Comparison of Literary Period Characteristics

Colonial Period
(primarily Puritan subdivision)
Neo-Classic Period Romantic Period
God-centered universe man-centered universe man & nature are one
faith, piety, grace, plainess reason emotion
imagination
intuition
emphasized religion emphasized science emphasized the mysterious, strange, ancient, supernatural, fantastic
sovereign will of God deism
mechanical view of the universe (clock-work theory)
Over Soul
God intervenes in the personal lives of individuals God intervenes in the affairs of nations not much written about God's intervening
nature seen as mixture of good (God's creation) and evil (devil's domain) nature seen as interaction of physical forces; science becoming dominant nature seen as "mirror to the soul" (Bryant); "Know thyself" and "study nature" mean the same (Emerson); nature instructs man sipritually
leaders are ministers leaders are politicians, businessmen, soldiers leaders continue to be politicians, businessmen, soldiers
John Calvin (theologian who influenced perception of man's relationship to God) John Locke (political theorist who influenced perception of man's relationship to society and other men) Immanuel Kant (German philosopher of Transcendentalism); Emerson (main proponent in US); Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"; William Wordsworth's preface to Lyrical Ballads (1798)
theocracy (God-government)
divine mission
"city on a hill"
society emphasized over individual
conformity
democracy (people-government)
society emphasized over individual
conformity
emerging of "Utopian societies"
individual emphasized over society
individuality
nonconformity
predestination good is rewarded; evil is punished not much written about this
purpose of education is to teach the reading of the Bible (man's relationship to God) purpose of education is to make a better society
democracy requires an educated public
tableau rasa = blank slate
increased emphasis on public education (lyceums and chautauquas)
Types of Writing:
sermons
poetry (little)
spiritual autobiographies
journals/diaries
providential histories
Types of Writing:
newspapers
magazines
political documents
speeches
broadsides and pamphlets
letters
Types of Writing:
newspapers
magazines
short stories
poetry
novels
journals
Purpose of writing:
to instruct God's elect
to record spiritual growth of individual and community
to inspire
Purpose of writing:
to persuade politically
Purpose of writing:
to entertain
to instruct
to educate
to persuade