American Literature: Literature Changed Over Time

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Payton Lehnerz English B CP Final Essay American Literature: How it Changed Over Time Literature has been a constant expression of artistic emotion throughout history. Over the course of the years, Literature has developed and changed due to America’s evolution. These changing time periods can be classified into 9 eras: Colonial, Revolutionary, Romantic, Transcendental, Realism, Modern, Harlem Renaissance, Beat Generation, and Postmodern. Throughout the changing history, new literary eras have begun in response to previous eras and events. American Literature has changed over time by adapting previous values, beliefs, and literary characteristics when a new era presents itself; this progression is due to changing societal views in…show more content…
Throughout this time period American literature shifts from American foundation into American development. Following the Revolutionary War, America saw a huge population increase; migration westward; and many technological advances. These events thus initiate the Romantic Era. Within this era society held the values of individual importance; close association with nature; and humanism. In the romanticism poem The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls the reader can obtain a glimpse of these nature focused beliefs. In this poem Henry Longfellow describes a seaside scene in which dawn overcomes darkness, thus relating to the rising of society after the hardships of battle. The reader can also see feelings, emotions, and imagination take priority over logic and facts. Bridging the Romantic Era and the Realism Era is the Transcendental Era. This era is unusual due to it’s overlapping of both the Romantic and Realism Era. Due to its coexistence in two eras, this division serves as a platform for authors to attempt to establish a new literary culture aside from the rest of the world. Encompassing the Transcendental Era are the beliefs of ideality, establishment of a utopia, skepticism of religion, and the arrival of knowledge through intuition. The reader can see a demonstration of these beliefs in the short story To Build a Fire. In this story, London depicts…show more content…
Within this time period resides the Modern, Harlem Renaissance, Beat Generation, and Postmodern Eras. Attributing to the start of the Modern era are the historical events of WWI, the Great Depression, and the Great Migration of the US. Associated with this era are the desires of fast paced city life; achievement of wealth and success; disillusionment; and shifting away from religion. The Great Gatsby is a great example of these values due to Gatsby, the protagonist, constant desire for success but ultimately disillusioned by Daisy and the chaotic life she brings. (Fitzgerald). In this novel the reader can see the inner turmoil within literature and its characters. There is a major shift present from supernatural and religious happiness, into individual driven happiness. Due to this newly valued individual independence, social boundaries in race and gender started to appear, thus causing the transition into the Harlem Renaissance, a movement that celebrated African American culture through artwork, literature, and music. Throughout this era elements of new identity, political challenging, and gender and racial improvements were all addressed and examined in the associated literature. The poem Legal Alien is a good example of the ideals encompassed in the era. This poem is about a Mexican-American speaker informing the reader about the struggles in which people from different ethnic backgrounds
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