Periods of english literature

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The periods in English literature:
The Old English/Anglo-Saxon Period
Time: 449-1066
• strong belief in fate
• juxtaposition of church and pagan worlds
• admiration of heroic warriors who prevail in battle
• express religious faith and give moral instruction through literature
• oral tradition of literature
• poetry dominant genre
• unique verseform
o caesura
o alliteration
o repetition
o four-beat rhythm
Historical Context:
• life centered around ancestral tribes or clans that ruled themselves
• at first the people were warriors from invading outlying areas: Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Danes
• later they were agricultural
A Sampling of Key Literature & Authors:
• Beowulf
• The Venerable Bede
• Exeter Book

TheMiddle English Period (Medieval Period):
Early middle english period 1066-1350
Later middle english period 1350-1485
Time: 1066-1485 (roughly)
• plays that instruct the illiterate masses in morals and religioun
• chivalric code of honor/romances
• religious devotion
• oral tradition continues
• folk ballads
• mystery and miracle plays
• morality plays
•tock epithets
• kennings
• frame stories
• moral tales
Historical Context:
• Crusades bring the development of a money economy for the first time in Britain
• trading increases dramatically as a result of the Crusades
• William the Conqueror crowned king in 1066
• Henry III crowned king in 1154 brings a judicial system, royal courts, juries, and chivalry to Britain
A Samplingof Key Literature & Authors:
• Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl
• Domesday Book
• L’Morte de Arthur
• Geoffrey Chaucer
The Renaissance
Time: 1485-1660
The Elizabethan Period: the reign of Elizabeth I, 1586-1603
Jacobean Period: he reign of James I of England, 1603-1625
• world view shifts from religion and after life to onestressing the human life on earth
• popular theme: development of human potential
• popular theme: many aspects of love explored
• unrequited love
• constant love
• timeless love
• courtly love
• love subject to change
• poetry
o the sonnet
o metaphysical poetry
 elaborate and unexpected metaphors called conceits
• drama
o written in verse
o supported byroyalty
o tragedies, comedies, histories
Historical Context:
• War of Roses ends in 1485 and political stability arrives
• Printing press helps stabilize English as a language and allows more people to read a variety of literature
• Economy changes from farm-based to one of international trade
A Sampling of Key Literature & Authors:
• William Shakespeare
• Thomas Wyatt
• Ben Jonson• Cavalier Poets
• Metaphysical Poets
• John Donne
• Christopher Marlowe
• Andrew Marvell
• Robert Herrick
• Katherine Phillips
The Neoclassical Period ;
Time: 1660-1798
The Restoration: the reign of Charles II, 1630 - 1660 (after his restoration to the thrown in 1630 following the English Civil War and Cromwell)
The Age of Enlightenment(the Eighteenth Century)
• emphasis on reason and logic
• stresses harmony, stability, wisdom
• Locke: a social contract exists between the government and the people. The government governs guaranteeing “natural rights” of life, liberty, and property
• satire
• poetry
• essays
• letters, diaries, biographies
• novels
Historical Context:
• 50% of malesare functionally literate (a dramatic rise)
• Fenced enclosures of land cause demise of traditional village life
• Factories begin to spring up as industrial revolution begins
• Impoverished masses begin to grow as farming life declines and factories build
• Coffee houses—where educated men spend evenings with literary and political associates
A Sampling of Key Literature & Authors:
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