This listening test contains 15 questions.
To make it more authentic, download the test and do it with pen and paper.
Listen to the introduction lecture to a course on American Literature, and fill in the table below using one to three words for each gap.
|Movement Title||Time Period||Origins||Core Beliefs and Important Figures|
|Transcendentalism||1830s - 1860s||New ____(1)____; the north eastern part of the US||
People can achieve spirituality without ____(2)____.
People are responsible for their own development.
Ralph Waldo Emerson: published Nature in ____(3)____.
|Romanticism||1830s - 1870s||Germany and ____(4)____||
Focus on imagination and strong emotions. American works also typically include the supernatural and focus on human ____(5)____.
Edgar Allen Poe: best known for tales of ____(6)____.
|Realism||__(7)__s - 1920s||France||
Focus on events that were ____(8)____ and typical rather than extraordinary. Many writers were also concerned with social change like ____(9)____.
Mark Twain: Wrote about ordinary life in the ___(10)___ part of America.
|Naturalism||1890s - 1920s||___(11)___||
A person can not escape ___(12)___. A person's behaviour is influenced by that person's ___(13)___.
Jack London: Humans behave like animals in extreme circumstances.
|Modernism||1890s - 1940s||Europe||
Focus on ___(14)___. Finding out what doesn't work and replacing it.
Ezra Pound: Completely changed ___(15)___.
2) organised religion
9) workers' rights OR ending slavery
10) southern OR south-eastern
12) his fate
Have a quick look at the questions first to see what information you need to fill in.
When you hear the movement titles, listen carefully as you will hear your answers next.
Good afternoon. Welcome to the first in our lecture series on the main literary movements in United States history. In this class, we are going to cover nine different movements in literature and discuss the origins and common beliefs of each movement. In this, our first class, I’d like to take some time to give you an overview of these nine movements as a starting point. I’ll go over the period of time each movement covers, the place in the US where it got its start, the key figures in each movement, and the core beliefs of each.
We won’t have time in the course to cover all literary movements, so we’re going to be focusing on the general time period of the 19th and 20th centuries. More specifically, this course will cover most of the important literary movements from 1830 to around 1940.
The first literary movement we’ll be looking at in details is called Transcendentalism. The reason we choose this as our starting point is that writers of this movement or period are the first to show a clear difference from British writers and British cultural tradition and heritage. Before this time, American writers and British writers shared similar views of the world and saw the world through the same lens. We sometimes refer to Transcendentalism as American Transcendentalism to differentiate it from an earlier philosophical movement in Europe. American Transcendentalism was born in New England, the north-eastern part of the United States around the 1830s. Writers in this movement believed, in very general terms, that nature, God, and the individual human were united, were the same, and that individuals did not need organised religion. American Transcendentalists also extolled individualism and encouraged individuals to be reliant on themselves and their development as human beings. Transcendentalists very often were active in social movements. Arguably the most important figure of this movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose book called Nature, published in 1836, remains one of the movements most read works.
The second movement we’re going to talk about is Romanticism, though it is more a series of movements in art, music and literature which lasted about 50 years and spread from Britain and Germany to other parts of the world. Basically, Romanticism is centred on strong emotions and imagination rather than rational thought, and there is an emphasis in American Romanticism to focus on the supernatural and on human psychology. Many works in this genre tell stories full of strong emotion, unexplained phenomenon, and unusual occurrences. One of the most well-known writers considered to be a Romantic writer is Edgar Allen Poe, who is known for his stories filled with mystery and who wrote many works we might now call psychological thrillers or horror stories. Poe thought that the human mind and imagination are factors in how we define reality.
Our next movement is Realism, a movement which started in France in the mid 19th century before spreading to other areas, including the United States in the 1870s. This movement was, in many ways, a reaction to Romanticism in that it rejected strange and, indeed, romantic tales and aimed to show society and humanity as it was in real life. Realists focused on events that were ordinary, usual and typical rather than extraordinary or exotic. Many writers of this movement were also involved with social change, and writing about real conditions of real people was seen as one way to educate the general public for the need for change. One of this movement’s most easily recognisable names is Mark Twain, whose most famous stories were about everyday life in the American south, that is, the south-eastern states of the US, and who worked throughout his life on a variety of social issues including ending slavery and giving workers more rights.
Naturalism is an offshoot of Realism, and also had its roots in France. Both movements focused on the reality of everyday ordinary life, but Naturalism focused on how the outside world, that is, a person’s environment, influences and, perhaps, determines that person’s behaviour. Naturalism generally believes that a person has a destiny or fate, and that person can do little to change that destiny or fate. Many writers in this movement focused on problems in society, like poverty. One of the movement’s most famous writers, Jack London, wrote books which compared animal behaviour to human behaviour, showing that human behaviour is not all that different from animal behaviour in extreme circumstances.
The next movement we are going to look at is Modernism, which, of course, stretches beyond literature into music and art. The movement itself started in Europe in the late 19th century, as with many of the other movements, spread to America shortly after. The tumultuous period ending in World War I and World War II were seen by many as proof that the modern world was horrific and chaotic, and the end of World War II was seen as the start of a new era of humanity, either for good or for bad. Modernism reflects these thoughts, and writers in the Modernist era were looking, generally, to look beyond the old, the traditional, and were trying to find meaning in a new world. If we have to choose one word to describe this movement, we would probably choose the word ‘progress’. Modernists were concerned with finding out what doesn’t work in the world and replacing it with what does. One major figure of the American branch of Modernism was Ezra Pound, who, among other things, revolutionised poetry.