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American Literature Timeline. Ashley McIntyre. Colonial 1650-1750. The Colonial movement was mostly instructional. It was to spread the word of God, and help the corrupted-which was everyone. This style of writing is seen in plain writing, in the form of diaries, sermons, and personal notes.

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colonial 1650 1750
  • The Colonial movement was mostly instructional. It was to spread the word of God, and help the corrupted-which was everyone.
  • This style of writing is seen in plain writing, in the form of diaries, sermons, and personal notes.
  • Edward Johnson’s Wonder-Working Providence
age of reason 1750 1800
Age of Reason1750-1800
  • This movement was generally in an ornate style
  • The work in this literary movement is also seen in persuasive writing, political pamphlets, and travel writing.
  • This was a good movement for America. It increased patriotism, and it brought about a common ground where issues were agreed on
  • The reading encouraged the reader to support the Revolutionary War and taught the readers how to understand what they were reading.

Thomas Paine

Some examples of the work from this movement is Benjamin Franklin’s “The Autobiography”, which is about his life, and is split into four different parts.

Another example is Thomas Paine’s work such as “The Age of Reason” and “Rights of Man”

transcendentalism 1840 1860
  • Transcendentalism is a very important part of American literature that went from about 1836 to 1860.
  • The style was very dark, the characters depressed, and the scene mysterious.
  • The purpose of this style is to find “truth” through various senses, and often left the reader with something to contemplate.
  • This style is seen in poems, and novels.

-Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

-Thoreau's Walden



Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle

  • This movement gave readers a chance to read more imaginative work, and often came in the form of short stories, or poems.
  • There is more focus on feelings, rather than reason, which was very different from the previous Realism movement.
  • Though the work was feeling and imaginary based, it started important debates on slavery.

Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickenson’s poems are great examples of the Romanticism movement.

As is “The Custom-House” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

transcendentalism 1840 18601
  • Transcendentalism is recognized by its depressed characters.
  • It is also recognized by the seemingly endless horrible situations.
  • Symbolism was often used in this style of writing, and it was often very real, rather than being like a fairy tale where there is a happy ending.
  • It is seen in poems, short stories, and novels

Edgar Allen Poe

Famous Transcendentalism writers are H. D. Thoreau, Edgar Allan Poe “The Black Cat” and Emerson’s poems and essays.

realism 1855 1900
  • Realism is also a form of art, which an artist creates something that accurately represents the model as it is, which is where the name realism came from-not like this background.
  • Books that were a part of the Realism movement were very objective, and gave the reader perfect freedom to have whatever opinion they wanted on the work.
  • This is seen mainly in short stories and novels.
  • A good example of work from the Realism movement is Edward Johnson’s Wonder-Working Providence
  • Another great example is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin” by Mark Twain
the moderns 1900 1950
The Moderns1900-1950
  • The Modern movement brought pride in the American dream, often in the form of poems, plays, and novels.
  • During this movement authors strived to find an individual style.
  • This style brought pride in being America, and the country was thought of as the land of Eden

A great example of the Modern movement is “The Great Gatsby” by John Fitzgerald.

Some other good examples are Steinbeck, and Hemmingway’s short stories.

harlem renaissance 1920s
Harlem Renaissance1920s
  • This movement was very empowering for African Americans, because before this time literature portrayed African Americans in very stereotypical way. In this movement African Americans were revealed to be complex characters.
  • The Harlem Renaissance is agreed to help start gospel music.
  • Poems from this movement are often in “blues form”

Examples of work from this movement is Zora Neil’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.

Langston Hughes poems are also good examples of work from this period.

post modernism contemporary 1950 present
Post Modernism/Contemporary1950-Present
  • Post Modernism and Contemporary can be thought of as two movements, but their differences are not big enough to separate them, in my opinion.
  • Both movements blur the line between fiction and nonfiction, and either have no heroes, or anti-heroes, respectively.
  • One difference between the two, is Post Modernism usually has no humor, while Contemporary may have ironic humor.
  • Post Modernism:
  • Norman Mailer’s “The Naked and the Dead and The Executioner's Song”
  • Capote’s “In Cold Blood”
  • Contemporary:
  • Charles Frazier's “Cold Mountain”
  • Orson Card’s “Ender’s Game”
works cited
Works Cited
  • Lye, John. "Modern Literature." American Literature on the Web. 29 Sept. 1997. 12 Apr. 2006 .
  • N/a. "Langston Hughes." Wikipedia. 12 Apr. 2006 .
  • N/a. "Literary Periods and their Characteristics." Teach and Learn. 12 Apr. 2006 .
  • N/a. "Romanticism." Wikipedia. 12 Apr. 2006 .
  • I also used wikipedia to research “Enders Game”, Norman Wailer, Truman Capote, “Cold Mountain”, Edward Johnston, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickenson," The Custom-House”, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Edward Johnston.