What are some major trends in twentieth-century English literature?
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There were many major trends and literary movements in English twentieth-century literature. Perhaps the most significant was the bifurcation of literature into literary and popular, with the two developing different styles, genres, and readerships. In literary or highbrow literature, Modernism typified the major direction of literary texts with its recondite language and references, focus on a narrow, elite audience, and stylistic innovations. It also importantly suggests a breakdown in the unity of cultural and intellectual traditions, as epitomized in Eliot's description of the wasteland:
These fragments I have shored against my ruins
Other major trends include social critique (Harlem Renaissance, ANgry Young Men, 1960s protest literature, feminist literature), the rise of hyphenated literatures (Asian-British, African-American, Anglo-Indian, etc.), and the growing influence of television, film, video games and other media on literature.
"Trends" in culture seems to designate a propensity to move toward a different direction. It can be dissociated from "fad" which refers to a movement which is momentary or an even fleeting one. In the sixties, the counterculture established new patterns of thought that first appeared as mere fads but came to aim at long-lasting changes in norms and life styles. Trends in literature may also be synonymous with that particular feature.
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