American Literary Timeline - Red Hook Central Schools
American Literary Timeline Colonial Period Age of Reason Romanticism o Transcendentalism o Anti-Transcendentalism Realism
o Naturalism o Regionalism Modernism Contemporary/Postmodernism Colonial Period 1620-1750 Paved the way for the rest of the countrys literature. Much of the writing was done by explorers and travelers, who were sending accounts of the New World back to Europe Others that dominated this era were the Puritans whose definition of good writing was writing that brought home a full awareness of the importance of
worshipping God and of the spiritual dangers that the soul faced on Earth, and the literature that was produced by the Puritans reflected this. Popular genres: sermons (see Jonathan Edwards), diaries, personal narratives Age of Reason / Revolutionary 1750-1800 Period when authors were focused more on their own reasoning rather than simply taking what the church taught as fact. Cultivation of patriotism. The main medium during this period were political pamphlets, essays, travel writings, speeches, and documents. Also during this period many reforms were either made or requested. For instance during this time the Declaration of
Independence was written. Abigail Adams Benjamin Franklin Thomas Jefferson Thomas Paine Romanticism 1800-1860 After the Age of Reason came to an end, the people of America were tired of reality; they wanted to see life as more than it was. This was the Era of Romantics. Popular genres: short stories, poems, and novels.
Traits: the imagination dominated, intuition ruled over fact, and there was a large emphasis on the individual/common man, and on nature or the natural world. Gothic literature was also introduced at this time, which is a sub-genre of Romanticism. This genre included stories about characters that had both good and evil traits. Gothic literature also incorporated the use of supernatural elements. Washington Irving Nathaniel Hawthorne Edgar Allan Poe Herman Melville
Transcendentalism 1830-1880 Subgenre of Romanticism Stressed individualism, maturity and self-reliance. Authors used nature to gain knowledge or to return to a life of self-reliance and individualism. Also stressed the fundamental idea of a unity between God and the world, that each person was a microcosm for the world. Transcendentalists were know for their concern for reform (abolition, womens rights, etc) Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau Walt Whitman [Sarah] Margaret Fuller Anti-Transcendentalism 1830-1880 Also called Gothic Literature. As opposed to Transcendentalism, which focused on the natural world and its relationship to humanity, and the quest for understanding of the human spirit, AntiTranscendentalism focused on the limitations of mankind, and its potential destructiveness of the human spirit. For instance, water brings life, but its excess, i.e. a flood, can bring death and destruction.
Acknowledged sin, pain, and evil Supernatural forces were common Nathaniel Hawthorne Herman Melville Realism 1850-1900 Took place during the Civil War. At a time when a war was taking place, people were tired of Transcendentalism and AntiTranscendentalism. For one thing they were both extremes of the same spectrum: one was nice and happy and frilly; the other was dark and destructive. People wanted to see things how they
were, so Realism came about. Realism also came about as a reaction to Romanticism, in which there were heroic characters, and adventures, with strange and unfamiliar settings. In response, Realist authors tried to write truthfully and objectively about ordinary characters in ordinary situations. Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] Bret Harte Sarah Orne Jewett James Henry
Naturalism 1865-1915 Subgenre of Realism Viewed people as hapless victims of immutable natural laws. Free will is an illusion, and things that happen in the universe, happen and could not happen any other way. A defining characteristic of Naturalism is that its characters lives are shaped by forces they cannot control. Stephen Crane Jack London
Theodore Dreiser Frank Norris Regionalism 1865-1915 Subset of Realism Authors would write a story about specific geographical areas. By writing about regions the authors explore the culture of that area, including its languages, customs, beliefs, and history. Willa Cather
William Faulkner Kate Chopin Frank Norris Modernism 1900-1950 One of the most experimental types of writing. Modernist authors used fragments, stream of consciousness, and interior dialogue. The main thing that authors were trying to achieve with Modernism was a unique style, one for which they could stand out.
During this period Technology was taking incredible leaps and two World Wars took place; there was destruction on a global scale. The younger generation began to take over the main stage. Ernest Hemingway F. Scott Fitzgerald John Steinbeck Robert Frost /Contemporary 1950-present Authors are writing in a plethora of genres.
