Period, literary–historical

Period, literary–historical – In the study of literature, we often group texts according to when they were written. Writings in the same period often (but not always) share similar points of style. By “style,” we mean style of expression and style of content. The first concerns writing. What sort of words, punctuation, etc. More pathetic fallacy, convention, or less. More direct thought, consciousness, or more summary and fable. The second concerns subject matter—theme.

Here is a very brief cheat-sheet of some of the hallmarks of style (expression and content) that characterize works from the four major literary periods we define as having happened since the Enlightenment:

  • Romanticism ~1800-1850 — Enlightenment to massive industrialization, Marx, Darwin, and the break with the individual as hero
  • Realism–Naturalism ~1850-1900 — Industrialization to the Wars and the break with Positivism
  • Modernism ~1900-1950 — The Wars to mass simulation (ads, TV, movies) and the break with the Grand Narratives and the power of signs to represent reality without contingency
  • Postmodernism ~1950-still going — Mass simulation to hyperconnectivity via the net
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