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Education, English

Literature Evolution Over Time

Literature periods can be described as the time span in which literature enjoyed intellectual, religious, and artistic effects on the population. Following literature’s evolution over time, scholars more often group pieces of literature from a specific time frame together and then label it as a period, as discussed in this paper.

The pre-settlement period was interesting because most stories were not written down due to a lack of papers and printing press. During this period, stories were passed from one generation to another mainly by word of mouth, that is, oral tradition (Reuben). The quality of the performance was emphasized. The types of oral narratives that were performed included trickster tales and hero stories. Oral literature has existed for a very long time. Before the writing system was introduced, stories were transmitted orally from one generation to another. The term Oral literature originated from here; during the early stages of human history, oral tradition conserved literary works. When later writing systems were invented and morality was replaced by literacy, such literature was eventually written down in fixed text form (Carpenter). This later ushered in the settlement period, which saw the introduction of writing materials, and most literal works in oral form were converted to their written forms and stored.

The years between 1625 and 1675 are known as the Puritan period because Puritan standards existed for a period in England. The other reason is that the greatest literary figure at that time was a Puritan called John Milton (Bremer). The age produced several writers including one of the greatest literary leaders in the world, a few immortal books were also written during this time. The literature of this time was very diverse in character. The Age of Enlightenment followed thereafter. During this age, works of literature reflected the importance of enlightenment, and they started to emphasize instinct instead of judgment and restraint.

The Romantic Period began towards the end of the 18th century and came to an end in the year 1832 (Reuben). Generally, Romantic Literature can be described by its personal use of feelings, its excessive use of symbolism as a style, and the general feeling of exploration of nature and the supernatural. By the beginning of 1836, Transcendentalism was introduced. The Transcendentalists were radical thinkers (Shields). They rejected many common ideas and practices, especially organized religion. They believed that literature was a platform to liberate the world. They also placed serious emphasis on imagination. As an author or book lover imagines, he transcends himself.

After the Civil War, American literature moved into the Realism Period. Here, the common literature produced in this period was realistic fiction. Most realistic writers uncovered political corruption, championed human rights, and talked about economic equity, highlighting the difference between the wealthy few and the poor majority (Reuben). Realistic fiction puts emphasis on ordinary people as characters living in common places.

The modern period majorly points to British literature written since the commencement of World War 1 in 1914. The pioneers during and after World War 2 between 1939 and 1945 created Postmodernism that blends styles and literal genes. Postmodernism also balances literary genres, various styles, and an effort to break from modernist forms (Reuben). Following World War 2, between 1939 and 1945, the Postmodern Period of literature was developed. Postmodernism sought to bring together literary genres and styles while trying to break free of modernist forms.

Harlem Renaissance was a cultural movement of African Americans in the 1920s and 1930s that was situated in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City (Carpenter). The Renaissance involved writers and highbrows mostly associated with Harlem. It was during this time that, for the first time, talented black writers managed to produce an extensive body of literature, mostly an essay, art, and poetry. On the other hand, Post-Modern literature developed after World War 2 (Reuben). In a number of techniques, postmodern literary styles and ideas function to reject, argue, mock, and reverse the principles of modernist literature.

In conclusion, the present-day American literary scene is packed and varied with various pieces of literary works. These literature periods employed a technique that denotes a specific kind of subject matter being widely experienced the world over, either rebuking or supporting the very subject.

Works Cited

Bremer, Francis J., and Tom Webster. Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: a comprehensive encyclopedia. Vol. 2. Abc-Clio, 2006.
Carpenter, Frederic I. “American literature and the dream.” (1955).
Jong, L. de. Depression in Non-fiction Literature: An Exploration of The Effects on The Depressed Person and Significant Others Incorporating an Original Memoir. BS thesis. 2015.
Lucas, Stephen E. “The Enlightenment in America.” (1978): 59-63.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 10: Late 20th C. and Postmodernism – An Introduction.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature-A Research and Reference Guide. URL:http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap10/10intro.html 22 October 2016.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 3: Early Nineteenth Century and Romanticism – A Brief Introduction ” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature-A Research and Reference Guide. WWW URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap3/3intro.html 23 October 2016.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 4: American Transcendentalism: A Brief Introduction.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap4/4intro.html 25 October 2016.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 5: Late Nineteenth Century – American Realism – A Brief Introduction.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature-A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap5/5intro.html 26 October 2016.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 6: American Naturalism – A Brief Introduction.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature-A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap6/6intro.html 26 October 2016.
Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 7: Early Twentieth Century: American Modernism – An Introduction.” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature-A Research and Reference Guide. URL: http://www.paulreuben.website/pal/chap7/7intro.html 27 October 2016.
Shields Jr, E. Thomson. “The Literature of Exploration.” The Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature. 2008.

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