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Pre-Colonial Period


Colonial/Revolutionary Period


Romantic/Transcendentalist Period


Realist/Naturalist Period

Elevated Language

Use of complicated vocabulary, syntax and sentence structure


The year the Puritan Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts.


Word order


The rhythm or beat of a line or lines of poetry

Creation Myth

A story that explains how the universe or the earth was created.

Major Realist Writers

Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe

Primary Source

A first-hand source

Secondary source

A source created by someone who did not witness an event firsthand.

Historical Narrative

A story about history.

External Conflict

Man vs Man, Man vs. Nature, Man vs. society

Internal Conflict

Man vs. self

Of Plymouth Plantation

A primary source about the founding of one of America's earliest settlements.

Slave Narratives

Autobiographical accounts by persons who suffered the horrors of slavery.

Sensory Imagery

Words that appeal to the five senses

Writer's Purpose

To inform, to entertain, to express him/herself, or to persuade

Puritan Beliefs

Humans are inherently evil, personal salvation depends on the grace of god, and the Bible is the supreme authority on earth.

Puritan Values

Hard work, family life, community service, and education.

Iambic Pentameter

A form of meter where each line of poetry has ten syllables, following an unstressed-stressed pattern.

Inverted Syntax

The reversal of word order.

Anne Bradstreet

The first important American poet.

Rhyme Scheme

The pattern of rhymes in a poem.


An example of rhyme scheme.

Subject matter of Anne Bradstreet's poetry

Everyday life, family, love between husband and wife

Persuasive Writing

Writing intended to convince a reader to adopt a particular opinion or to perform a certain action.

Loaded Language

Words with strong connotations/emotional associations.

Jonathan Edwards

Puritan minister who wrote and preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.

Emotional Appeals

Rely on emotionally charged language that triggers intense feelings like fear, insecurity, etc.

Logical Appeals

Imply that if the readers are reasonable people, they will do or think what the writer desires.


The main character in a work of literature.


The character who opposes the main character in a work of literature.


The main idea or message at the core of a work of literature


The art of communicating ideas

Persuasive rhetoric

Consists of reasoned arguments in favor of or against particular beliefs or courses of action.

Ethical Appeals

Call forth an audience's sense of rout and wrong

Rhetorical Questions

Questions that don't require answers


An indirect reference to a person, place, event or literary work.


A writer's attitude towards his/her subject matter

Historical Context

The social conditions that influenced a work of literature's creation.


Literary movement that rejected strict Puritanism and focused on emotion and nature above all else.

Famous American Romantics

Longfellow, Irving, Whitman

Famous American Transcendentalists

Emerson, Thoreau


A group of lines in a poem


A direct comparison between two different things.

1st Person Point of View

Narrator is a character in the story and tells the story from his/her point of view

3rd Person Omniscient Point of View

Narrator is outside the action of the story, and knows everything about every character

3rd Person Limited Point of View

Narrator stands outside the story, but focuses on the thoughts, feelings and actions of only one character


A brief statement, usually one sentence long, that expresses a general principle or truth about life.


Henry David Thoreau's collection of essays written while Thoreau lived alone in Walden Woods for over 2 years.


Poetic device frequently used by Walt Whitman that is the use of lists of things, people or attributes.

Free Verse

Poetry without regular patterns of rhyme or meter.


A writer's word choice.

Dark Romanticism

Focused on the dark, evil aspects of human nature.

Famous Dark Romantics

Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne


A work of literature with two levels of meaning: one literal and the other symbolic

End Rhyme

Similar or identical sounds at the end of lines in poetry

Internal Rhyme

Rhymes within a line of poetry

Edgar Allan Poe's Contributions to Literature

Song-like poetry, created the short story, created the murder mystery story


The feeling or atmosphere that a writer conveys with his/her words.


A writer's use of hints or clues to indicate events that will occur later in a story.

Dramatic Irony

When readers know more about a character or a situation than the characters themselves.

Verbal Irony

When someone says one thing, but means another

Situational Irony

A contrast between what is expected to happen and what actually does happen.


The distinctive way that a work of literature is written.

Famous Realist Writers

Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, Harriet Beecher Stowe


A person, place, object or activity that has a concrete meaning but also stands for something beyond itself.


Attempts to present the world as it really is.


An offshoot of realism; attempts to show how human behavior is a product of environment and heredity

Famous Naturalist Writer

Stephen Crane


A pair of rhyming lines in a poem


A stanza of four lines in a poem

Tall Tale

American form of humorous story that features extreme exaggeration.

Local Color

Writing that imitates ordinary life and brings a region alive by portraying its typical dress, mannerisms, customs, character types and dialects.


Patterns of speech specific to certain regions of the country.

Elements of Mark Twain's Writing Style

Comic exaggeration, humorous subject matter, rambling narratives, use of dialect and idioms


Phrase peculiar to a culture.

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