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Western Literature

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Title: Western Literature


1
Western Literature
  • A Very Basic Introduction

2
Historical Periods of Development
  • Oral origins
  • The Sumerians
  • The Greeks
  • The Romans
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance
  • Post-Renaissance to Present Day

3
Oral Origins
  • Western Literature traces its origins to the time
    before writing. Tales, legends, and oral
    histories were told and retold, down across the
    generations. Over time, bits and pieces of these
    distinct forms blended together to become the
    literary form we now call the Epic.

4
Oral Origins, cont.
  • The epic began as an oral form. Epics were
    recited by poets/performers who memorized vast
    amounts of information and then recited/performed
    that information for listeners.
  • Over time, as writing was developed, these epics
    were written down.

5
Oral Origins, cont.
  • An epic or heroic poem is
  • A long narrative poem
  • On a serious subject
  • Written in a grand or elevated style
  • Centered on a larger-than-life hero.

6
Oral Origins, cont.
  • Epics tend to have the following characteristics
  • An opening in medias res (that is, they begin in
    the middle)
  • An invocation to the Muse (a goddess whom the
    poet hopes will inspire her/him)
  • A concern with the fate of a nation or people
  • The intervention of supernatural figures who are
    interested in the outcome of the action
  • Long catalogues (lists of ships, characters,
    and/or places)
  • Extensive battle scenes
  • A few stock episodes, including a visit to the
    underworld.

7
The Sumerians
  • The first known epic to be written down was The
    Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was an historical
    king of Uruk in Babylonia, on the River Euphrates
    in modern Iraq he lived about 2700 B.C. Although
    historians tend to emphasize Hammurabi and his
    code of law, the civilizations of the
    Tigris-Euphrates area, among the first
    civilizations, focus rather on Gilgamesh and the
    legends accruing around him to explain, as it
    were, themselves. Many stories and myths were
    written about Gilgamesh, some of which were
    written down about 2000 B.C. in the Sumerian
    language on clay tablets which still survive.
    These Sumerian Gilgamesh stories were integrated
    into a longer poem, versions of which survive not
    only in Akkadian (the Semitic language, related
    to Hebrew, spoken by the Babylonians) but also on
    tablets written in Hittite (an Indo-European
    language, a family of languages which includes
    Greek and English). The Epic of Gilgamesh was
    originally written in the script known as
    cuneiform, which means wedge-shaped.

8
The Greeks
  • Around 700 B.C., a Greek poet named Homer wrote
    the Iliad.
  • The Iliad belongs to the epic genre. Since the
    epic is by its very nature lengthy (and the Iliad
    is no exception), it tends to be rather loosely
    organized. Not every episode is absolutely
    necessary to the main story and digressions are
    not uncommon. In the Units to follow, you will
    notice how different in this regard is the genre
    of drama, in which every episode tends to be
    essential to the plot and digressions are
    inappropriate.
  • The events narrated in epics are drawn from
    legend rather than invented by the poet and are
    typically of great significance, as in the case
    of the Iliad, which relates an important incident
    centering around Achilles, the greatest hero of
    the Greeks in the Trojan War, the most celebrated
    war of Greek legend. A second epic by Homer, the
    Odyssey, tells the story of the journey of
    Odysseus, another celebrated Greek hero, on his
    way home from the Trojan War, after the Greeks
    have won.
  • Epics were written in poetic form.

9
The Greeks, cont.
  • Homers epics were just the beginning of the
    great literary tradition of ancient Greece. It is
    difficult to overestimate the importance of this
    body of written work. All of Western Literature
    traces its origins to Classical Greece, and the
    literary works of ancient Greek authors. Homer,
    Sappho, Pindar, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus,
    and many other writers produced works of
    literature that have been read and re-read for
    more than two thousand years.

10
The Greeks, cont.
  • Unlike Homer, who wrote epic poetry around 700
    B.C., writers like Aeschylus, Sophocles,
    Euripides, and Aristophanes wrote plays in the
    fifth century B.C.
  • Plays that were acted succeeded epic poems that
    were recited. They were still poetry, but with
    actors and dancing. Plays were often performed
    in honor of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and
    revelry.  The plays had 3 actors (all men,
    playing a number of roles), a fifteen-member
    chorus, and a paucity of props. Like epics, they
    were usually dramatizations of well-known
    stories/legends.
  • Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.), Sophocles (496-406
    B.C.), and Euripides (486-406 B.C.), are known
    for their tragedies. Aristophanes (450-385 B.C.)
    is known for his comedies.
  • Tragedy and comedy formed separate genres, but
    both types of drama were performed on stage,
    originally at the Festival of Dionysus in Athens.

