List of literary movements
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Literary movements are a way to divide literature into categories of similar philosophical, topical, or aesthetic features, as opposed to divisions by genre or period. Like other categorizations, literary movements provide language for comparing and discussing literary works. These terms are helpful for curricula or anthologies.
Some of these movements (such as Dada and Beat) were defined by the members themselves, while other terms (for example, the metaphysical poets) emerged decades or centuries after the periods in question. Further, some movements are well defined and distinct, while others, like expressionism, are nebulous and overlap with other definitions. Because of these differences, literary movements are often a point of contention between scholars.
This is a list of modern literary movements: that is, movements after the Renaissance. Ordering is approximate, as there is considerable overlap.
|Cavalier Poets||17th-century English royalist poets, writing primarily about courtly love, called Sons of Ben (after Ben Jonson)||Richard Lovelace, William Davenant|
|Metaphysical poets||17th-century English movement using extended conceit, often (though not always) about religion.||John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell|
|Amatory fiction||Romantic fiction popular around 1660 to 1730; notable for preceding the modern novel form and producing several prominent female authors ||Eliza Haywood, Delarivier Manley, Aphra Behn|
|The Augustans||18th-century literary movement based chiefly on classical ideals, satire and skepticism||Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift|
|Sturm und Drang||A precursor to the romantic movement, Sturm und Drang is named for a play by Friedrich Maximilian Klinger. Sturm and Drang literature often features a protagonist which is driven by emotion, impulse and other motives that run counter to the enlightenment rationalism. ||Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller|
|Romanticism||19th-century (1800 to 1860) movement emphasizing emotion and imagination, rather than logic and scientific thought. Response to the Enlightenment||Mary Shelley, Victor Hugo, Lord Byron, Camilo Castelo Branco|
|Dark romanticism||19th-century American movement in reaction to Transcendentalism. Finds man inherently sinful and self-destructive and nature a dark, mysterious force||Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edwin Arlington Robinson|
|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||Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce|
|Gothic novel||Fiction in which Romantic ideals are combined with an interest in the supernatural and in violence||Ann Radcliffe, Bram Stoker, Harper Lee, Edgar Allan Poe|
|Lake Poets||A group of Romantic poets from the English Lake District who wrote about nature and the sublime||William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey|
|Pre-Raphaelitism||19th-century, primarily English movement based ostensibly on undoing innovations by the painter Raphael. Many were both painters and poets||Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Christina Rossetti|
|Transcendentalism||19th-century American movement: poetry and philosophy concerned with self-reliance, independence from modern technology||Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau|
|Realism||Late-19th-century movement based on a simplification of style and image and an interest in poverty and everyday concerns||Gustave Flaubert, William Dean Howells, Stendhal, Honoré de Balzac, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Frank Norris, Eça de Queiroz|
|Naturalism||Late 19th century. Proponents of this movement believe heredity and environment control people||Émile Zola, Stephen Crane, Guy de Maupassant, Theodore Dreiser|
|Verismo||Verismo is a derivative of naturalism and realism that began in post-unification Italy. Verismo literature uses detailed character development based on psychology, in Giovanni Verga's words 'the science of the human heart.'||Giovanni Verga, Luigi Capuana, Matilde Serao, Grazia Deledda|
|Socialist Realism||Socialist realism is a subset of realist art which focuses on communist values and realist depiction. It developed in the Soviet Union and was imposed as state policy by Joseph Stalin in 1934, though authors in other socialist countries and members of the communist party in non-socialist counties also partook in the movement||Maxim Gorky, Nikolai Ostrovsky, Mikhail Sholokhov, Lu Xun, Takiji Kobayashi, Mike Gold|
|Magical Realism||Literary movement in which magical elements appear in otherwise realistic circumstances. Most often associated with the Latin American literary boom of the 20th century||Gabriel García Márquez, Octavio Paz, Günter Grass, Julio Cortázar, Sadegh Hedayat, Malay Roy Choudhury|
|Decadent movement||In the mid 19th century, decadence came to refer to moral decay, and was attributed as the cause of the fall of great civilizations, like the Roman empire. The decadent movement was a response to the perceived decadence within the earlier Romantic, naturalist and realist movements in France at this time. The decadent movement takes decadence in literature to an extreme, with characters who debase themselves for pleasure, and the use metaphor, symbolism and language as tool to obfuscate the truth rather than expose it||Joris-Karl Huysmans, Gustav Flaubert, Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde|
|Symbolism||Principally French movement of the fin de siècle, symbolism is codified by the Symbolist Manifesto in 1886, and focused on the structure of thought rather than poetic form or image; influential for English language poets from Edgar Allan Poe to James Merrill||Stéphane Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Valéry|
|Futurism||Codified in 1909 by the Manifesto of Futurism, futurism avoids being intellectual and using fixed syntax or style, makes use of irony and analogy, and is to be written intuitively or from inspiration||Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Mina Loy, Jaroslav Seifert|
|Stream of consciousness||Early-20th-century fiction consisting of literary representations of quotidian thought, without authorial presence||Virginia Woolf, James Joyce|
|Modernism||Variegated movement of the early 20th century, encompassing primitivism, formal innovation, or reaction to science and technology||Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, H.D., James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Fernando Pessoa, Knut Hamsun|
