American Literature

Periods of American Literature

by Umair Ahmad Khan

The position that America came to, in a span of a few years, post its freedom from the British, had always been lauded and declared as commendable. American literature holds as good importance in the literary field as English Literature and holds an equal place in the world of research paper writing as the latter. 

Within a span of a few years, America saw the works of famous writers that were in some way or the other, influenced by their own culture as well as the movements going on throughout the world. 

Therefore, scholars deemed it necessary to divide the literature of this country into several periods so that a better understanding of the same could be done. Students who are working on the topic can refer to the information being provided, for their essay services.

Although there had been speculations regarding the division of the periods in American Literature, yet we finally turned to get a proper one. The division comprised the Revolutionary Period (1775- 1781), the Civil War (1861- 1865), World War I (1914-1918), and World War II (1939- 1945). These periods have been further subdivided in order to come out with more clarity.

The period from 1607 to 1775 was the time of America being discovered, colonized, and fighting for independence. Therefore, this period is known as the Colonial Period. In this period, the works that were written were mostly religious, historical, or practical. 

The writers also wrote journals as well as articles on the founding and early history of the country. Popular writers in this period were Benjamin Franklin who was a master of cogent and lucid prose, the philosopher Jonathan Edwards and it was later in the twentieth century discovered that Edward Taylor was a writer in metaphysical style as Crawshaw and Herbert. 

Anne Bradstreet was the chief colonial poet of the domestic as well as religious and secular subjects. 

With the publication of Poems on Various Subjects in 1773, by Phillis Wheatley, an African slave, the black writers got their way into the literary world and were later referred to as African Americans in America. 

Their cultural heritage has been so complex and diverse that it has had a great impact on tensions and fusions that have resulted in highly innovative and distinctive literature, along with the musical forms as well. 

The period between 1765 and 1790 is sometimes called the Revolutionary Period. Writings in this period came out in support of the Constitution and were patriotic in nature like those by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Philip Freneau, and Joel Barlow. 

The time period from 1775 to 1865 can be further subdivided into two categories- the Early Nationalist Period between 1775 to 1828 and the Romantic Period in America from 1828 to 1865. 

The former ended with the Jacksonian democracy in 1828 and signaled the emergence of nationalist imaginative literature, including the first American stage comedy which was written by Royall Tyler- The Contrast, the earliest American novel which was William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy and later the establishment of The North American Review, the first enduring American magazine. 

The essays of Washington Irving earned him fame while the American versions of the Gothic novels were focused upon by Charles Brockden Brown. In fact, James Fenimore Cooper rose to fame as the first American novelist. 

On the other hand, Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry was classified as something different from the precursors. The year 1760 also gave way to the publication of the first long series of slave narratives and autobiographies written by African American slaves.

The period between 1828 and 1865 was the time of the Romantic era in American Literature, sometimes also known as the American Renaissance and the Age of Transcendentalism. 

Popular writers in this era were Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, among others. Transcendentalism was the name given to it in the philosophical and literary movement based on Emerson. 

The writers produced their original work in all genres. The early feminist Margaret Fuller and writers like Emerson and Thoreau shaped the ideals and literary aims that were followed by many contemporary and later American writers. 

Novels and short stories too saw a development at the hands of Hawthorne, Poe and Melville, and other such novelists. The poetry in this era was the most influential one, especially that of Walt Whitman. Various research paper writings have also hinted at the development of American criticism in this era. 

Following this was the period between 1865 to 1914 which was known as the Realistic period and the Naturalistic period after dividing the age into two parts. The American Civil War, the period of Reconstruction and of urbanization, and industrialization are what characterized the era. 

Realism is derived from the works of Mark Twain, Henry James, and others whose works themselves were realistic ones and who grounded them in the regional milieu. 

Walt Whitman continued with his poetry while Emily Dickinson too rose to prominence with her poems. Influenced by Ezra Pound, Stephen Crane came up with his imagist poetry.

The time of 1914 to 1939 was characterized by the great economic depression beginning in 1929. The era saw the emergence of modern literature. Ezra Pound was a prominent poet and Imagist in this era along with his student T.  S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Amy Lowell, Hilda Dolittle, and others. 

Robert Frost too rose to prominence in this era, with his metric poems. Later the time period from 1939 to 1960s or the Postwar period was characterized by the disillusionment with Soviet communism upon the trial of Stalin in Moscow. 

New Criticism kept on dominating the writers for several years. There were several names that one could hear like the Black Mountain Poets, the New York Poets, and the like. 

The period from the 1960s was known as the postmodern period wherein extremes were measured in the experiments of the modernist experimentation in narrative techniques and linguistics. 

Thus, were divided the periods in American literature which students must have knowledge of in order to gain effective assignment help.

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