Periods of English Literature

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Anglo Saxon Period
Period between invasion of England by Teutonic tribes and the establishment of Norman rule. Literature came mostly form monasteries. Mostly poetry, nonfiction, and homilies.
Anglo Norman Period
Old English blended with French dialect of Norman victors as well as blending English and French forms of literature. Also called Early Middle English Period
Middle English Period
Between replacement of French by Middle English and appearance of definitively modern English writings. Steadily increasing nationalism. Humanism began to appear. Rich poetic age early on, but later weaker.
Renaissance Period
Period of transition to a modern world in Western Europe. Implied views of humanism, individualism. Beginning of commercial market for literature.
Early Tudor Age
Growing transition into ideals of the Renaissance. Revival of learning known as Humanism. Time of literary experimentation and borrowing from French and Italian writings.
Elizabethan Age
saw development of English drama to its highest level. Great outburst of lyric poetry and new interest in criticism.
Jacobean Age
Early on was a rich flowering of the Elizabethan and later showed attitudes characteristic of the Caroline Age. Breach between Puritans and Cavaliers widened. Growing realism in art and cynicism in thought. Greatest period of English drama.
Caroline Age
Dominated by two distinct groups- Cavaliers and Puritans. Literature was melancholy at times in response to decline of romanticism and classicism and scientific spirit.
Commonwealth Interregnum
Age of major prose works. Drama was somewhat underground due to theaters being officially closed. Transitional period. England was under Puritan rule.
Neoclassic Period
Reflected England’s strong reaction against Puritanism and the growing interest in scientific and philosophical thought. Classical ideas were more important than imagination and emotion. Also called Age of Reason.
Restoration Age
Reflected reaction against Puritanism, receptiveness to French influence, and dominance of classical point of view.
Augustan Age
Analogous to the rule of Roman Emperor Augustus, a time notable for perfection of letters and learning and high literary culture. Dominated by figures such as Swift, Pope, Addison, and Steele.
Age of Johnson
Transitional period, showed neoclassic yielding to romantic. Growing interest in Middle Ages folklore developed. Also called Age of Sensibility.
Romantic Period
First half- philosophical romanticism based on value in the individual, view of nature, and organic concept. Second half- impact of new science caused literature of doubt and questioning.
Age of the Romantic Movement
Publication of Lyrical Ballads (Wordsworth, Coleridge) marked beginning of three decades in which romanticism in triumphed in British letters. Also called Age of Sensibility.
Early Victorian Age
Time of gradual tempering of the romantic impulse and steady growth of realism in English letters. More attention to social issues and marked by doubt and uncertainties.
Realistic Period
Reaction to romanticism reached its peak in full-fledged realism, though by the beginning of WWI that had begun to come under attack.
Late Victorian Age
Saw full flowering of movement toward realism. Drama awoke under the impact of Ibsen and Celtic Renaissance. Advance of doctrine “art for art’s sake”
Edwardian Age
Marked by strong reaction in thought, conduct, and art to stiff propriety and conservatism of Victorian age. Typical attitude was critical and questioning.
Modern/Modernist Period
Flowering and experimentation in twenties, fell away in thirties, forties were followed by uncertainty, diminished age. Sixties gave way to anger and protest.
Georgian Age
Fundamental change in English life and thought. Flowering of talent in twenties, harshness of depression in thirties, destruction of much talent in forties.
Diminishing Age in English Literature
Marked by greatly weakened foreign influence and major internal economic and political problems. Lacked dominating literary voices.
Post-Modernist/Contemporary Period
In literature, a time of continuance and completion. England seemed to be groping for position and definition in a diminished world.
Categories: English Literature