This movement stressed the principles derived from admired qualities in ancient Greece and Rome. It became an important part of the Enlightenment (18th c) when humanists became advocates of classical doctrine and secular education. Qualities include unified form, emotional restraint, objectivity, simplicity, balance, order, decorum, and tradition.
Based on the ideas of 4th c BCE Athenian philosopher Plato who argued that the universe is divided into two realms of existence, the physical and literature. The physical is an imperfect imitation of the world of external, pure, abstract form - merely a copy of reality. Literature is an imitation of the physical and thus twice removed from ultimate reality. It idealized portrayals of beauty and love (the ideal form). Una in The Faerie Queene is an example of ideal truth and beauty and is immediately recognized as such by all.
From the mid 16th century into the 18th century in England, Pastoral poems had to do with shepherds and rural life. These poems included love lorn shepherds and the cold-hearted shepherdesses leading idyllic and artificial life in an idealized setting with much wooing and singing. Examples include Milton's Lycidas and The Sherperdes Calendar by Spenser.
This school of thought was the heart of the renaissance in the 16th century. It refers to a system of thought or action devoted to human interests, especially to the elevation of human values and dignity rather than religious ideals or divine element. It focused on the language, life, and thought of ancient Greece and Rome.
During the Renaissance, Neoplatonism combined Platonic thought with Christian symbolism and Jewish mysticism into a single philosophical system. It contributed to the development of the idea of platonic (spiritual love) which is higher/closer to God than physical (erotic) love. Examples include - Spenser's The Faerie Queene and Sir Phillip Sidney Astrophel and Stella.
These 17th century poets created original images and conceits using wit and ingenuity. They included complex themes (sacred and profane) and were aware of morality. They used colloquial speech and were flexible with meter. Some poets include Donne, Marvell, and Vaughan
In the late 17th, early 18th century, English writers revived the artistic ideals of classical Greece and Rome practicing emotional restraint, order, logic, balance, and elegance of diction. They emphasized form over content, wit over imagination. Authors include Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift.
The second half of the 18th century was a period of sensibility. Sentimentalism went slightly against this thought by evoking exaggerated emotional response or an emotional response disproportionate to the situation that prompted it. These were the "melodramas" and "tearjerkers." Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is an example of work from this movement.
The 18th and 19th century movement of Romanticism was a revolt against the neoclassicism of the previous century. Romanticism stressed imagination, emotion, freedom, individuality, love/worship of nature, and spontaneity. Wordsworth, Keats, and Coleridge are all Romantic writers.
The transcendentalism ideas stood in opposition to the pessimism of Puritan Calvinism in the 19th century. They held that there was something in humans that transcended human nature - a spark of divinity. It emphasized individualism in religion and the arts where the individual conscience is a guide to behavior and intuition in the discovery of truth as a source of artistic expression. Thoreau and Emerson fall into this movement.
The establishment of the pre-raphaelite brotherhood in 1848 as a protest against the prevailing convention methods of painting led to a movement in literature, particularly poetry. The main principle was that there was an absolute uncompromising truth obtained by elaborating everything from nature only. In poetry this was expressed using symbolism, sensuousness, metrical experimentation, supernatural elements, and sensuality. Two poets were Christine Rossetti and Dante Rossetti)
This theory and practice of emphasizing the subjective impression a writer/character has of reality rather than attempting to recreate reality objectively was established in the late 19th century. Modern novelist such as James Joye, Virginia Woolf, and Joseph Conrad, focus on the inner life of a main character and the impression that character has of reality mainly through interior monologues.
The Aesthetic movement in the 19th century emphasized that a beautiful form is superior to a morally instructive content. It was in part a reaction to the ugliness and mere usefulness of the industrial revolution. Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is an example of poetry from this movement.
In the 19th century, realism meant an accuracy in the portrayal of life or reality in contrast with Romanticism. It was influenced by the expanded middle-class readership, so authors wrote about problems the readers could identify with. It was as if the stories were telling themselves. Madame Bovary by Flaubert is an example of Realism.
Beginning in France in the 19th century and into England and America in the 20th century, symbolism rebelled against realism especially literally descriptive poetry. An image is both absolutely precise in what it refers to physically while at the same time endlessly suggestive in the meanings it sets up in relation to other images. Baudelaire wrote in this movement.
Modernism in the late 19th, early 20th, century broke away from established rules and traditional values. It experimented radically with form and style (i.e. point of view, dislocation of time sequence, stream of consciousness, and use of symbols/expressionist techniques). Writers include Joseph Conrad, Franz Kafka, T.S. Elliot, and Virginia Woolf.
In the late 19th, early 20th century, Naturalism emphasized biological and socioeconomic determinism. It believed humans were a higher form of animal, lacking free will but led through natural forces of hereditary and environment. Works depicted life as a brutal struggle for survival with characters facing their animalistic drives (sex, hunger, and fear). Wright's Native Son is an example of this type of literature.
Coined by Ezra Pound in the beginning of the 20th century, imagism is used to describe a new kind of poetry that sought to restore the precise use of visual images. It avoids ornate languages and cliches. Pound's "In a Station of the Metro" and William Carlos William's "The Red Wheelbarrow" are two examples.
in the early 20th century, expressionism focused on the inner experience (emotions, moods, and other aspects) and externalize them through the use of non-realistic devices and abstract form. In drama there were dream-like distortions, fantastic action, and non-real set. In poetry and fiction, life was presented not as it appears but as it is felt with symbolic representation of reality. Examples include - Brecht's Three Penny Opera, T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, and Kafka's "The Metamorphosis."
New York City's Harlem was flourishing with black creativity in the 1920s as a result of mass migration to northern cities. This group of young, talented, black writers made Harlem their cultural and intellectual capital as they sought to develop an art form that would be expressive of black identity and experience. This movement included Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes and Jean Toomer.