Abraham Lincoln University Early 20th Century American Literature Timeline All assignment details are in the attached file. Complete the Timeline of Early 20th Century American Literature by adding ONE literary title (short
story, novel, or poem) and ONE influential event for that literary title for each of the decades listed.
You will also need to explain how the two pieces are connected. You should be able to complete this
as you read through the lesson, filling in events on your timeline, however you may also use outside
sources if you would like. You should have a total of eight events on your timeline before submitting
it to your instructor.
Make sure response fit under the following descriptions:
You have identified and explained with excellence one event and one literary influence for each of
the four decades on this timeline and demonstrated how they are connected to one another.
You have written with excellence a timeline with eight events and literary influences with
zeronoticeable errors in spelling or grammar.
Symbolism originated in the revolt of certain French poets against the rigid conventions governing
both technique and theme in traditional French poetry, as evidenced in the precise description of
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The Symbolists wished to liberate poetry from its expository functions and its formalized oratory in
order to describe instead the fleeting, immediate sensations of man’s inner life and experience. They
attempted to evoke the ineffable intuitions and sense impressions of man’s inner life and to
communicate the underlying mystery of existence through a free and highly personal use of
metaphors and images that, though lacking in precise meaning, would nevertheless convey the state
of the poet’s mind and hint at the “dark and confused unity” of an inexpressible reality.
Such Symbolist forerunners as Verlaine and Rimbaud were greatly influenced by the poetry and
thought of Charles Baudelaire, particularly by the poems in his Les Fleurs du mal (1857). They
adopted Baudelaire’s concept of the correspondances between the senses and combined this with
the Wagnerian ideal of a synthesis of the arts to produce an original conception of the musical
qualities of poetry. Thus, to the Symbolists, the theme within a poem could be developed and
“orchestrated” by the sensitive manipulation of the harmonies, tones, and colours inherent in
carefully chosen words. The Symbolists’ attempt to emphasize the essential and innate qualities of
the poetic medium was based on their conviction of the supremacy of art over all other means of
expression or knowledge.
Two New England poets, Edwin Arlington Robinson and Robert Frost, who were not noted for
technical experimentation, won both critical and popular acclaim in this period. Like Robinson, Frost
used traditional stanzas and blank verse in volumes such as A Boy’s Will (1913), his first book, and
North of Boston (1914), New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), and A Masque of Reason
(1945). The best-known poet of his generation, Frost, like Robinson, saw and commented upon the
tragic aspects of life in poems such as Design, Directive, and Provide, Provide. Frost memorably
crafted the language of common speech into traditional poetic form, with epigrammatic effect.
Just as modern American drama had its beginnings in little theatres, modern American poetry took
form in little magazines. Particularly important was Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, founded by Harriet
Monroe in Chicago in 1912. The surrounding region soon became prominent as the home of three
poets: Vachel Lindsay, Carl Sandburg, and Edgar Lee Masters. Lindsay’s blend of legendary lore
and native oratory in irregular odelike forms was well adapted to oral presentation, and his lively
readings from his works contributed to the success of such books as General William Booth Enters
into Heaven, and Other Poems (1913) and The Congo, and Other Poems (1914). Sandburg wrote of
life on the prairies and in Midwestern cities in Whitmanesque free verse in such volumes as Chicago
Poems(1916) and The People, Yes (1936). Masters’s very popular Spoon River Anthology (1915)
consisted of free-verse monologues by village men and women, most of whom spoke bitterly of their
Ezra Pound (1885-1972).
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Robert Frost (1874-1963).
© Rollie McKenna / Photo Researchers / Universal Images Group / ImageQuest 2013
Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935).
© Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965).
© T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Except for a period after World War II, when he was confined in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in
Washington, D.C., Ezra Pound lived outside the United States after 1908. He had, nevertheless, a
profound influence on 20th-century writing in English, both as a practitioner of verse and as a patron
and impresario of other writers. His most controversial work remained The Cantos, the first
installment of which appeared in 1926 and the latest in 1959 (Thrones: 96–109 de los cantares), with
a fragmentary addendum in 1968 (Drafts & Fragments of Cantos CX–CXVII).
Like Pound, to whom he was much indebted, T.S. Eliot lived abroad most of his life, becoming a
British subject in 1927. His first volume, Prufrock and Other Observations, was published in 1917. In
1922 appeared The Waste Land, the poem by which he first became famous. Filled with fragments,
competing voices, learned allusions, and deeply buried personal details, the poem was read as a
dark diagnosis of a disillusioned generation and of the modern world. As a poet and critic, Eliot
exercised a strong influence, especially in the period between World Wars I and II. In what some
critics regard as his finest work, Four Quartets (1943), Eliot explored through images of great beauty
and haunting power his own past, the past of the human race, and the meaning of human history.
© 2013 The Granger Collection / Universal Images Group / ThinkQuest
The Imagists wrote succinct verse of dry clarity and hard outline in which an exact visual image
made a total poetic statement. Imagism was a successor to the French Symbolist movement, but,
whereas Symbolism had an affinity with music, Imagism sought analogy with sculpture.
In 1914 Pound turned to Vorticism, and Amy Lowell largely took over leadership of the group.
Among others who wrote Imagist poetry were John Gould Fletcher and Harriet Monroe; and Conrad
Aiken, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, D.H. Lawrence, and T.S. Eliot were influenced by it in
their own poetry.
Learn more about this period of social activism and political reform in the United States known as the
Womans Right March, 1913
In both Europe and the United States, the surge of industry during the mid- and late 19th century
was accompanied by rapid population growth, unfettered business enterprise, great speculative
profits, and public failures in managing the unwanted physical consequences of development. Giant
sprawling cities developed during this era, exhibiting the luxuries of wealth and the meanness of
poverty in sharp juxtaposition.
Eventually the corruption and exploitation of the era gave rise to the Progressive movement, of
which city planning formed a part. The slums, congestion, disorder, ugliness, and threat of disease
provoked a reaction in which sanitation improvement was the first demand. Significant betterment of
public health resulted from engineering improvements in water supply and sewerage, which were
essential to the further growth of urban populations.
Later in the century the first housing reform measures were enacted. The early regulatory laws (such
as Great Britain’s Public Health Act of 1848 and the New York State Tenement House Act of 1879)
set minimal standards for housing construction. Implementation, however, occurred only slowly, as
governments did not provide funding for upgrading existing dwellings, nor did the minimal rentpaying ability of slum dwellers offer incentives for landlords to improve their buildings.
Nevertheless, housing improvement occurred as new structures were erected, and new legislation
continued to raise standards, often in response to the exposés of investigators and activists such as
Jacob Riis in the United States and Charles Booth in England.
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