11
The Greeks, cont.
  • Characteristics of Greek Tragedy
  • Protagonist (hero) has a tragic flaw, a single
    character flaw that eventually arouses pity and
    terror (according to Aristotle)
  • A chorus (the chorus commented on events, filled
    in gaps, helped create the proper moods,
    counseled actors to speak their thoughts, and
    acted as "the conscience" for the actors)
  • Reliance on supernatural elements
  • Respect for fate
  • Destruction of the hero because of the flaw
  • Catharsis (a point at which the audience is
    purged of the character flaw.  They learn a moral
    lesson through the hero's destruction and come
    away clean).

12
The Greeks, cont.
  • Greek Comedy
  • Both comedy and tragedy evolved from religious
    rituals to the god Dionysus.
  • Tragedy evolved from the more serious aspects of
    worship. Comedy evolved from the more sexual,
    orgiastic aspect of the rituals.
  • Greek Comedy is divided into two periods Old
    Comedy (5th century B.C.) and New Comedy (4th and
    3rd century B.C.)

13
The Greeks, cont.
  • Old Comedy generally included the following
    characteristics
  • It was very bawdy, with frequent intimations of
    sexuality (it was, after all, part of a ritual
    worship to Dionysus).
  • It was full of a lot of physical (slapstick)
    humor.
  • It had elements of farce things were portrayed
    as ridiculous and over the top.
  • It almost always contained harsh satirical
    critiques of religious, political, military, or
    intellectual institutions.
  • It often lampooned specific individuals
    (especially those in power).
  • The only practitioner of Old Comedy whose works
    remain extant is Aristophanes.

14
The Greeks, cont.
  • After the end of the Peloponnesian War (a long
    conflict between the Greek city-states of Athens
    and Sparta, which Athens eventually lost),
    freedom of speech was curtailed in Athens, and
    the practitioners of the Old Comedy had to work
    under severe censorship. These conditions gave
    birth to the New Comedy, which later came to
    dominate the classical stage.
  • We are most familiar with the New Comedy through
    Shakespeare, who adopted its models as his own.
  • The plot was generally based around a frustrated
    romance a man and a woman who want to get
    married but cannot, due to some combination of
    scheming servants, feuding parents, etc.
  • The comedy consisted in the overcoming of the
    obstacles and the final marriage of the couple in
    love.

15
The Greeks, cont.
  • The Greeks made too many contributions to
    literature (and art, and architecture, and math,
    and politics, and history, etc.) to list even a
    meaningful fraction of them here.
  • The main thing to remember is that much of that
    which we think of as Western descends from the
    culture they developed.
  • In a way, we are all their heirsnot only
    literarily and culturally, but epistemologically
    (in the way we see and experience our world).

16
The Romans
  • In its earliest phases, Roman literature was
    entirely inspired by Greek literature, and it
    remained heavily indebted to Greek models.
  • Livius Andronicus (240-207 B.C.), the father of
    Latin literature, was himself a Greek, reputedly
    from Tarentum, and wrote Latin adaptations of
    Homers Odyssey and of Greek tragedies and
    comedies.
  • Such adaptations, presented in Greek dress and
    with a notional Greek setting, became a staple
    element in public dramatic performances from the
    late third century B.C. The comedies of Plautus
    (died 184 B.C.) and Terence (190-159 B.C.) are
    examples of this adaptation.
  • Later, from the time of the Civil Wars and into
    the reign of the early Emperors and beyond, Roman
    literature took on a more distinctive flavor.
  • As with the Greeks, so many great Roman authors
    lived and worked over a period of years that it
    is impossible to mention even a significant
    fraction. A few key examples will have to do.

