Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.
After completing this lesson about literary periods and movements, students will be able to:
- Identify and describe major periods in literary history from Medieval times to the late 20th Century.
- Provide examples of authors and literary works from each literary period.
- Use content-specific vocabulary to discuss the innovations and perspectives of each literary period.
Common Core Curriculum Standards
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
- epic poem
- Protestant Reformation
- Copies of quiz
- Copies of the lesson
- Vocabulary word cards (one set per pair of students)
- Chart paper
- Excerpts of works from each literary period
Video & Discussion
- Pass out Overview of Literary Periods and Movements: A Historical Crash Course for students to follow along while watching the video.
- Watch the 'Literary Periods' section of the video. Pause to discuss the following:
- What does literature tell the reader about the time period in which it was created?
- Watch 'The Medieval Period' segment of the video. Pause to ask the following questions:
- When was the Medieval Period?
- What were some challenges to producing literature during the Medieval Period?
- What are some examples of literary works during this time?
- What are some components of literature from this period?
- Watch 'The Renaissance' portion of the video. Pause to discuss:
- Who are some of the prominent Renaissance writers?
- How is Renaissance literature different from Medieval literature?
- Watch 'The Enlightenment' part of the video. Pause to ask:
- What are some themes of literature during the Enlightenment period?
- What are some examples of literary work from this period?
- Watch the 'Romanticism' segment of the video. Pause to discuss the following:
- Compare Romanticism to Enlightenment.
- What are the prominent writers from this time period?
- Watch the 'Victorianism' section of the video. Pause to ask:
- Which type of literary work emerged during this period?
- What are some common themes from the Victorian period?
- Watch the 'Modernism' part of the video. Pause to discuss:
- What events in history influenced modernist writing?
- What are some major works of the Modern period?
- Watch the remainder of the video. Pause to discuss the following:
- Compare Postmodernism to Modernism.
- What are some important ideas reflected in Postmodernism?
- Name some postmodern authors.
- Pass out the printable worksheet to students.
- Have students complete the worksheet independently. Check answers together as a class.
Differentiating Literary Periods
Materials needed: copies of lesson, pens, paper, vocabulary word cards (one set per pair of students), chart paper, markers, copies of excerpts from works from each literary period.
- Divide students into pairs. Provide each pair with a set of vocabulary word cards.
- Have pairs sort the words into categories based on literary periods.
- Have student pairs discuss the meaning of each word and why it belongs in that period.
- Allow pairs to share their information with the class.
- Divide students into small groups. Provide each group with copies of the lesson, chart paper, markers, and copies of excerpts from works from each literary period.
- Have groups skim the excerpts to decide which literary period each work belongs to.
- Assign each group to compare the following periods:
- Medieval and Renaissance
- Renaissance and Enlightenment
- Enlightenment and Romanticism
- Romanticism and Victorianism
- Victorianism and Modernism
- Modernism and Postmodernism
- Have student groups read the excerpts from their assigned periods to find evidence that exemplifies that period.
- Have students create a T-chart on chart paper that compares their time periods. The charts should include:
- Time Period
- Literary Forms
- Examples from the text
- Have student groups present their information to the class.
- Discuss the incremental changes over time.
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