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Defining Genre


Historical fiction presents realistic characters and events within a historical setting.  As fiction ages but retain's popular appeal, it can move from contemporary fiction to the historical fiction genre.

Historical fiction may both be written and set within time. This along with place setting, determines the attitudes and events that will impact the story. 

Historical settings (examples) Literary Periods (examples) Literary Movements (examples)


Victorian England

Western (US)

Age of Sail

World War II

British Imperialism






Post Modern





Harlem Renaissance



More and more, authors are using literature to draw attention to little known historical events.  Great examples include the works of author ,Ruta Septys:

  • Salt to the Sea (German retreat from Soviet forces during World War II)
  • Between Shade of Gray (imprisonment in the Soviet gulags)
  • Fountains of Silence (resistance of the Franco dictatorship in Spain)

Other historic events remain popular topics of literature, largely because of their impact on society. Some of the topic in our collection addressed by a number of titles include:

  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • The Immigrant Experience
  • The Jewish Holocaust
  • American Slavery
  • Native American Perspective
  • The Civil War
  • The Japanese Internment


America's romance with the American West has waned in the last 20 years, at least when it comes to young adult. To many problematic themes:  the lone rider, the womanizer, racist tropes, etc.  But the western may be making a comeback.  You'll recognize some of the old themes -- rugged, sometimes desolate landscapes, individuals seeking justice in a vast and largely lawless land--but the books are more exclusive.  Expect more diversity and strong women to roam these plains.

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Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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