There are more different types of writing being done at one time than at any other period in history: fantasy, fiction, science fiction, horror, political writings, romantics, plays, and poems, anything and everything. J. D. Salinger Stephen King Joyce Carol Oates End of Power Point The following slides are accessible from the slides above
Edward Taylor (c. 1644-1729) Taylor was a minister who studied at Harvard College, and whose works were never published by Taylor, himself, until they were discovered in the 1930s. He wrote such pieces as Metrical History of Christianity, which is mainly a history of Christian martyrs. Colonial Period John Woolman (1720-1772)
The best known work by a Quaker was written by this man, simply named Journal in 1774. This journal was a complete and full account of his life in a pure, heartfelt style of great sweetness that has attracted many American and English writers for many years after Woolman had passed away. Colonial Period Anne Bradstreet (c. 1612-1672) The first publication of a book of
poems in America was also the first publication by a woman in America. She also wrote The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America in 1650. Colonial Period William Bradford (1590-1657) He was elected governor of Plymouth shortly after the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. He was essentially the first historian of the new colonies. His
participation in the voyage of the Mayflower and being governor made him the ideal person for this job. He wrote Of Plymouth Plantation in 1651. Colonial Period Abigail Adams (1744-1818) She wrote letters that campaigned for womens rights. Her grandson, Charles Francis Adams, published The Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail During the Revolution, which was
just what it said it was: letters written by Abigail and her husband. Age of Reason Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Franklin is well known worldwide for his discoveries in the world of science and also for works that he contributed to, such as the Declaration of Independence, and his theories on electricity. His works were all new ideas, things people never thought of before because they always
took what they got as fact. Age of Reason Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) Jefferson is bets know for writing the Declaration of Independence. The document came about as a response to these times; people were thinking for themselves, and one of the major things the Americans discovered was that they didnt need England. So Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence to
formally state that. Age of Reason Thomas Paine (1737-1809) Paine wrote mostly pamphlets that would spur ideas and immediate action. In the document "The American Crisis," Paine wrote about the oppression that America suffered from Britain, and propelled America into a war with Britain. Paine, to this day, is well known for his propaganda.
Age of Reason Washington Irving (1789-1851) Irving was the first famous American author; hes also known as the Father of American Literature. He wrote travel books, short stories, and satires. Some of his works include; Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle, and Devil and Tom Walker. Romanticism
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) Poe had a bad childhood that made him despise the world, and his works reflected this. He is credited for creating the modern short story and the detective story. He also challenged two long-standing theories: one, that a poem had to be long, and two, that a poem had to teach you something. Some of his works include, "The Raven,", "Bells," "Annabelle Lee," and "Dream." Romanticism
Herman Melville (1819-1891) In his time Melville was not entirely recognized, however, in the more recent years he has been considered one of the top rated novelists of all time. He is most well known for his epic novel Moby Dick. Romanticism Anti-Transcendentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Emerson had a strong sense of a religious mission, though he was accused of subverting Christianity. He left the church saying, to be a good minister, it was necessary to leave the church. One of his major works includes Nature, published in 1836. Transcendentalism
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Thoreau Lived his life, to do just that, live his life. He was never rich and, for the most part, lived with little money all his life. The work he is most well known for is Walden, published in 1854. Transcendentalism Walt Whitman (1819-1892) Whitman was born on Long Island and was, for
most of his job life, a carpenter; he was a man of the people. Most of his learning career was done on his own, after he left school at the age of eleven. His major work was entitled Leaves of Grass, published in 1855. Over the years he made many rewrites for this book. Some of his famous poems are, "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," and "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." Transcendentalism [Sarah] Margaret Fuller
(1810-1850) Fuller was born in Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. She learned Greek and Latin at a very young age, and later learned German and Italian. After her father, a congressman, died she became a schoolteacher. She worked with Ralph Emerson as editor of The Dial, a literary and philosophical journal, for which she wrote many articles including The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Woman, Woman versus Man, in which she spoke for the equality of men and women. Some of her other works include Summer on the Lakes, published in 1844, and Women in the Nineteenth Century, published in 1845.
Transcendentalism Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) Hawthorne was a Puritan who utilized his writings to express his dark, and gloomy outlook on life. Some of his works include; Twice Told Tales, published in 1837; The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850; and The House of the Seven Gables, published in 1851. Anti-Transcendentalism
Romanticism Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens] (1835-1910) Twain is know by many as the greatest American humorist and one of our greatest novelists. He was known for using vernacular, exaggeration, and deadpan narration to create humor. Twain wrote many great novels including, the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published in 1876 and The Prince and the Pauper,
published in 1881. Realism Bret Harte (1836-1902) Harte was born in New York, and later worked in California on The California writing stories. He worked with other wellknown authors while at The California, authors like Mark Twain, Charles Warren Stoddard, and Prentice Mulford. He was later appointed Secretary of the United States Branch Mint at San Francisco; he held this office until 1870. He then became the editor of Overland Monthly, where he published "The Luck of Roaring Camp," which brought him instant fame. Some of his works included; "The Heathen Chinese, a poem
