By Muhammad Faseeh ul Hassan

History makes literature and literature preserves the history.

M.Faseeh Ul Hassan

Literary Movements

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.

The most important and prominent periods and movements of the English literature are described below.

1. Medivial Ages (5CE-13CE)

Middle Ages, the period in European history from the collapse of Roman civilization in the 5th century CE to the period of the Renaissance. The Middle Ages, or medieval time,is the period in the European history and is generally believed to have started with the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 and to have lasted about 1,000 years until about 1450–the period of Renaissance

Dark Ages

Some scholars perceive Europe as having been plunged into darkness when the Roman Empire fell in around 500 AD. The Middle Ages are often said to be dark because of a supposed lack of scientific and cultural advancement.Life was very hard in the Middle Ages. Very few people could read or write.Their lack of knowledge often led to superstitious beliefs. During this time, feudalism was the dominant political system.

2. Renaissance (14CE-17CE)

Renaissance is the period in the European history extending from 14th century to 17th century. It is regarded as the bridge between the Middle ages and Modern history. This new thinking became manifest in art, literature, politics and science. It is also called as the fervent period of European cultural, artistic and economic rebirth.

Also read: The Renaissance detailed article.

3. Enlightenment Era (17CE-19CE)

Enlightenment era (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th to 19th century.

The Enlightenment produced numerous books, essays, inventions, scientific discoveries, laws, wars and revolutions. The American and French Revolutions were directly inspired by Enlightenment ideals and respectively marked the peak of its influence and the beginning of its decline. The Enlightenment ultimately gave way to 19th-century Romanticism.

Also Read : Enlightenment Era detailed article.

4. Romanticism (1780-1832)

Romanticism arose as the artistic and philosophical revolt against the Enlightenment and Neoclassicism. Romanticism also played its role as abridge between the enlightenment’s promotion of commerce, reason and liberty and the Victorian experience of industrialization and empire. It was characterized by the emphasis on the emotion and individual as well as the glorification of all the past and nature.

William Wordsworth is the founding member of this movements to rehabilitate the joy of nature and human dignity.

Also read: Romanticism Era detailed article.

Important Features
  • The joys and tribulations of day to day life.
  • The love of unspoiled natural world.
  • The value of individual.
  • Imagination, memory and importance of emotions.

5. Victorian Era ( 1837-1901)

Victorian Era is affiliated with the reign of the Queen Victoria of England. This era is considered as the rich era according to its writings. Queen Victoria ruled England for almost 4 decades and colonialism started in her reign. Science also started to develop and technology came to its breath.

Also read: Victorian Era detailed article.

One side of the England was lit while at the same time , the other hand England was also known for the “Time of Darker Forces”. London was under darkness as the gangs were at large and the poor child were taught to beg and pocket picking. Robberies and murders were common in that period.

Charles Dickens was the famous prose writer of that era who is always found highlighting the social issues of the England. He mostly portrayed the neglected figures of the society. His novels include– Oliver Twist, Hard Times, Great Expectations, Tale of the two cities, etc. He is also known as the social reformer and social historian.

6. Naturalism

Naturalism is a literary movement beginning in the late nineteenth century. It is a literary genre that started as a movement in late nineteenth century in literature, film, theater, and art. It is a type of extreme realism. This movement suggested the roles of family, social conditions, and environment in shaping human character. Thus, naturalistic writers write stories based on the idea that environment determines and governs human character.

Also see: Naturalism detailed article.

Naturalism suggests a philosophical pessimism in which writers use scientific techniques to depict human beings as objective and impartial characters.

7. Realism

Realism is a movement in art, which started in the mid nineteenth century in France, and later spread to the entire world. Realism entered literature at almost at the same time. Its real objective was to root out what is called fantastic and romantic in literature and art, to insert what is real.

Also see: Realism detailed article.

In literature, writers use realism as a literary technique to describe story elements, such as setting, characters, themes, etc., without using elaborate imagery, or figurative language, such as similes and metaphors. Through realism, writers explain things without decorative language or sugar-coating the events. Realism is something opposite to romanticism and idealism.

8. Beat Of Generations (1950s)

Beat Generation was a literary movement started by a group of authors whose work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. The bulk of their work was published and popularized throughout the 1950s. The central elements of Beat culture are the rejection of standard narrative values, making a spiritual quest, the exploration of American and Eastern religions, the rejection of economic materialism, explicit portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation and exploration.

Also see: Beat Generation detailed article.

9. Modernism

Modernism relates to a sequence of cultural movements that happened in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. They included reforming developments in architecture, art, music, literature, and applied techniques. Modernism flourished between 1860s and 1940s; preferably till 1945 when World War II ended. During that time, a lot of importance was given to literary works. Also, this movement paid a lot of significance to original works, such as paintings, sculpture, architecture, and poetry. In fact, during this time original art was considered a primary creation.


Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from modernism. The term has been more generally applied to describe what postmodernists believe to be the historical era following modernity and the tendencies of this era.

In fact, post modernism is typically defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony or rejection towards ideologies and various tenets of universalism, which included objective notions of reason, human nature, social progress, among others. Moreover, this movement is associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction and post structuralism.

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One Reply to “10 Important Literary Periods And Movements”

  1. Long time supporter, and thought I’d drop a comment.
    Your wordpress site is very sleek.
    Keep up the good work– and hope you all take care of yourself during the coronavirus scare!

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