American Literary Movements - Characteristics of the Periods

American Literary Movements - Characteristics of the Periods
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Edgar Allan Poe Biography

American Literary Movements

Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray

As the world around us changes, so does the way that we see the world, and how we express that vision. Literature, arts, and philosophy evolve to mirror their historic and social context. Learn more about American Literary Movements with Storyboard That!

American Literary Movements

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American Literary Movements - Characteristics of the American Literary Movements student activity

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  • Native American (Tradition)
  • Puritanism or Colonial(1620-1750)
  • The primary setting for Native American literature is in, or around, nature.
  • Indian homes varied depending on geography. Tepees were common in the north and plains region as the people followed changing of seasons or movement of a herd.
  • Native Americans were known for living off the land and for their rich spiritual traditions.
  • There were many technological advancements made by American Indians such as ingenious homes created to withstand the varying climates, pottery, farming, cooking technique, weaponry and more.
  • The most popular colonial settings were the colonies of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts and Jamestown, Virginia. These early settlers colonized the east coast.
  • Homes were traditional wood or stone structures. Often kitchens would be located on top of a small stream for easy water access. They would also include a hearth for cooking.
  • Puritans were a religious group who left England, seeking to purify the church. Most were devout Christians making the church​ the center of the settlement.
  • The colonists were farmers who raised crops and livestock to survive. In some narratives, colonists worked with Native Americans, who taught them basic skills for survival.
  • Revolutionary, Age of Reason, Enlightenment (1750-1800)
  • Common Sense
  • Romanticism, American Gothic (1800-1865)
  • Many of the American settings in this era center around large cities such as Boston and Philadelphia.
  • Colonial style architecture​ became more common as the population grew.
  • The people of this time focused on understanding and knowledge. During the Enlightenment, men looked at science to better understand the world.
  • As part of the Revolutionary period, important advances included expansion of shipping trade and establishment of government.
  • Transcendentalism (1840-1860)
  • This genre's focus is on the macabre or supernatural. Settings ranged geographically. Exploration of time and space were innovations​ in fiction.
  • During this period, home styles were differentiated by setting. Urban homes were commonly townhouse style, while rural homes remained farm oriented.
  • During this period, there was a large increase of female writers. People during this time became consumers of literature as well as goods.
  • Magazines, books, and other printed sources became widespread, as printing​ and distribution to the masses became easier.
  • The primary setting focused on spirituality and nature.
  • Homes during this period were traditional, with the added notion that it should be close to nature, and that it was built or kept by dignity of manual labor.
  • This era had many philosophical beliefs: the ​need for intellectual companions, closeness with God, democracy, individuality, and finding knowledge through intuition.
  • This movement coincided with the height of the Industrial Revolution and the lead-up to Civil War. Social advances for women and the abolition of slavery were important subjects.
  • Realism, Naturalism Regionalism (1865-1930)
  • Modernism (1914-1945)
  • Settings are frequently remote and inaccessible. They were very segregated by geographic location, the North vs. the South for example.
  • Homes were traditional and mimicked the values and customs of the area. Depending on location homes varied, but remained stereotypical examples of homes in the region.
  • People of this time were often seen as stereotypes of their region. They typically follow traditions, adhere to dialect, and exhibit expected personality traits.
  • The reconstruction of the US after the Civil War and the continual growth of industry were major advancements.
  • Jazz Age, 20’s Harlem Renaissance (1917-1937)
  • Settings varied and were often chosen because of connections with the audience.
  • Homes of this era begin to resemble modern houses in many places. Single family homes in small towns are common.
  • During this time WWI WWII both began and ended. American's had a sense of national pride, mixed with disillusionment from these large-scale wars.
  • A new advancement in science was the study of psychology. It appears frequently throughout the era's writing.
  • Major settings include large cities.
  • Homes were portrayed as lavish and prime for hosting over-the-top parties. During this time prohibition outlawed drinking, therefore, many people frequented speakeasies.
  • Women in this era were often depicted with short bobbed haircuts, smoking, and drinking alongside men. Sex and sexuality were no longer such taboo subjects.
  • Despite the effects of the Great Depression, Americans were manufacturing and creating infrastructure that are still in place today.
  • Beat Generation (1950-1965)
  • Contemporary/Postmodernism(1950-Present)
  • Settings during this era included college campuses and coffee shops. Quaint, small settings for collaboration​ and intimacy were valued.
  • Homes of this time period differed by region and location. However, by the end of this movement cookie-cutter style homes in communities were being established rapidly.
  • People during this period saw themselves as individuals, breaking away from they stereotypes of previous generations. Sex and sexuality also became a common topic.
  • During this time, technology changed rapidly. Advancements were in electronics, such as the introduction of the transistor radio, the computer chip, and fiber-optics. ​
  • Settings range broadly from fictional and fantastic, to natural or traditional places.
  • Homes became centers for immediate​ family and child rearing. Suburban communities expanded significantly.
  • After the devastation of two world wars, many became less religious or traditional. They embraced irony and believed that innovation in literature was finished.
  • Technology in postmodernism was heavily geared towards the consumer. Inventions like the TV, internet, and cell phones connected people while also isolating them.
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