Can someone please help me create a one-sheet (a single sheet of paper that may contain a variety of information about its subject) for each of the major movement in British Literature: - Old...

Can someone please help me create a one-sheet (a single sheet of paper that may contain a variety of information about its subject) for each of the major movement in British Literature:

- Old English or Anglo-Saxon period

- Middle English

- English Renaissance (which includes)

           - Tudor period, Elizabethan Period, Jacobean Period, Caroline Period, Commonwealth.

- Romanticism

- Victorian Period

- Modern Period

- Postmodern

- The Enlightenment

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

[As responses to this question would be pages and pages and well beyond the scope of the format here, links will be provided for information here at eNotes on many of the literary movements about which queries have been made. Others will be addressed here] 

  • Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066)

When the last Roman legions departed from Britain in order to defend Rome in A.D. 407, the Britains faced the new invaders, the Anglo-Saxons, who brought with them their pagan beliefs and a grim, fatalistic view of the world. These Germanic invaders were followed by Roman missionaries, who brought Christianity with them; thus, greatly varied kinds of literature developed including the oral poetry of the Anglo-Saxons along with written historical and religious prose.

Because much of the literature of this time was oral, it was composed in rhyme and regular rhythm which were easier to memorize and remember. For the same reason, alliteration was also employed in the verses. In addition, Anglo-Saxon poetry displayed a penchant for compound metaphoric naming, such as, for example, "whale's home" for the sea.

Part of the medieval literary genre was the planctus, which means "complaint"; it differs from the elegy as it has a fictional speaker and a subject that may be a loss from something other than death. The Exeter Book, including "The Wanderer" exemplify this elegiac and lyric poem. This poem is written in Old English, the language that existed from 500-1150. Of course, the epic poem of Beowulf is representative of epics of this period. Anglo-Saxon epic poetry is characterizes by certain distinctive features: a two-part line of two strong beats with each line separated by a caesura, or pause. Another feature is the kenning, an indirect, but colorful way of naming something: The sea is a whalepath, for example.

While the pagan influence is predominant in this poem, there are some elements of Christianity such as the poet giving the true lineage of Grendal and his mother the disguise of a biblical origin:

He [Grendel] was spawned in that slime,....
By God, punished forever for the crime
Of Abel's death.

Also, in Beowulf is the pagan/Christian duality of heroism and brotherly love.

  • Middle English (1066-1485)

The Anglo-Saxon Period ended with the Norman Conquest of 1066 when William of Normandy defeated Harold II in the Battle of Hastings. He became William the Conqueror and King William I. Because French (the Normans spoke a dialect of French) then became the language of the court, and, with the suppression of the Anglo-Saxon nobility, English changed from its Anglo-Saxon form to Middle English, in which Old French had a powerful influence. This influence, however, ended in 1154 when Henry Plantagenet came to the throne as Henry II. King Henry came into conflict with the Catholic Church, however, as he sought to curb some abuses of the clergy. After he appointed Thomas Becket as archbishop at Canterbury, his problems did not end as Becket sided with the Pope on some issues. The king's knights, therefore, murdered Becket in his cathedral at Canterbury, but the Henry quickly condemned this action and attempted to atone for it by making a holy journey, or pilgrimage to Becket's tomb. Henceforth, the pilgrimage to Canterbury became a traditional means of displaying religious devotion. Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales relates such a pilgrimage, and marks a change from literature being written in French to be composed in the vernacular. Many of Chaucer's words are clearly recognizable to the modern English reader; for instance, "fro" is from, "riden" is ride "knyght" is knight.

This period is also the beginning of the legendary era with works on the adventures of Robin Hood, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as La Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Malory, which was written in French. In this latter part of the 1400's the Age of Chivalry and Romance began. Nevertheless, the use of the vernacular increased after 1380 as John Wycliffe directed the English translation of the Bible. Like Wycliffe an English poet, William Langland, was concerned about the oppression of the poor by the wealthy. He delighted in symbolic pattern, alliteration, and allegory; indubitably, his most famous work is Piers Plowman

This musicality of language was perpetuated with the fondness of Europeans of the Middle Ages for the lyre. Lyric (a derivative of "lyre") poems were both secular and religious. Also, during this period was the burgeoning of the morality play, and the dramas of the Bard himself, William Shakespeare, had their origins in these morality plays, the most famous of which is Everyman, adapted from a Dutch play around 1500.

Literary movements of this period include tales of chivalry combined with fantastic elements of sorcerers, wizard, dragons, and giants. Fantasy, adventure, courtly love, and romance are included in such works while, at the same time, religion played a role, especially in the mystery plays and morality plays.

  • English Renaissance (1485-1625)

Begun in Italy, the Renaissance (French for "rebirth") was a flowering of literary, artistic, and intellectual development, inspired by the Greek and Roman arts and the revival of Latin and Greek languages. Nevertheless, the English language shed some of its regional differences and became more standardized.

Major changes in English history occurred with the Protestant Reformation and the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the differences between the Stuart king, James I and the Puritans, who migrated to America to avoid religious persecution. During the Elizabethan Age, there was a virtual explosion of cultural activity. Architecture, sculpture, and painting flourished, new hymns in the Anglican church and the popular madrigal, a love song sung without musical accompaniment often with harmonizing voices became popular. As a prelude to the great age of Elizabethan literature, Thomas More's work in Latin, Utopia portrayed a new society freed of medieval superstition and prejudice.

Elizabeth poetry wrought the sonnet cycle with Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella and Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queene. Christopher Marlowe popularized the pastoral verse in such poems as "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love," which extolled the beauty and simplicity of rural life, to which Sir Walter Raleigh wrote his famous response, extolling the adventurous life, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd."  Of course, the spectacular William Shakespeare brought the sonnet to new heights.

Christopher Marlowe became the first major Elizabethan dramatist with such plays as Tamburlaine the Great and The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus. Shakespeare also brought to bloom Elizabethan drama which often drew upon classical tales. Plays were written in crafted blank verse [14 lines of iambic pentameter] with vivid imagery and other literary techniques. Certainly, prose took a back set to poetry and drama. But, the most monumental prose composition was the translation of the Bible commissioned by King James.


Here are some links to assist with other periods available here on eNotes:


Victorian Period :