American Literary History: Native American Period: 20,000 BC-Present Characteristics: The literature is as diverse as the cultures that created it, but there are often common elements such as stories explaining creation or natural forces. The narratives, myths, legends, songs and narratives were passed down in an oral tradition. Exploration Period: 1492-1607 Characteristics: The literature is composed of European writings that describe the explorers' travels and impressions of the continent and its Native people. The literature of this period comes to us in the form of letters and journals written by explorers as well as Native American tribal leaders Colonial Period: 1607-1765 Characteristics: The Colonial period was dominated by Puritan beliefs and thus literature of this period is usually historical, religious, or didactic. The first slave narratives were written at this time. Imaginative literature was rare; in some colonies, it was banned for being immoral. The literature of this period comes to us in the forms of tracts, polemics, journals, narratives, sermons, and some poetry Revolutionary Period: 1765-1790 Characteristics: The Revolutionary period usually refers to writings that are politically motivated, either in support of British rule, in support of American patriotism and independence, or relating to the Constitution. The writing at this time is dominated by political documents, speeches, and letters 1750-1800 is also known as the Period of Enlightenment because there is a lack of emphasis and dependence on the Bible and more use of common sense (logic) and science. There was not a divorce from the Bible but an adding to or expanding of the truths found there. American Literary History: Romantic Period (American Renaissance): 1828-1865 Characteristics: This period was the first major explosion of a distinctly American body of literature. Many of American literature's most well-known writers emerged during this time. Romanticism was a literary and artistic movement of the nineteenth century that arose in reaction against eighteenth-century Neoclassicism and placed a premium on fancy, imagination, emotion, nature, individuality, and exotica. Age of Transcendentalism: 1836-1860 Characteristics: Transcendentalism was an American literary and philosophical movement of the nineteenth century. The Transcendentalists, who were based in New England, believed that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” experience and thus are better guides to truth than are the senses and logical reason. Influenced by Romanticism, the Transcendentalists respected the individual spirit and the natural world, believing that divinity was present everywhere, in nature and in each person. Anti-Transcendentalists & Fireside Poets The anti-Transcendentalist (Hawthorne and Melville) rebelled against the philosophy that man is basically good. A third group, the Fireside Poets, wrote about more practical aspects of life such as dying and patriotism. Realism: 1865-1900 Characteristics: The post-Civil War period was an era of increased industrialization and urbanization as the nation attempted to recover emotionally, culturally, and politically from the aftermath of the war. Though there were still elements of romanticism, this period was considered realistic in its emphasis on unidealized and truthful depictions. Naturalism: 1900-1914 Characteristics: The literature is composed of European writings that describe the explorers' travels and impressions of the continent and its Native people. American Literary History: Modern Period: 1914-1939 Characteristics: A period in British and American literature spanning the years between WWI and WWII. Works in this period reflect the changing social, political, and cultural climate and are diverse, experimental, and nontraditional. An age of disillusionment and confusion—just look at what was happening in history in the US during these dates—this period brought us perhaps our best writers. The authors during this period raised all the great questions of life…but offered no answers. Imagism: 1912-1927 Imagism was a literary movement that flourished between 1912 and 1927. Led by Ezra Pound and Amy Lowell, the Imagist poets rejected nineteenth-century poetic forms and language. Instead, they wrote short poems that used ordinary language and free verse to create sharp, exact, concentrated pictures. Harlem Renaissance: 1920s-1930s The Harlem Renaissance was the first major burgeoning of visual, literary, and performing arts by African Americans concerned with African-American life, art, culture, and politics. The influence of the Harlem Renaissance remained strong for the remainder of the 20th century. Lost Generation: 1920s After WWI, a group of American writers grew increasingly disillusioned by, and resistant to, what they saw as hypocrisy in dominant American ideology and culture. Many of these writers left America in search of a more artistic life in London or Paris. Beat Writers: 1950s Beat Writers' writing was generally anti-traditional, anti-establishment, and antiintellectual. Prominent writers: Poetry: Allen Ginsberg's Howl, Lawrence Ferlinghetti; Prose: Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot; Novels: William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac.