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British Literary Movements

Pixton Lesson Plan on British Literary Movements

Make British literature come to life with comics!

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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Timeline
  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map
  • Character Map
  • Graphic Novel

Your students will create amazing images like these in no time!

Pixton Lesson Plan on British Literary Movements
This free, printable Pixton lesson plan brings British literature to life with comics and storyboards.
Pixton Lesson Plan on British Literary Movements

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British Literary Movements

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Teacher Guide

British Literary Movements

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

Ask students how they can tell the difference between a movie made this year versus a movie made in 1999, 1985 or 1950. They should be able to explain that styles, content and themes change and follow certain trends. Just as modern-day books and movies share certain themes and styles, so has literature throughout time. Explain to students that British prose and poetry are grouped into categories based on when they were written. For that reason, any work of British literature can be grouped into one of seven main literary movements.

Opening Discussion

Introduce the details of each literary movement:

  1. Old-English / Anglo-Saxon (449 - 1066)
    • Characterized by oral tradition and poetry with the use of caesura, alliteration, repetition and four-beat rhyme. Works are written in Old English, which use outdated spellings and vocabulary (vowel use reflects Old English pronunciation). Content includes strong themes of religion, moral instruction and fate, admiration of heroic warriors in battle, and contrasting images of Pagan versus Christian life. Written by Germanic invaders who identified with ancestral tribes (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Dames). Works include Beowulf, The Venerable Bede, and Exeter Book.
  2. Middle English / Medieval (1066 - 1485)
    • Characterized by oral tradition, folk ballads, mystery and miracle plays, morality plays, stock epithets, kennings, frame stories, and moral tales. Works are written in Middle English, which use outdated spellings and vocabulary (vowel use reflects Middle English pronunciation). The content of plays and other performed works of literature include Christian morality, religious devotion and chivalric code of honor, in order to teach the illiterate masses about Christianity. Works include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Domesday Book, L'Morte de Arthur and many tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
  3. The Renaissance (1485 - 1660)
    • Characterized by poetry, sonnet, metaphysical poetry (elaborate metaphors called conceits), and dramatic tragedies, comedies and histories. Content includes a focus on human life on earth as opposed to religion. it also focuses on human potential and the complexities of love - including unrequited, constant, timeless and courtly love. Authors include William Shakespeare, Thomas Wyatt, Ben Johnson, John Donne, Christopher Marlowe, Andre Marvell, Robert Herrick and Katherine Phillips.
  4. Neoclassical (1660 - 1798)
    • Characterized by satire, poetry, essays, letters, diaries, biographies and novels. Content includes an emphasis on the individual, reason, logic, harmony, stability and wisdom. Themes promote a belief that humanity is inherently evil and the world is as it should be. Authors include Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, John Locke, Samuel Johnson, John Bunyan and John Milton.
  5. Romantic (1798 - 1832)
    • Characterized by poetry and lyrical ballads. Content includes a belief that comfort and peace are found in nature and not man-made urbanized cities, human nature is good but society is evil, children are innocent victims of poverty and exploitation, and human knowledge is simply an impression formed in an individual's mind. Works from a movement of protest against society and a desire for personal freedom. Authors include Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Robert Burns, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats.
  6. Victorian (1832 - 1901)
    • Characterized by the novel, including political, detective, serialized and bildungsroman (coming of age) novels. Elegies, drama, magazine stories, and poetry in the form of easy to understand dramatic monologs are also popular. Content includes struggles between the powerful and the masses, aristocratic villains, illustrations of urban poverty to advocate reform, country versus city life, unlikely coincidences, misdirected letters, a lack of discretion, romantic triangles, and heroines needing rescue from danger. This is the first time literature is mass produced and available to the masses via novels and magazines. Authors include Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin, Charlotte Bronte and Robert Browning.
  7. Modern (1901 - Present)
    • Characterized by free verse poetry, epiphanies in literature, speeches, memoirs and novels. Content includes a stream of consciousness style and reactions to the devastating effects of WWI and WWII. Authors include James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, Dylan Thomas, George Orwell, William Butler Yeats, Bernard Shaw,
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Timeline
    Describe British Literary Movements

    Complete after opening discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Timeline
    Identify British Literary Movements

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Illustrate British Literary Movements

    Complete after class reading or discussion.

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Character Map (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Character Map to illustrate an author from one or more of the British literary movements.