17
The Romans, cont.
  • Examples of great Roman poets from the period of
    the civil wars and the early Empire include
    Virgil (70-19 B.C.) and Ovid (43 B.C. to 17
    A.D.).
  • Virgils Aeneid, for example, tells the story of
    the founding of Rome by Aeneas, a Trojan prince
    who escaped the fall of Troy and journeyed to
    Italy to found the city of Rome.
  • The Aeneid is modeled on the great epics of
    Homer however, Virgil incorporates uniquely
    Roman themes and other elements into his epic
    that separate it from its Greek predecessors.
  • Ovids Metamorphoses is one of the great works of
    all time. In Metamorphoses, Ovid recounts a
    series of 250 myths that all have to do with a
    metamorphosis of some kind. But some stories
    (for example Phaethon, Pentheus, Heracles) only
    have metamorphosis tacked on as an incidental
    element, almost as an afterthought. Ovid is more
    interested in metamorphosis as a universal
    principle which explains the nature of the world
    Troy falls, Rome rises. Nothing is permanent.

18
The Romans, cont.
  • Perhaps the greatest Roman contribution to the
    body of Western literature was the way in which
    they not only adopted and adapted, but also kept
    alive and disseminated, the literature of the
    Greeks.
  • When the Romans conquered Western Europe, they
    brought their taste for Greek civilization and
    culture with them.
  • As the Romans civilized Western Europe, they
    spread these tastes to the peoples they
    conqueredincluding the eventual inhabitants of
    modern-day England, France, Germany, Italy,
    Spain, Portugal, etc.
  • In a way, our literature is descended from the
    Greeks, through the Romans.

19
The Middle Ages
  • For several hundred years, from about the first
    to around the fifth century A.D., Rome was the
    greatest power on Earth, ruling Britain, France,
    Germany, and the countries around the
    Mediterranean Sea. The Romans brought relative
    peace and stability to the areas under their
    control.
  • However, in northern Europe, there were many
    fierce tribes that were only held at bay by the
    armed might of the Romans.
  • Around 400 AD, the Roman Empire began to weaken
    and these northern tribes swept across the
    continent of Europe and plundered the city of
    Rome.
  • In 476 A.D., the Western Roman Empire collapsed
    and was gradually replaced by many small kingdoms
    ruled by a strong warrior.

20
The Middle Ages, cont.
  • For many years, Europe was without the luxuries
    and richesas well as the peace and
    stabilitythat had marked the height of Rome.
    Many centuries later, a new interest in learning
    would mark the beginning of the Renaissance. The
    thousand years between is called the Middle Ages
    or the Medieval period.
  • The early Middle Ages are often called the "Dark
    Ages" because the great civilizations of Greece
    and Rome had fallen. Life in Europe during the
    Middle Ages was very hard. Very few people could
    read or write (only the rich and the clergy) and
    nobody expected conditions to improve. The only
    hope for most people during the Middle Ages was
    their strong belief in Christianity, and the hope
    that life in heaven would be better than life on
    earth.
  • This period began and ended for different
    countries at different times across Europe. It
    also affected different areas of the continent in
    different ways.

21
The Middle Ages, cont.
  • The northern tribes did not stamp out learning
    completely, only momentarily set it back. The
    Catholic Church was already a powerful
    institution at the end of the Roman Empire and it
    continued to be the unifying force between the
    many small kingdoms that would become Europe.
  • The Church salvaged much from the ruins of the
    ancient world and became one of the centers of
    learning during the Middle Ages.
  • The people of the Middle Ages had a rich culture
    and produced many advances in art, literature,
    science, and medicine, and paved the way for the
    ideas that would become the beginning of the
    Renaissance.

22
The Middle Ages, cont.
  • During the thousand years of the Middle Ages,
    many works of literature were written by many
    authors in different parts of Europe. So any
    sort of comprehensive coverage is impossible
    here. As an example, we will focus on a
    particular area (France), during a particular
    time period (the twelfth century).
  • A period of great development and achievement in
    written works, the twelfth century produced a
    genre unique to literary history. It is named by
    the linguistic coincidence of its language and
    form "roman," translated as romance.
  • The period from 1150 to 1165 is marked by the
    appearance of the four so-called "romans
    antiques (old romances). The first three of
    these romances are anonymous (the Roman d'Eneas,
    the Roman d'Alexandre, and the Roman de Thèbes),
    while the fourth, the Roman de Troie, is
    attributed to Benoît de Sainte-Maure.