|Expressionism||Part of the larger expressionist movement, literary and theatrical expressionism is an avant-garde movement originating in Germany, which rejects realism in order to depict emotions and subjective thoughts||Franz Kafka, Alfred Döblin, Gottfried Benn, Heinrich Mann, Oskar Kokoschka|
|Imagism||Poetry based on description rather than theme, and on the motto, "the natural object is always the adequate symbol."||Ezra Pound, H.D., Richard Aldington|
|First World War Poets||British poets who documented both the idealism and the horrors of the war and the period in which it took place||Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen|
|The Lost Generation||The term 'Lost Generation' is traditionally attributed to Gertrude Stein and was then popularized by Ernest Hemingway in the epigraph to his novel The Sun Also Rises, and his memoir A Moveable Feast. It refers to a group of American literary notables who lived in Paris and other parts of Europe from the time period which saw the end of World War I to the beginning of the Great Depression||F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Waldo Pierce, John Dos Passos|
|Dada||Touted by its proponents as anti-art, dada focused on going against artistic norms and conventions||Kurt Schwitters, Subimal Mishra|
|Stridentism||Mexican artistic avant-garde movement. They exalted modern urban life and social revolution||Manuel Maples Arce, Arqueles Vela, Germán List Arzubide|
|Los Contemporáneos||A Mexican vanguardist group, active in the late 1920s and early 1930s; published an eponymous literary magazine which served as the group's mouthpiece and artistic vehicle from 1928 to 1931||Xavier Villaurrutia, Salvador Novo|
|Harlem Renaissance||African American poets, novelists, and thinkers, often employing elements of blues and folklore, based in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in the 1920s||Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston|
|Jindyworobak movement||The Jindyworobak movement originated in Adelaide, South Australia during the great depression. It sought to preserve uniquely Australian culture from external influence by incorporating Australian aboriginal languages and mythology and unique Australian settings||Rex Ingamells, Xavier Herbert|
|Surrealism||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||Jean Cocteau, José María Hinojosa Lasarte, André Breton, Sadegh Hedayat, Mário Cesariny|
|Southern Agrarians||A group of Southern American poets, based originally at Vanderbilt University, who expressly repudiated many modernist developments in favor of metrical verse and narrative. Some Southern Agrarians were also associated with the New Criticism||John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren|
|Postmodernism||Postwar movement skeptical of absolutes and embracing diversity, irony, and word play||Jorge Luis Borges, Thomas Pynchon, Alasdair Gray, Samir Roychoudhury, Kurt Vonnegut|
|Absurdism||The absurdist movement is derived from absurdist philosophy, which argues that life is inherently purposeless and questions truth and value. As such, asburdist literature and theatre of the absurd often includes dark humor, satire, and incongruity.||Jean-Paul Satre, Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, Gao Xingjian|
|Black Mountain Poets||A self-identified group of poets, originally based at Black Mountain College, who eschewed patterned form in favor of the rhythms and inflections of the human voice||Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley|
|Postcolonialism||A diverse, loosely connected movement of writers from former colonies of European countries, whose work is frequently politically charged||Jamaica Kincaid, V. S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Salman Rushdie, Giannina Braschi, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe|
|Hungryalist Poets||A literary movement in postcolonial India (Kolkata) during 1961–65 as a counter-discourse to Colonial Bengali poetry||Shakti Chattopadhyay, Malay Roy Choudhury, Binoy Majumdar, Samir Roychoudhury, Debi Roy, Sandipan Chattopadhyay, Subimal Basak|
|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 it had spread worldwide||Vattacharja Chandan, Dilip Gupta|
|Beat poets||American movement of the 1950s and 1960s concerned with counterculture and youthful alienation.||Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Ken Kesey, Gregory Corso|
|Spoken Word||A postmodern literary movement where writers use their speaking voice to present fiction, poetry, monologues, and storytelling arising Beat poetry, the Harlem Renaissance, and the civil rights movement in the urban centers of the United States. The textual origins differ and may have been written for print initially then read aloud for audiences||Spalding Gray, Laurie Anderson, Hedwig Gorski, Pedro Pietri, Piri Thomas, Giannina Braschi, Taalam Acey|
|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||Beau Sia, Hedwig Gorski, Bob Holman, Marc Smith, David Antin, Taalam Acey|
|Confessional poetry||Poetry that, often brutally, exposes the self as part of an aesthetic of the beauty and power of human frailty||Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Alicia Ostriker
|New York School||Urban, gay or gay-friendly, leftist poets, writers, and painters of the 1960s||Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery|
|Oulipo||Mid-20th-century poetry and prose based on seemingly arbitrary rules for the sake of added challenge||Raymond Queneau, Walter Abish, Georges Perec, Italo Calvino|
|Spiralism||A literary movement founded in the late 1960s by René Philoctète, Jean-Claude Fignolé, and Frankétienne. Spiralism defines life at the level of relations (colors, odors, sounds, signs, words) and historical connections||René Philoctète, Jean-Claude Fignolé, Frankétienne|
|Misty Poets||The Misty Poets were Chinese poets who resisted state artistic restrictions imposed during the Cultural Revolution. They made use of metaphors and hermetic imagery and avoided objective facts.||Bei Dao, Gu Cheng, Shu Ting, Yang Lian|
|New Formalism||A late-20th and early 21st century movement in American poetry advocating a return to traditional accentual-syllabic verse||Molly Peacock, Brad Leithauser, Timothy Steele, Mary Jo Salter|
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