From Medieval to Postmodern, there have been many authors that can be divided into literary movements based on popular culture, scientific innovations, and political events. Using a standard timeline and colors for each movement, this infographic goes in to the major literary movements, but not into the causes of these movements.
Looking back on my own education, I do not seem to recall talking about the reason behind the Enlightenment or Realism. What was one of, if not the, most important innovation in our history? The printing press. It took literature and knowledge from our mouths to paper faster, and allowed more people to have access to the written word. Before this people, often monks, had to handwrite every word of a book, and so only the most wealthy could own books to be read and referenced. After this books could be produced faster and faster and cheaper and cheaper allowing anyone to have access to the best kept secrets, power and knowledge.
How did this, and other seemingly unrelated events, influence these movements? From social upheaval to peaceful passing of crowns, everything has influenced literature. In order to understand these movements more fully, have your students explore the background of them.