| In grouping texts according to "type," the concept of genre is applied to all literary works, past, present, or | |future. Thus seeing a single work in its generic context becomes inseparable from seeing it as part of literary history. | |The concept of literary period also implies a grouping through time. But a work, rather than being "placed" within the | |entire sweep of literary history, is "placed" within a much more restricted time frame. The period concept provides | |another system of classification, ordering literary and cultural data chronologically, within certain discrete time | |periods. It assumes every age has its characteristic special features, which are reflected in its representative artifacts| |or creations. (Indeed, among these characteristic features may be its typical choice of genres.) The kind of coherence | |displayed is not accidental, for literary works participate in the culture of their times. | |The Period Concept | | Basically, the period concept suggests two things: (1) that literary works can be grouped according to what they | |share with each other within a given time span, and (2) that this grouping can be differentiated from other such | |chronological groupings. Literary periods share, in Rene Wellek's phrase, "systems of norms," which include such things as| |conventions, styles, themes, and philosophies. | |Cautions and Qualifications | | When we read, most of us like to have at least some information about historical periods because it seems to give us| |immediate and satisfying entry into a literary work. It often seems to explain a number of things about a poem,...
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