23
The Middle Ages, cont.
  • In the last third of the twelfth century,
    Chrétien de Troyes composed his five romances of
    King Arthur, master works which, in the case of
    the Chevalier de la Charrette (circa 1177-1179,
    referred to by many as Lancelot), and the Conte
    du Graal (circa 1181-1190, also known as
    Perceval) gave rise to copious and divergent
    continuations and served as starting points for
    the elaboration of properly medieval myths (the
    love of Lancelot and Guenevere, the holy Grail)
    which are still popular today. Chrétien's other
    romances include Erec et Enide (1170), Cligés
    (circa 1176), and the Chevalier au Lion (circa
    1177-1179, also known as Yvain).
  • Along with the Charrette and the Graal, these
    romances serve as basic texts for the
    understanding of the cultured aristocracy of the
    twelfth century and as we will see later in the
    course, they serve as important milestones in the
    development of Western Literature from the poetic
    epic form of antiquity to the modern prose forms
    of the novel and short story cycle.

24
The Middle Ages, cont.
  • Whether they are concerned with ancient violence
    (the Roman de Troie and the Roman de Thèbes),
    historical characters and the origins of powerful
    military and political states (the Roman d'Eneas
    and the Roman d'Alexandre), or whether, as Erich
    Auerbach has said of the works of Chrétien de
    Troyes, they seek a self-portrayal of feudal
    knighthood with its mores and ideals, these
    twelfth-century romances are linked by a basic
    concern for the secular past and a vision of
    history which, in a world where daily life was
    imbued with Christianity, diverges from the
    historical vision of medieval theologians, that
    is to say salvation history.
  • In the romances of Chrétien de Troyes, the focus
    is on an idealized secular world (a sort of
    perfected version of the world in which people
    lived their lives), rather than on the eternal
    reward that awaited the long-suffering citizens
    of Medieval Europe. Chivalry, unrequited love,
    heroic deedsall of these appear in the romances
    of 12th century France.

25
The Renaissance
  • Europe began to experience great change by about
    1450. Within one hundred years, Columbus had
    sailed to America, literacy spread, scientists
    made great discoveries, and artists created work
    that still inspires us today.
  • Historians call the next period of European
    history the "Renaissance," or the "rebirth." The
    Renaissance is the beginning of modern history.
  • Perhaps the most important thing to remember
    about the Renaissance is that it was, above all,
    a kind of rediscovery. The Europeans of the
    early Renaissance looked back across time to the
    examples of Greece and Rome. But they wrote
    their works in their own languages.

26
The Renaissance, cont.
  • One of the most important inventions in all of
    history, and the one which helped most to usher
    in the general rebirth of learning that defined
    the Renaissance, was the printing press.
  • Invented in 1436 by a 39 year old German man
    named Johann Gutenberg, the printing press was a
    great improvement over hand-copying.
  • Before the development of this time-saving and
    economical machine, monks had to hand copy
    everything. This time-consuming and tedious
    process made books and scripts extremely hard to
    come by, and astronomically expensive.
  • Gutenberg used his printing press to put ink on
    hundreds of individual letters that could be
    combined in numerous ways to create a entire page
    of text. After this stage was completed, as many
    copies as desired could be rendered. However, to
    print a different page, the individual letters
    had to be completely rearranged.
  • This great invention helped Gutenberg reach his
    greatest achievement of the first mass-production
    of the Bible, which he published in 1456 in
    Mainz, Germany.

27
The Renaissance, cont.
  • Although the Renaissance officially began in the
    fifteenth century, it peaked in the sixteenth.
    The sixteenth century in Europe was a time of
    unprecedented change. It was the beginning of the
    modern era, and it saw a revolution in almost
    every aspect of life.
  • The century opened with the discovery of a new
    continent. The renaissance, which began in Italy,
    was peaking and spreading north, even arriving in
    backwaters like England. Life was largely
    prosperous for the average person, the economy
    was growing.
  • The mechanisms of commerce, systems of
    international finance, ocean-going trading
    fleets, an entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, were all
    building a recognizably capitalist, money-based
    economy.
  • Geniuses were stepping all over each other on the
    street corners producing scientific innovation
    after innovation. Technological innovations like
    gunpowder were changing the nature of warfare and
    the military caste nature of society the cannon
    probably had a great deal to do with the rise of
    the centralized nation state as we know it.