  • Extension / Modification
    Graphic Novel (Extension / Modification)

    Create a Graphic Novel for a book, including details that illustrate the book's British literary movement.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Discuss the following:

  • What is your favorite piece of British Literature and in what British literary movement was it created?
  • Choose one book from every British literary movement. What books do you like the most and why?
  • What was the historical context for each British literary movement? Why were specific styles and themes common during each time period?
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Pixton Activity: British Literary Movements 1 Describe British Literary Movements

Featured Layouts

  • Timeline

Intro

Review the 7 British literary movements from the opening discussion:

  1. Old-English / Anglo-Saxon (449 - 1066)
  2. Middle English / Medieval (1066 - 1485)
  3. The Renaissance (1485 - 1660)
  4. Neoclassical (1660 - 1798)
  5. Romantic (1798 - 1832)
  6. Victorian (1832 - 1901)
  7. Modern (1901 - Present)

Instructions

Create a Timeline that summarizes the 7 British literary movements:

  • Identify the movement in the panel title.
  • Write a detailed description of the movement.
    • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Timeline

British Literary Movements by Student
Old English (449 - 1066)Also known as Anglo Saxon. Characterized by oral tradition and poetry with use of caesura, alliteration, repetition and four-beat rhyme. Works are written in Old English. Content includes strong themes of religion, moral instruction and fate, admiration of heroic warriors in battle, and contrasting images of Pagan versus Christian life.
Middle English (1066 - 1485)Also known as Medieval. Characterized by oral tradition, folk ballads, mystery and miracle plays, morality plays, tock epithets, kennings, frame stories, and moral tales. Works are written in Middle English. Content includes Christian morality, religious devotion and chivalric code of honor, in order to teach the illiterate masses about Christianity.
Renaissance (1485 - 1660)Poetry, sonnet, metaphysical poetry, elaborate metaphors, and dramatic tragedies, comedies and histories. Focus on human life on earth as opposed to religion, human potential and different types of love - including unrequited, constant, timeless and courtly love.
Neoclassical (1660 - 1798)Characterized by satire, poetry, essays, letters, diaries, biographies and novels. Content includes an emphasis on the individual, reason, logic, harmony, stability and wisdom. Themes promote a belief that humanity is inherently evil and the world is as it should be.
Romantic (1798 - 1832)Characterized by poetry and lyrical ballads. Content includes a belief that comfort and peace are found in nature and not man-made urbanized cities, human nature is good but society is evil, children are innocent victims of poverty and exploitation, and human knowledge is simply an impression formed in an individual's mind. Works form a movement of protest against society and a desire for personal freedom.
Victorian (1832 - 1901)Novels (political, detective, serialized and bildungsroman), elegies, drama, magazine stories, and easy-to-understand poetry. Includes struggles between the villainous elite and the masses, urban poverty to advocate reform, country versus city life, unlikely coincidences, misdirected letters, a lack of discretion, romantic triangles, and heroines needing rescue from danger.
Modern (1901 - Present)Characterized by free verse poetry, epiphanies in literature, speeches, memoirs and novels. Content includes stream of consciousness style and reactions to the devastating effects of WWI and WWII.

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Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: British Literary Movements 2 Identify British Literary Movements

Featured Layouts

  • Timeline

Intro

Review the elements of each literary movement from the opening discussion:

  1. Old-English / Anglo-Saxon (449 - 1066)
    • Beowulf, The Venerable Bede, and Exeter Book.
  2. Middle English / Medieval (1066 - 1485)
    • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Domesday Book, L'Morte de Arthur and many tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.
  3. The Renaissance (1485 - 1660)
    • William Shakespeare, Thomas Wyatt, Ben Johnson, John Donne, Christopher Marlowe, Andre Marvell, Robert Herrick and Katherine Phillips.
  4. Neoclassical (1660 - 1798)
    • Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, John Locke, Samuel Johnson, John Bunyan and John Milton.
  5. Romantic (1798 - 1832)
    • Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Robert Burns, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats.
  6. Victorian (1832 - 1901)
    • Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, George Eliot, Oscar Wilde, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Darwin, Charlotte Bronte and Robert Browning.
  7. Modern (1901 - Present)
    • James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, T.S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, Dylan Thomas, George Orwell, William Butler Yeats, Bernard Shaw,

Instructions

Create a Timeline that illustrates at least 4 examples of the 7 British literary movements:

  • Identify the movement in the panel title.
  • Write a detailed description of one example of literature from each movement.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: British Literary Movements 3 Illustrate British Literary Movements

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

Review one of the 7 British literary movements from the opening discussion:

  1. Old-English / Anglo-Saxon (449 - 1066)
  2. Middle English / Medieval (1066 - 1485)
  3. The Renaissance (1485 - 1660)
  4. Neoclassical (1660 - 1798)
  5. Romantic (1798 - 1832)
  6. Victorian (1832 - 1901)
  7. Modern (1901 - Present)

Instructions

Create a Mind Map or Storyboard that summarizes the elements of one British Literary Movement for one work of literature discussed in class:

  • Identify the element in the panel title.
  • Write a detailed description of the element from the story.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

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