List of literary movements

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This is a list of modern literary movements: that is, movements after the Renaissance. These terms, helpful for curricula or anthologies, evolved over time to group certain writers who are often loosely related. Some of these movements (such as Dada and Beat) were defined by the members themselves, while other terms (the metaphysical poets, for example) emerged decades or centuries after the periods in question. Ordering is approximate, as there is considerable overlap.

Amatory fiction

Cavalier Poets

Metaphysical poets

The Augustans


Gothic novel

Lake Poets

American Romanticism

  • Distinct from European Romanticism, the American form emerged somewhat later, was based more in fiction than in poetry, and incorporated a (sometimes almost suffocating) awareness of history, particularly the darkest aspects of American history.



Dark romanticism




Stream of consciousness

  • Early-20th-century fiction consisting of literary representations of quotidian thought, without authorial presence.


The Lost Generation


First World War Poets


Los Contemporáneos


Harlem Renaissance


  • Originally a French movement, influenced by Surrealist painting, that uses surprising images and transitions to play off of formal expectations and depict the unconscious rather than conscious mind.

Southern Agrarians


  • Mid-20th-century poetry and prose based on seemingly arbitrary rules for the sake of added challenge.


Black Mountain Poets

Beat poets

Hungryalist Poets

Confessional poetry

New York School

Magical Realism


Prakalpana Movement

  • This ongoing movement launched in 1969 based in Calcutta, by the Prakalpana group of Indian writers in Bengali literature, who created new forms of Prakalpana fiction, Sarbangin poetry and the philosophy of Chetanavyasism, later spreads world wide.


  • A literary movement founded in the late 1960s by René Philoctète, Jean-Claude Fignolé, and Frankétienne centered around the idea that the universe is interconnected, unpredictable, and governed by chaos.

Spoken Word

New Formalism

Performance Poetry

  • This is the lasting viral component of Spoken Word and one of the most popular forms of poetry in the 21st century. It is a new oral poetry originating in the 1980s in Austin, Texas, using the speaking voice and other theatrical elements. Practitioners write for the speaking voice instead of writing poetry for the silent printed page. The major figure is American Hedwig Gorski who began broadcasting live radio poetry with East of Eden Band during the early 1980s. Gorski, considered a post-Beat, created the term Performance Poetry to define and distinguish what she and the band did from performance art. Instead of books, poets use audio recordings and digital media along with television spawning Slam Poetry and Def Poets on television and Broadway.