28
The Renaissance, cont.
  • Because the Renaissance was so wide-spread, and
    involved such a major change in all areas of
    Europeand by a less-than-peaceful extension, the
    worldwe will focus here on the English
    Renaissance of the sixteenth century.
  • Sixteenth century England was ruled by the Tudor
    dynasty. This dynasty began with Henry VII, then
    continued through the reigns of Henry VIII,
    Edward VI, Mary I (Bloody Mary), and Elizabeth I.
  • The English Renaissance reached its height during
    the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This period
    (1558-1603) has often been called The Golden
    Age of England.
  • During Elizabeths reign, England went from a
    backwater to the most powerful country in the
    world. Arts and literature flourished, along
    with commerce. Many of the writers that worked
    in Elizabeths time are still read today. One of
    them, William Shakespeare, is believe by many to
    be the greatest of all time.

29
The Renaissance, cont.
  • In fact, so many great writers created so many
    great works during the Elizabethan Age, it is
    impossible to discuss even a meaningful fraction
    of them here.
  • Writers like Sir Thomas More, Sir Philip Sidney,
    Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, William
    Shakespeare, John Lyly, Thomas Nashe, Mary
    Herbert, and Thomas Campion (to name a few)
    thrived in the can-do atmosphere of Elizabethan
    England.
  • As you will see later on, drama was reborn during
    the Elizabethan Age. Christopher Marlowe and
    William Shakespeare were the foremost dramatists
    during the reign of Elizabeth. Their plays were
    performed on stage in London to audiences that
    ranged from groundlings (commoners who paid
    almost nothing to stand in front of the stage) to
    royalty.
  • William Shakespeare (1564-1616) wrote many of his
    plays, and his celebrated sonnets, during this
    time.

30
The Renaissance, cont.
  • We know that A Midsummer Night's Dream (probably
    written in late 1594 or 1595), Romeo and Juliet
    (probably 1595) Richard II (probably 1595), King
    John (probably 1596) The Merchant of Venice
    (1596-97) and the Henry IV plays (probably
    1597-98) date from the last decade of the
    sixteenth century. 
  • The 1590s are often called Shakespeare's lyric
    period based on the poetry in plays such as
    Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet and
    Richard II. 
  • By 1599 Shakespeare must have composed Much Ado
    About Nothing.  He may well have also composed As
    You Like It in 1599.   He certainly composed
    Henry V that year and began his string of great
    tragedies with Julius Caesar. There is a record
    of a performance of Julius Caesar at the Globe on
    September 21, 1599.  The Merry Wives of Windsor
    probably also belongs to this period, following
    upon the popularity of the Henry IV plays, though
    it may be slightly later.  
  • Had Shakespeare died in 1599, he would still be
    thought the greatest playwright the world had
    ever known, even before his most mature work had
    been accomplished.

31
The Renaissance, cont.
  • The most important thing to remember about the
    Renaissance is that it was just that a rebirth.
    Shakespeare, like many other Renaissance writers,
    took much of his inspiration (and even some of
    his material) from the Greeks and Romans who came
    before him.
  • Although Shakespeare and others took their
    inspiration from Greek and Roman models, their
    works were products of the age in which they
    lived and wrote.
  • It was during the time of the Renaissance that
    our modern age was born.

32
Post-Renaissance to Present Day
  • The centuries following the end of the
    Renaissance are marked by a continuing diversity
    in Western Literature.
  • All three of the genres we will study this
    semesterdrama, poetry, and fictionflowered in
    every country of Europe, as well as in North and
    South America.
  • To cover individual writers across such a period
    would be impossible. We will therefore look at
    the historical development of literary movements,
    and talk about a few key examples.

33
Post-Renaissance to Present Day
  • Classicism "Classicism" refers (after-the-fact)
    to the literature of Greece and Rome. The general
    argument is that this literature is characterized
    by harmony, balance, discipline, and a searching
    for the essence of the universally "true."
  • Neo-Classicism The decline of the Roman Empire
    was followed by centuries, often called the "Dark
    Ages," with no great flowering of culture. The
    next outburst, so to speak, occurred in Italy in
    the 15th and 16th centuries. Known as the
    Renaissance, this period was a rediscovery, and
    thus in a sense, of re-birth, of classical
    values. In literary theory, this rebirth was
    eventually formalized into a very rigid set of
    "rules" that defined and evaluated literature,
    but often robbed it of the original classical
    spirit of inquiry. This can best be seen in the
    work of the French critic Nicolas
    Boileau-Despreaux (1636-1711). As a a result,
    "Neo-Classical" is sometimes used with the
    negative connotation of "formally imitative, but
    spiritually empty." Other critics, however, view
    "Neo-Classical" as a neutral term simply
    signifying the Classical emphasis on harmony,
    balance, and the universal. In England,
    Neo-Classicism flourished in the eighteenth
    century, the most important representatives
    being  John Dryden and Alexander Pope.    

