Literary Periods

Topics: Literature, Literary criticism, 2nd millennium, History of literature / Pages: 5 (1150 words) / Published: Apr 28th, 2013
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| 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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