American Literary Movements 19th and 20th Century

American Literary Movements: Learn about the major American literary movements of the 19th and 20th centuries: transcendentalism, realism, naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism.

American Dream

James Truslow Adams was the man who coined the term ‘American dream’ in 1931. According to James Truslow Adams everyone’s life should be improved, richer and plentiful, along with opportunity for every person according to their capability, no matter of social class or birth circumstances. American dream is a national belief of United States which often includes the ideas of right to Liberty, equality, and representative democracy.

According to this belief freedom is described as an opportunity for prosperity and achievement for individual. The supporter of American Dream says that it’s precept is originated by the Declaration of Independence of United States, which states that every man are equal by right to life, liberty and pursuance of happiness. Moreover, the United states’ constitutional preamble also dedicated to secure the blessings of liberty.

Black Mountain School

The term Black Mountain school is used to symbolise the group of some eminent poets who were present when Olson joined the faculty of the liberal arts college of Black Mountain, North Carolina in 1951. They were later became known as the Black Mountain school. Black Mountain is a small experimental college in North Carolina in the late 1940s and early 1950s, whic was democratically run. Like other American poets, the poets associated with the Black Mountain poets also opposed the poetic closure and compression advocate by the new criticism.

Negroism: American Literary Movements

The term ‘Negroism’ is used to reffer the doctrine of equal rights for black people. Moreover, the term nigro also reffers to the group of poets of poets belonging to black community of South America. An eminent writer Dr. Samuel Johnson have categorised the negro poets into three categories in which the first group was. Dunbar group or Dunbar school. The dialects, sentimentality, stereotype character were not acceptable for the second group of negros. The second group wrote poetry on protest, rebellion and despair. The third group of negros had indispensable position in the modernist revolt.


Confessionalism is a literary movement which is used for the works of American poets of mid century. This term was described by the poets of this movement. There are no leader of this movement but still it Plays a significant role in the construction of the modern poetry of America. Firstly, this term’s significance was presented by the crictic M.L. Rosenthal.

This movement has three major elements in which the first one is an undisclosed exposure of painful personal event, the second is a dialectic of private matter and the last one is an intimate, unornamented style. The basic themes of confessional poetry are exploration of pain, trauma and miseries. All the poets associated with this confessionalism movement of poetry have definitely faced personal problem such as crisis in family, harrowing childhood, alcohol or drug issues, disputed Marital status or any other problems of life. The poets belonged to this movement wanted to attract readers to pursue minutely the mental process focused in their problems.

Imaginism: American Literary Movements

It is a poetical movement which was started by an American poet Ezra Pound and initiated by some eminent American English poets. Some prominent features of this group of poetry was that it emphasis on the economy of languages and concerts imagery. The advocacy of free verse became the hallmarks of modern poetry. The idea of imaginist is taken from different different literatures su j as Greek, Latin, Chinease, French, and Japanes imaginism. This movement imaginism is regarded as a necessary beginning to the course of modern English and American literature of twentieth century.

The Beats: American Literary Movements

The term, the Beats was coined by an American writer Kerouac at the end of the 1940s. It stands for the poor, dawn and out, sad, sleeping and in subways. The Beat literature had a ideology to recycle American myths. The Beat group often urged spontanity and anathematised redrafting. The popular works in Beat group are almost invariable those which benefited from arduous crafting. The Beats are often characterized as erudite, bookish, and sedentary.

The verse, Pusan Liberty shows a perfect example of the way in which Best literature’s defining note of alienated truth is artistically made rather than being the result of the another expressing personal experience. That poem presents the scenes of the devastative effects of war.

Transcendentalism (1830s-1860s)

This movement emphasized the importance of individual intuition and experience over reason and tradition. Major figures include Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

Realism (1860s-1910s)

This movement rejected romanticism and emphasized the accurate depiction of real life, often focusing on the lives of ordinary people. Major figures include Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, and Theodore Dreiser.

Naturalism (1890s-1920s)

This movement was a more extreme form of realism that emphasized the deterministic forces of nature and society on human behavior. Major figures include Émile Zola, Theodore Dreiser, and Jack London.

Modernism (1910s-1940s)

This movement rejected traditional forms and conventions of literature, often experimenting with new styles and techniques. Major figures include T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Ernest Hemingway.

Postmodernism (1940s-present)

This movement is characterized by its skepticism of grand narratives and its playful use of language and irony. Major figures include Jorge Luis Borges, Kurt Vonnegut, and Toni Morrison.

These are just a few of the many literary movements that have flourished in the United States over the past two centuries. Each movement has its own unique set of ideas and concerns, and each has had a significant impact on the development of American literature.