Sparked by the formation of The Royal Society in London in 1660. Emphasis on science, rational thinking, balance, and logic. Writings reflect the rational, logical thinking of the period.
Washington Irving Edgar Allen Poe Nathaniel Hawthorne
This period is the antithesis of neoclassicism. The emphasis is on the heart rather than the head. Romantics stress emotion, intuition, individuality, imagination, the exotic, and the supernatural.
This is EXTREME Romanticism! Transcendentalists take individualism to an extreme. One should follow one’s heart and intuition to an extreme, even if it means breaking the law or disappointing one’s family and friends.
After the carnage of the American Civil War the optimism of Romanticism faded. Writers strove to present the everyday realities of life in their works. Realists presented a sometimes stark depiction of life as it is really lived.
Naturalism is EXTREME realism, which presents a cold, uncaring world. Naturalists were greatly impacted by the writings of Darwin and saw the environment as a great determiner of human actions. Naturalism is a pessimistic world view in which one questions the existence of God and sees man as a helpless victim of forces beyond his control.
Modernism characterized the first half of the 20 th century. This was a time of experimentation in literature. Writings of this period exhibit ambiguities which force readers to form their own opinions. (Sometimes even the narrators are unreliable.)
This period, which began after World War II and the dropping of the first atomic bomb, is characterized by continued experimentation and a pessimistic world view. Post Modernism includes the philosophy of Existentialism, the idea that there is no ultimate meaning embodied is human existence. The only meaning in life is that which one brings to it.