34
Post-Renaissance to Present Day
  • Romanticism In the early 1800's, the
    Neo-Classical focus on the past was supplanted by
    an interest on the more recent past of individual
    nations the classical sense of reason, by a
    focus on emotion and the classical focus on the
    universal, by a sense of the particular and
    individual. In effect, Romanticism was a
    rebellion against Neo-Classicism, and, like most
    rebellions, it pushed toward the opposite
    extreme. In doing so, however, it brought the
    specifics of different countries and different
    people into the subject matter of literature.
    Usually, however, the tone of Romantic literature
    is idyllic, sentimental, exotic, and/or what we
    still call romantic.
  • Realism A reaction against, and a natural
    development of, Romanticism, Realism was a
    transcontinental movement that shifted the focus
    of literature away from the exotic and
    adventurous toward the everyday lives of the
    common people (primarily the middle class).
    Clerks, civil servants, and their love lives
    become a common topic of literary works. Although
    the primary time frame differs in different
    countries, the Realist movement began around 1840
    and ended in 1880. In France, the most famous
    realist writers were Flaubert and Balzac in
    Russia, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky.

35
Post-Renaissance to Present Day
  • Naturalism The causes of literary movements are
    complex, but in order to be noticed, art has to
    be both good and different. By the end of the
    1880's, writers found it extremely difficult to
    match the realistic skills of a Flaubert or
    Tolstoy and find new "middle class" topics to
    write about. A new movement arose as Naturalist
    writers applied a deterministic philosophy to
    descriptions of the lower classes. The most
    famous Naturalist is probably Emile Zola, in
    France, but the movement also included Maksim
    Gorky in Russia, and Theodore Dreiser in the
    United States. The Naturalists tended to focus on
    the sordid lives of the people on the fringes of
    society, usually suggesting that the sordidness
    of their  lives was caused by external factors
    society, economics, fate.
  • Symbolism The 1890's also saw a different
    reaction to the exhaustion of Realism the
    Symbolists. The Symbolists are, in a sense, a
    return to the Classical tradition. Primarily
    poets, although there are some important prose
    works, the Symbolists emphasized the spiritual,
    mystical, and metaphysical. In France, there was
    Stephane Mallarme in the U.S., Wallace Stevens
    in England/U.S. there was T.S. Eliot.

36
Post-Renaissance to Present Day
  • Modernism Modernists like American author Ernest
    Hemingway, working in the years between 1910 and
    1950, radically changed the way literature is
    written. Modernists, disillusioned by the
    build-up toward, and the aftermath of, World War
    I, no longer trusted authority figures like
    governments and churches. They put their trust
    in art instead, and tried to make a break with
    the past by experimenting with formseeking to
    make it new. Because they thought that they
    had been let down by religion, they sought to
    live for today, rather than trying to live for
    some type of afterlife.
  • Post-Modernism Post-Modernists like John Barth
    sought to write about life in late twentieth
    century. Their writings were characterized by
    Barth as the literature of exhaustion. These
    writers tend to write metafictionthat is,
    fiction that is aware of itself as fiction. They
    emphasize play, and games. And mass media
    pervades their works.

37
Post-Renaissance to Present Day
  • The Marginalized The work of those groups that
    have been marginalized over the course of Western
    history has risen to prominence over the course
    of the twentieth century and promises to carry
    the arc of Western Literature forward through the
    century that is now unfolding. Native American
    writers like Sherman Alexie are now speaking out
    through their writing in ways that were
    impossible in times past. These writers tend to
    write ethnically-based fiction. Often, they use
    culture-based myth to help tell their stories.
    Many times, the oral tradition is emphasized as
    an alternative to the written.
  • This list of literary movements is by no means
    comprehensive or complete. It is merely a
    guideline for the beginning student of Western
    Literature. Over the course of the semester, we
    will look at these movements in much more depth.
  • However, before we can move up to the
    twenty-first century, we must begin our study of
    Western Literature in the past, with the Greeks.
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