English, American and postcolonial literature Flashcards Preview

Literary Terms and Criticism > English, American and postcolonial literature > Flashcards

Flashcards in English, American and postcolonial literature Deck (47)
Loading flashcards...

Victorian Literature time period

Period ca. 1830-1900 


Renaissance literature or Modern literature time period

Period: ca. 1500-1600 (slight overlap with Medieval lit) 


characteristics of postmodernist literature (2)

  1. Experimental form of writing, which can be found in poetry, drama and fiction
  2. It moves beyond the methods of the modernists in finding a new way of writing about life in a confusing world. 


What is a historical context?

An historical context means it belongs to a particular historical period as writers tend to have similar concerns and often similar values.


Old English or Anglo-Saxon Literature time period

BEFORE the Norman Conquest in 1066. 


Victorian Literature examples

  1. Tennyson
  2. Browning
  3. Charles Dickens
  4. George Eliot


What is a mode an author might choose to write in?

a mode is a recognized type or kind of work within a genre (such as the realistic novel, or a sonnet)


Late 19th C - 20th C were also called modernists

end in 1920s as people get more concerned with the daily world than experiments = WOII

  1. difficult texts
  2. but the difficulty enacts the problems the artist is having in making sense of the world 


Two contexts any work can be seen in

a genre (or generic) context and a historical context. 


Characteristics African-American Literature (8)

  1. often characterized by a complex dual relationship between African and European cultural heritage
  2. women's place in society (double oppression)
  3. postcolonial lit questions traditional order and exposes values (e.g. white male order against those who do not fit the Brit/Am. middle classes (women, poor, ethnic groups))
  4. attention to literature constructing identities and mythologies to become aware that there's both African-Americanism and American-Africanism
  5. order is CONSTRUCTED
  6. aware of diversity of traditions forming literature (also Black British, Asian British, ... writers).
  7. Contemporary literature is more global and attempts to see how the past has ordered (constructed) the present as well as understanding that complex present

= no attempt to create order out of chaos or a new order, as order itself is a constructed problem forming people and their identities 


Middle English or Medieval Literature characteristics (7)

  1. narrative poems
  2. lyric poetry
  3. drama (miracle and morality plays)
  4. very Christian! (also after medieval period, but slowly disappears e.g. Edmund Spenser 1596, Faerie Queene)
  5. sophisticated
  6. women mystics
  7. pattern: gap between the Christian ideal and the reality of life in this imperfect world 


Middle English or Medieval Literature time period

 ca. 1066-1550 


What are postmodernist characteristics (5)?

  1. refusal to distinguish between surface level and depth
  2. refusal to distinguish between high and low art
  3. stress on textual nature of events so that history is just another form of narrative
  4. endless playfulness about the writing that draws attention to itself
  5. open endings


Characteristics 18th C time period (5)

  1. God is still the only true source of order, but attention more on how people are distracted and tempted by secular concerns
  2. end of 17th C, focus entirely secular
  3. religious poetry replaced by social poetry
  4. rise of the novel (focus on social life, lives of individuals in a complex society and if harmony and balance can be created within society = Richardson and Fielding)
  5. pattern: gap between how things could or should be in society and how they really are 


What are the historical periods of literature in English? (10 - 12 incl 2 side literatures)

  1. Old English or Anglo-Saxon literature
  2. Middle English or medieval literature
  3. Renaissance literature
  4. 18th C literature
  5. Romantic period literature
  6. Victorian literature
  7. late 19th and 20th C literature
  8. modernist literature
  9. (American literature)
  10. postmodernist literature
  11. postcolonial literature
  12. (African-American literature)


Examples American Literature

  1. Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  2. Ralph Waldo Emerson - essays
  3. Walt Whitman
  4. Emily Dickinson
  5. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
  6. Melville - Moby Dick


What are some major writers/examples of postcolonial literature?

  • Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart)
  • Patrick White (The Eye of the Storm)
  • Keri Hulme's (The Bone People)
  • Doris Lessing (The Grass is Singing)
  • Teju Cole (Open City)
  • ...


Victorian literature events

  1. massive social reform through industrialization
  2. worldwide expansion trade creating complex society
  3. intellectual change (Darwin's the Origin of Specis 1859) >< religion and science dominates
  4. Marx, Communis Manifesto + Das Kapital
  5. Freud's psychoanalysis on the human psyche (and its complex often dark and hidden aspects) 


What is a genre/generic context?

A genre context is the type or class of literature it is written in 


Late 19th and 20th C Literature time period

Late 19th-20th C (overlap with Victorian literature, but from 1890?s - 1999) 


renaissance literature or modern literature examples

  1. Shakespeare
  2. Marlowe
  3. Donne
  4. Jonson
  5. Milton


Late 19th C - 20th C examples

  1. Thomas Hardy
  2. Joseph Conrad
  3. James Joyce
  4. Virginia Woolf
  5. Katherine Mansfield
  6. Dorothy Richardson
  7. Lawrence
  8. T.S. Eliot
  9. Yeats


Middle English or Medieval literature important events

 Events show stasis >< turbulent world

  1. Black Death 1348
  2. Peasant's revolt 1381
  3. overthrow Richard II as king 1399
  4. Wars of the Roses 1455-85 


difference between American literature and English literature 

  1. English novel emerged and comments on a society
    • English novel and poetry mostly return to safe, traditional, realistic forms as a reaction to two WO >< English drama discusses the changes
  2. American novel is not immersed in the same way. It takes on a symbolic journey (often into the mind)
    • American novel, poetry and drama all very strong, more experimental and innovating!
    • Often referred to as 'romances' because Am. writers move away from society and go into dream, myth and conjecture.
    • closer link with European culture near 20th C
    • after modernist era (1920s), American literature is way more adventurous than Eng. because it was less affected by WOI
    • shift away from fragmentary modernist art (like T.S. Eliot), attempting to find a new pattern when ordering life in postwar era
    • pattern broken again in WOII = further need to rethink ideas about social formation 


renaissance literature or modern literature events

Events present conflict between king's traditional status and authority opposed to change of social order

  1.  Civil War 1642-51 


18th C literature time period

ca. 1660-1790 


Late 19th C - 20th C literature characteristics (modernists) (4)

  1. not even the novel can confront life anymore
  2. life is overwhelmingly confusing and complicated, impossible to make sense of
  3. still decline of religious faith and thus no secure perspective or framework
  4. innovative/experimenting in poetry, novel (music, painting) through rapid change and alteration of society's structure

= Events - WOI (14-18) --> tragic, terrifying and pure chaos 


Examples of modernists (part of late 19th -20th C literature) 

  1. T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (fractured society - poet that can find no order or consolation)
  2. Woolf
  3. Joyce

All are:

  1. innovative
  2. experimental
  3. fragmented 


Important events during Romantic Literature period that influenced its form

Events were mostly rebellious against the old order of things

  1. French Revolution 1789
  2. political reform in England ca. 1760 


Characteristics of Romantic Literature (5)

  1. reaction against the social focus of 18th C literature with its stress on social manners and regulation
  2. God nor society is source of order
  3. romantics want to find harmony in life which is at one with a pattern of the natural world
  4. stress on imagination, where source of order is internalized and the mind interacts with what is seen in nature (Wordsworth)
  5. life remains disordered and puzzling