American Literature EOCT Time Periods
Native American Period, pre -1620-1840
An oral tradition of song and stories. Focuses on the natural world and the sacred world and the
importance of land and place.
Colonial Period or Puritanism, 1620-1750
During this period, the newly arrived colonists were creating villages and towns and establishing new governments, while protesting the old regime of the British. Literature of this period reflects the religious influence of the Puritans.
Revolutionary Period and Nationalism, 1750-1815
During this period, American writers focused on explaining and justifying the Revolution.
Romanticism and Transcendentalism, 1800-1855
A philosophical attitude that developed in reaction to previous decades in which reason and rational thought dominated. Writers celebrated individualism, nature, imagination, creativity, and emotions. It stressed respect for the individual and the intuitive pursuit of a greater truth.
This period, which includes the Civil War, significant industrial invention, and extensive westward expansion, is one of the most turbulent and creative in American history. Characters reflected real people, determined yet flawed, struggling to overcome the difficulties of war, family, natural disasters, and human weaknesses.
This period, which overlaps with Realism, was an extension of realism. Writers during this period focused on grim reality, observing characters much as scientists might observe animals. They sought to discover the natural laws that govern human lives.
Modernism Period, 1900-1950
Wars, economic prosperity, along with the Depression, commercialism, and increased population, marked the first half of the Twentieth Century in the United States. The independent, individualistic spirit that was distinctively
American seemed threatened. Constructed their works out of fragments, omitting expositions, transitions, resolutions, and explanations used in traditional literature. In poetry, they abandoned traditional forms and meters in favor of free verse, whose rhythms they improvised to suit individual poems.
A literary movement that flourished between 1912 and 1927 comprised of American and British poets. The movement’s goal was to achieve clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images.
A period in the 1920s when African-American achievements in art, music, and literature flourished.
Postmodern Period, 1950-present
This period includes unprecedented prosperity, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Rights Movement, the end of the Cold War, and the transformation of the world order. Writers of this period have embraced this dismantling of the old reality.