writers of this era: Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, Eudora Welty,and Willa Cather.

Modernism (Early to mid twentieth century) writing that discloses a rejection of custom and a hostile attitude towards the immediate previous. Modernism took place as a world movement dominating the humanities of Western tradition from shortly after the flip of the century till around 1950. Important writers of this era: William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck. Post-Modernism (end of WWII to present) writing that has prompted a heightened curiosity within the various genres of criticism: feminist criticism, deconstruction, post-structuralism.

Contemporary American literature has been characterized by an amazing variety varieties, methods, and outlooks. For instance, post-modernism accommodates tales of optimism, despair, cynicism, violence, abnormality, anger, absurdity, and mysticism, in addition to revivals of religion, folklore, and fable. Also, minority literature has significantly influenced and impacted the motion of post-modernism. Important writers of this era: Maya Angelou, Allen Ginsberg, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Flannery O’Connor, J. D. Salinger, John Updike, Alice Walker, and Tennessee Williams.

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