Puritan – (1472-1750) – Most of this is histories, journals, personal poems, sermons, and diaries. Most of this literature is either utilitarian, very personal, or religious. We call it Puritan because the majority of the writers during this period were strongly influenced by Puritan ideals and values. Jonathan Edwards continues to be recognized from this period.
Enlightenment – (1750-1800) – Called the Enlightenment period due to the influence of science and logic, this period is marked in US literature by political writings. Genres included political documents, speeches, and letters. Benjamin Franklin is typical of this period. There is a lack of emphasis and dependence on the Bible and more use of common sense (logic) and science. There was not a divorce from the Bible but an adding to or expanding of the truths found there.
Romanticism – (1800-1840) - Romanticism was a literary and artistic movement of the nineteenth century that arose in reaction against eighteenth-century Neoclassicism and placed a premium on fancy, imagination, emotion, nature, individuality, and exotica. There’s a movement here from personal and political documents to entertaining ones. Purely American topics were introduced such as frontier life. Romantic elements can be found in the works of American writers as diverse as Cooper, Poe, Thoreau, Emerson, Dickinson, Hawthorne, and Melville. Romanticism is particularly evident in the works of the New England Transcendentalists.
Transcendentalism – (1840-1855) -Transcendentalism was an American literary and philosophical movement of the nineteenth century. The Transcendentalists, who were based in New England, believed that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” experience and thus are better guides to truth than are the senses and logical reason. Influenced by Romanticism, the Transcendentalists respected the individual spirit and the natural world, believing that divinity was present...
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