published in 1870, Devil's Ford, "The Twins of Table Mountain," "By Shore and Sedge," and "A Millionaire of Rough and Ready." Realism Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909) Jewett grew up with books all around her, it was only fitting that she grow up to be a writer. The early years of her life were much like the story she wrote in A Country Doctor. Some of her works include; Miss Tempy's Watchers, originally published in 1888; The Dulham
Ladies, originally published in 1886; A White Heron, originally published in 1886. Realism James Henry (1843-1916 ) His father was an important theorist and lecturer, and his older brother was a famous American philosopher, William James. He attended Harvard College. His early stories depict the leisurely life of the well-to-do. In his time he wrote many short stories including; The Short Story of a Year, published in 1865;
Gabrielle de Bergerac, published in 1869; and Guest's Confession. Realism Stephen Crane (1871-1900) Cranes writing was known for attacking patriotism, individualism, and organized religion; it also confronted the meaninglessness of the world. His work was also very well known for its imagery and symbolism. The work he is most famous for is Red Badge of Courage, which was set in the Civil War. Some
of his other works include The Open Boat, published in 1894 and An Episode of War, originally published in 1890. Naturalism Jack London (1876-1916) London was born in San Francisco, California; he lived a hard life, switching from job to job for whatever money he could get, after his father abandoned him at a young age. He is one of the most highly acclaimed writers of all time; his stories of life and death struggles are vivid and
engaging. Some of his works include; The Call of the Wild, published in 1903; White Fang, published in 1906; Lost Face, published in 1910; and The Night Born, published in 1913. Naturalism Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) One of Dreiser's favorite fictional devices was the use of contrast between the rich and the poor, the urbane and the unsophisticated, and the power brokers and the helpless. Some of his works include; Twelve Men, published in
1919; A Book About Myself, published in 1922; The Color of a Great City, published in 1923; An American Tragedy, published in 1925. Naturalism Frank Norris (1870-1902) Norris studied in Paris, at the Univ. of California, and Harvard. He also spent several years as a war correspondent in South Africa (1895-96) and Cuba (1898). Some of his works include; The Responsibilities of the Novelist, published
in 1903; The Octopus, published in 1901; and The Pit published in 1903. Naturalism Willa Cather (1873-1947) Cather has been called one of the most interesting female writers in American literary history. She was a teacher, a journalist and a critic, as well as a writer. She has a talent for presenting settings and characters that are rich in language and imagery. She also won a Pulitzer Prize. Some of her works include; April
Twilights, published in 1903; and O Pioneers!, published in 1913. Regionalism William Faulkner (1897-1962) He served in both the Canadian and the British Royal Air Force. He wrote most of his novels on a farm in Oxford, Mississippi. Some of his novels include The Hamlet, published in 1940; The Town, published in 1957; and The Mansion, published in 1959.
Regionalism Kate Chopin (1851-1904) Chopin loved literature as a child and secluded herself in it after her grandmothers death. She never achieved much until 1884 when she finally decided to pursue a career in writing. Some of her writing includes "Desirees Baby," published in 1893 and "The Awakening," published in 1899.
Regionalism Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize and Noble Peace Prize for Literature. He used concise, direct, spare, objective, precise, rhythmic writing styles to create larger than life heroes, big game hunters, etc. Some of his works include; The Sun Also Rises, published in 1922; A Farewell To Arms published in 1929; For Whom the Bell Tolls, published in 1940. Modernism
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) Fitzgerald wrote about the times. In his novel The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, he wrote about the roaring twenties, a time when no one cared about the future and they had fun with what they had then. Some of his other works include; The Side of Paradise, published in 1920; and The Beautiful and the Damned, published in 1922. Modernism
John Steinbeck (1902-1968) Steinbeck wrote about both the pains and joys of life. The Grapes of Wraith, published in 1939, his most well known work told the story of families trying to survive and stay together during the depression. In other works like Tortilla Flat, published in 1935, Steinbeck wrote about the joys of life. Some of his other works include East of Eden, published in 1952; Of Mice and Men, published in 1937; and The Pearl, published in 1947.
Modernism Robert Frost (1874-1963) Americas best known and most loved poet, Frost wrote his poems in a traditional verse form. He used the plain speech of rural New Englanders. Some of his works include; Death of the Hired Man, published in 1951; Birches, published in1920; and The Road Not Taken, published in 1920. Modernism
J. D. Salinger (b.1919) Salinger studied at NYU, and Columbia University. After which he decided to devote his life to his writing. His writing career was interrupted by World War I, where he served in the U.S. Army. His most well known work was his novel Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951, a novel about a high school student who tries to run away from his life that he thinks is phony. Some of his works are A Perfect Day for Bananafish published in 1948; For Esm With Love and Squalor, published in 1950.
Contemporary Stephen King (b.1947) King writes novels that frighten people. Some of his major works are; Carrie published in 1974; The Shining, publishing in 1998; Salem's Lot, published in 1993; and The Stand, published in 1991. Contemporary
Joyce Carol Oates (b.1938) Oates received a typewriter at the age of fourteen and trained herself to write novel after novel through high school and college. She earned an M.A. in English at the University of Wisconsin. Some of her works include; Blonde, published in 2000; Wonderland, published in 1971; and The Tattooed Girl, published in 2003. Contemporary Robert Jordan (b.1948) He went to the Citadel, the Military College of
South Carolina, where he received a degree in physics. Jordans main area of expertise is in the genre of fantasy. He is currently in the process of writing a series of novels entitled The Wheel of Time. Some of the novels from this series are The Eye of the World, published in 1990; Crossroads of Twilight, published in 2003; and The Novel: New Spring published in 2004. Contemporary
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