Ch 15: Periods of American Literature

About This Chapter

Call to mind what you know about the periods of American literature by going through this chapter. Take a closer look at the video lessons to recall details about how historical events and movements influenced these different literary periods.

Periods of American Literature - Chapter Summary

Read-up on the periods of American literature by opening up the lessons found in this chapter. Get reacquainted with the timeline of American literature from Colonial and Native American literature all the way through to more contemporary authors and their works. Other topics addressed in this chapter include:

  • Art and literature during the American Romantic period
  • American literature and the Dark Romantics
  • Influences of Transcendentalism
  • Literary Realism as a response to Romanticism
  • American literature and Modernism
  • Modernist poetry style shift and E.A. Robinson
  • Works from the Jazz Age and the Harlem Renaissance
  • Elements of the Contemporary period
  • Examples and terms for examining American poetry

One of the ways our study materials can help you get reacquainted with this information about the periods of American literature includes our specific technique of highlighting key terms and concepts with bold and italicized lettering. This formatting trick points you directly to the most essential information that you need to know. Doing so can help you recognize vocabulary words and memorize definitions, as you may need to know these terms for questions on upcoming exams.

The format we use for all of our transcripts and article-style lessons is done with you in mind. We build this information to read like a short study guide, and we construct these guides in a straight-forward, linear fashion. All of the headers indicate main concepts within a lesson. Body paragraphs go through the details of those main concepts, providing you with such info as definitions, background information, examples, and more. Visual aids are often included as well, either in the form of graphics or in video lessons.

11 Lessons in Chapter 15: Periods of American Literature
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
Native American and Colonial Literature

1. Native American and Colonial Literature

Native American and colonial literature provides readers insight into the experiences, traditions and hardships in early America. Explore thematic elements of Native American oral traditions and puritan writing, and identify the two types of political writing in early America.

The Romantic Period in American Literature and Art

2. The Romantic Period in American Literature and Art

American Romantic art and literature were characterized by five main ideas. Explore the American Romantic Period and its ideas: imagination, individuality, nature as a source of spirituality, wisdom from the past, and the common man as a hero.

The Dark Romantics in American Literature

3. The Dark Romantics in American Literature

The Dark Romantic works of the 1840s-1860s are best known for use of dark symbolism and horrific themes, and also for a focus on the psychological effects of guilt and sin. Explore the roles and impacts of the Dark Romantics in American literature.

Transcendentalism: Impact on American Literature

4. Transcendentalism: Impact on American Literature

Between the 1830s and 1850s, American authors wrote Transcendentalist works promoting intuitive thought and personal spirituality. Explore Transcendentalism, its ideas, its most important figures, and its impact on American literature.

The Literary Realism Movement: A Response to Romanticism

5. The Literary Realism Movement: A Response to Romanticism

Literary Realism was a style and type of writing from 1865 to 1910 that emerged as a response to (and rejection of) Romanticism. Learn more about: the changes in the U.S. that led to the growth of Realism; important authors of the time including Mark Twain, Rebecca Harding Davis, and Henry James; and an aspect of Realism known as Regionalism.

Modernism in American Literature

6. Modernism in American Literature

Modernism was an artistic movement that impacted American literature. Explore the emergence of modernism in literature, the characteristics of modernist writing, and identify authors from the modernism period.

E.A. Robinson and the Shift in Modernist Poetry Style

7. E.A. Robinson and the Shift in Modernist Poetry Style

E.A. Robinson was one of America's first Modernist poets. Explore Robinson's work to understand modern poetry and recognize the shift in modernist poetry style. Consider how the Industrial Revolution and World War I informed the themes and elements of Modernist poetry.

The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age

8. The Harlem Renaissance: Novels and Poetry from the Jazz Age

The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of Black American art, literature and music in the 1920s and 1930s. Discover some of the influences that led to the Harlem Renaissance (Jim Crow laws, the Migration North, and the Jazz Age) and some of the many influential Black novels, poetry and voices that came out of the Harlem Renaissance including W.E.B. DuBois, Alain Locke, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Claude McKay.

The Contemporary Period in American Literature

9. The Contemporary Period in American Literature

The American Contemporary period (1945 - present) questions the goodness of humanity, explores human consciousness, and upends social norms. Discover the period's divergence from Modernism, the effects of World War II on the American literary landscape, and the pressures of conformity in the post-war consciousness.

Contemporary American Literature: Authors and Major Works

10. Contemporary American Literature: Authors and Major Works

To understand contemporary American literature, readers must recognize that generally, the main characters of contemporary works are on a quest for identity. Explore some of the more renowned authors in contemporary American literature, and examine their major works to understand expressionism and elements of style, including juxtaposition.

Analyzing American Poetry: Terms and Examples

11. Analyzing American Poetry: Terms and Examples

When analyzing American poetry, common literary techniques can be used to describe the poem's meaning and significance. Learn about the terms of simile, metaphor, personification, symbolism, and read examples of each.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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