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Periods Of Literary History

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Vera Skocic

on 20 November 2017

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Transcript of Periods Of Literary History



The Middle Ages

People use the phrase “Middle Ages” to describe Europe between the fall of Rome and the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century.

How did the English language evolve during this time?

The Enlightenment

Tracing the evolution of literature through time scholars often group works from a certain timeframe together and label it as a period or movement.

In the Western tradition, the periods of literary history are roughly as follows...
Periods Of Literary History
Old English = West Germanic dialect
Around year 450 new invaders arrive in the Celtic England. Germanic tribes Angles, Saxons and Jutes , all speaking various germanic dialects
Vikings/Old Norse impact
core vocabulary, town names etc

Before Old English was introduced, England was under the rule of Roman Empire. Latin was the language of power and various Celtic languages were spoken among common people.
The Canterbury Tales
by Geoffrey Chaucer

is a significant work as it is considered a determining factor for English to develop into a national language... Middle English
The Canterbury Tales
is a collection of 20 stories which give a realistic picture of medieval society, often with a touch of satire and humour.

Norman invasion in 1066; a Frenchman, "William the Conquerer", became the King of England
About 10,000 French words were incorporated in the English language.

Social, and cultural changes and changes in language and literature.
French was introduced as the language of the royal court and in the law.
French became the language of the kings and nobility of England for more than 300 years
A range of literary genres emerged, including chivalric romances, religious songs, folk ballads, drama, morality and miracle plays.
The Elizabethan Age is considered a great age in literary history, particularly for drama....

Considered the greatest English-speaking writer in history and known as England’s national poet; the bard,
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) has had more theatrical works performed than any other playwright.

Birth of democracy and liberalism
The French Revolution 1789-1799
The American Constitution 1789

By the end of the 18th century there is a return to emotion; focused upon instinct, feeling, imagination, and sometimes the sublime and mysterious.

The Romantics reacted against the value that the Enlightenment placed on science, reason, and technology.
Many writers in the Romantic period emphasized feeling and imagination and looked toward nature for insight into the divine.

(Percy B. Sh
elley, Keats, Lord Byron...)

The Romantic period also featured significant innovations in the
form like the Gothic fiction (Mary Shelley, E.A. Poe ...)

VICTORIAN PERIOD and The 19th Century (1832-1901)

Other famous writers are Charles Dickens, , George Eliot and Oscar Wilde...

In America, writers like Mark Twain flourish, as do early free verse poets like Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.

Shakepeare's influence on the English language
Early Modern English

The Elizabethan Theatre
I. Early Tudor Period (1485-1558)

II. Elizabethan Period (1558-1603)

III. Jacobean Period (1603-1625)

How did Middle English sound?

Listen to a part of the Prologue in The Canterbury Tales.
But, before listening, read some of the opening lines with interlinear translation here below...

The narrator of
The Canterbury Tales
opens with a description of the return of spring. He describes the April rains, flowers and birds.


Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
When April with its sweet-smelling showers
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
Has pierced the drought of March to the root,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
And bathed every vein (of the plants) in such liquid
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
By which power the flower is created;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
When the West Wind also with its sweet breath,
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
In every wood and field has breathed life into
The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne
The tender new leaves, and the young sun
Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
Has run half its course in Aries,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
And small fowls make melody,
Canterbury Tales, part 1: Wife of Bath
among the best-known of Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
It provides insight into the role of women in the Late Middle Ages.

the Middle Ages
the Renaissance
the Enlightenment
the Romantic Age
the Victorian Age
the Twentieth Century

The periods listed are spans of time in which literature shared intellectual, linguistic, religious, and artistic influences.

However, these periods are not mutually exclusive in their timeframes, they overlap. In some cases a single author can even be claimed by more than period/movement.

the oldest epic written in Old English
dated between 8th - 11th century

In more than 3,000 lines, it tells the fictitious story of the hero Beowulf from southern Sweden who fights monsters and dragons in order to bring safety to his own and other people.
One of the most famous kings in English history.

initiated religious restructuring (Reformation)
cut all ties to the Church of Rome.
established the Church of England and made himself the supreme head of the church.
turbulent time in England

... one of Henry VIII:s daughters, takes over the throne in 1558 and rules for nearly half a century.
The Enlightenment
Starting point of the middle class:
more people were literate
good manners, restraint, self-control, and common sense
appearances, formal style and elegance
coffee houses, tea, chocolate
Also called the Age of Reason...

Rationalism (logic; reason as source of knowledge)
Empirism (knowledge comes through experience)
Criticism (critical thinking, argumentation)
Egalitarianism (everybody is born equal)
Deism (rejection of organized religion)

Neoclassical architecture
Female Writers
Writing during the early period of Queen Victoria's reign also includes sentimental novels.

Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters belong to the late Romanticists and early Victorian writers.
Late 18th century

The Twentieth Century

Historical backdrop to a new literary movement Modernism
Fall of the British Empire after 1901
World War I
Post-war disillusionment
Depression in the 30s

a mix of literary styles
new narrative techniques
new themes
Post-modernism is a movement that follows modernism; Second World War and later.
It is breaking rules and experimenting with text (Virginia Woolf, James Joyce...)

New novel types: detective novels, fantasy etc

Yet Modernism continues throughout the century and many of the modern classic novels are written, for ex.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Catcher In the Rye, 1984...

Some modern classics are written:
The Great Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, The Old Man and the Sea...

Let's revise...
What are the origins of English?
Watch the following short film ...
The Renaissance?
French: meaning“Rebirth”

Started in Italy (Petrarch, da Vinci, Michelangelo...)
Revival of Classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation during the Middle Ages (Dark Ages)
HUMANISM...confidence in the possibilities of human thought and creations
Discovery and exploration of new continents...
Growth of commerce and trade
Inventions: paper, printing, the mariner’s compass, and gunpowder etc.

Watch the introduction to the BBC documentary (or the whole film):

A Very British Renaissance:
Episode 1 -- The Renaissance Arrives

Queen Elizabeth I
England under Elizabeth´s rule:
"the Golden Age"
country unified; stability;
England becomes a super power
naval power; defeating the Spanish armada
trade and commerce flourish
exploration, colonialism
London largest city in Europe, population 200,000 in 1559, doubles in 50 years

national symbol; strong and decisive leader
strong will, determination in keeping the power
renowned intelligence; well educated
never married; "Virgin Queen"
loved fine clothing and jewelry; role model and fashion icon
Elizabeth I
Shakespeare: Original pronunciation

(watch until 3;38 min)

Mary Shelley
Edgar Allan Poe
Advancement of ideals like:
progress, tolerance, fraternity, constitutional government and separation of church and state.
Full transcript