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These timelines will help you connect authors and literary works to their historical contexts.


Texts and Contexts

American Literature 1865-1914

Texts Contexts
1910 Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Miniver Cheevy"
1914 Robert Frost, "Home Burial" • Carl Sandburg, "Chicago"
  • 1914-18 World War I
1915 Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology • Ezra Pound begins Cantos
  • 1915 Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to northern industrial cities
1916 Susan Glaspell, Trifles
  • 1917 United States declares war on Germany • revolution in Russia brings Communist party to power
1918 Willa Cather, My Ántonia
  • 1918 Daylight Savings Time instituted to allow more daylight for war production
1919 Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio • Amy Lowell, "Madonna of the Evening Flowers"
  • 1919 Senate limits U.S. participation in League of Nations; does not ratify Versailles Treaty to end World War I
1920 Pound, "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" • Edwin Arlington Robinson, "Mr. Flood's Party"
  • 1920 18th Amendment prohibits the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages • 19th Amendment gives women the vote
  • 1920-27 Sacco-Vanzetti trial
1921 T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land • Claude McKay, "Africa, America" • Marianne Moore, "Poetry" • Langston Hughes, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
1922 Mina Loy, "Brancusi's Golden Bird"
1923 Wallace Stevens, "Sunday Morning" • Jean Toomer, Cane
  • 1922 Fascism rises in Europe; Mussolini becomes dictator of Italy
1924 H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), "Helen"
  • 1924 Exclusionary immigration act bars Asians from the United States
1925 Countee Cullen, "Heritage" • Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans • Alain Locke publishes The New Negro, leading anthology of the Harlem Renaissance
1926 Hart Crane, The Bridge
1927 Zora Neale Hurston, "The Eatonville Anthology"
1928 Nella Larsen, Quicksand
  • 1927 The Jazz Singer, first full-length "talkie," is released
  • 1929 Stock market crashes; Great Depression begins
1930 Katherine Anne Porter, "Flowering Judas"
  • 1930 Sinclair Lewis is first American to win Nobel Prize for literature
1931 E. E. Cummings, "i sing of Olaf glad and big" • F. Scott Fitzgerald, "Babylon Revisited"
  • 1931 Scottsboro trial
1932 Black Elk and John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks • Sterling A. Brown, "He Was a Man"
  • 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" introduces social security, welfare, and unemployment insurance
  • 1933 Adolf Hitler's Nationalist Socialist (Nazi) party comes to power in Germany • 18th Amendment repealed
1934 William Carlos Williams, "This Is Just to Say"
1936 Ernest Hemingway, "The Snows of Kilimanjaro"
  • 1934 Wheeler- Howard (Indian Reorgani­ zation) Act passed, ending Dawes era
  • 1936 Hitler begins armed occupation of Europe
  • 1936-39 Spanish Civil War: U.S. volunteers among those fighting against General Franco, who becomes dictator of Spain
1937 Thomas Wolfe, "The Lost Boy" • Pietro di Donato, "Christ in Concrete"
1938 John Dos Passos, U.S.A. • William Faulkner, "Barn Burning"
  • 1937 Stalin's purges
1939 Richard Wright, "The Man Who Was Almost a Man"
1940 Eugene O'Neill, Long Day's Journey into Night
  • 1939-45 World War II • the Holocaust
  • 1941 Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, Hawaii • United States enters war against Japan and its allies, Germany and Italy
1942 Wallace Stevens, "Of Modern Poetry"
  • 1942 President Roosevelt orders internment of Japanese Americans in camps
1944 H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), The Walls Do Not Fall • Marianne Moore, "In Distrust of Merits"
  • 1944 D Day; Allied invasion of Normandy
  • 1945 German forces surrender in spring; Japan surrenders in August following explosion of two nuclear bombs over Japanese cities