Major Periods of English & American Literature. An Overview. What is meant by “period”?. A period is a dominant mode, style, or type of literature within a specific historical context. A period is usually indicative of the controlling philosophical perspective of the time.
“The Cuckoo’s Song”, mystery plays
England 1660-1785 America 1750-1800
England: John Locke, John Milton (Paradise Lost), Alexander Pope (Essay on Man), Jonathon Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Henry Fielding (Tom Jones), Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe), Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Pride and Prejudice).
America: Benjamin Franklin (Poor Richard’s Almanack, autobiography), Thomas Paine (“Common Sense”), Thomas Jefferson (“The Declaration of Independence”), James Madison (“The Constitution of the United States”).
England 1785-1830 America 1800-1860
England: Robert Burns (“To a Mouse”), William Blake (Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience), William Wordsworth (Lyrical Ballads, “Tintern Abbey,” “Intimations of Immortality,” “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Kubla Kahn”), Lord Byron (“Don Juan”), Percy Bysshe Shelley (“Ozymandias”), Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Frankenstein), John Keats (“Ode on a Grecian Urn”), Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe).
America: Washington Irving (“Rip Van Winkle,” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), Edgar Allan Poe (“The Raven,” Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Philosophy of Composition”), James Fennimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans), Herman Melville (Moby-Dick, Billy Budd), Nathaniel Hawthorne (Twice-Told Tales, The Scarlet Letter), William Cullen Bryant (“To a Waterfowl”), Oliver Wendell Holmes (“The Chambered Nautilus”), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (“Paul Revere’s Ride”), James Russell Lowell (“The First Snowfall”).
American Transcendentalism (Romantic philosophy)
Charles Dickens (David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations), George Eliot (Middlemarch), Thomas Hardy (Tess of the D’Ubervilles), Robert Louis Stevenson (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Rudyard Kipling (Jungle Book), Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), Charlotte Brontë (Jane Eyre), Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (In Memoriam), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Sonnets from the Portuguese), Robert Browning (“My Last Duchess”), Matthew Arnold (“Dover Beach”), Oscar Wilde (The Importance of Being Earnest).
Naturalism – hyper-realism
Ezra Pound (The Fourth Canto), T.S. Eliot (Prufrock and other Observations, The Waste Land, “The Hollow Men”), W.B. Yeats (The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems, The Swans at Coole), H.D. (“Pear Tree”), Wallace Stevens (Harmonium), William Carlos Williams (“The Red Wheelbarrow,” “This Is Just to Say”), Robert Frost (Mending Wall, The Road Not Taken).
James Joyce (Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), Franz Kafka (The Metamorphosis, The Trial, The Castle), Ernest Hemingway (In Our Time, The Sun Also Rises), William Faulkner (As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), John Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath), Thornton Wilder (Our Town, The Bridge at San Luis Rey), D.H. Lawrence (The Rainbow), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse).
Samuel Beckett (Waiting for Godot), Gabriel Garcia Marques (One Hundred Years of Solitude), William Burroughs (Naked Lunch), J.D. Salinger (A Catcher in the Rye), Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse Five), Thomas Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow), John Updike (Rabbit Run), Phillip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint, American Pastoral), J.M. Coetzee (Life & Times of Michael K), Joyce Carol Oates (“Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”), Margaret Atwood (The Handmaiden’s Tale), Cormac McCarthy (Blood Meridian), Allen Ginsberg (Howl and Other Poems), Charles Bukowski (The Last Night of the Earth Poems).