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Period piece

Period piece

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In the performing arts
Performing arts
The performing arts are those forms art which differ from the plastic arts insofar as the former uses the artist's own body, face, and presence as a medium, and the latter uses materials such as clay, metal or paint which can be molded or transformed to create some physical art object...

, a period piece is a work set in a particular era. This informal term covers all countries, all periods and all genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

s. It may be as long and general as the medieval era
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 or as limited as one decade—the Roaring Twenties
Roaring Twenties
The Roaring Twenties is a phrase used to describe the 1920s, principally in North America, but also in London, Berlin and Paris for a period of sustained economic prosperity. The phrase was meant to emphasize the period's social, artistic, and cultural dynamism...

, for example.

Work from the past

Period piece can also describe a work that was famous in a past era but less so today: for example, one might describe a production of a drama by one of Shakespeare's contemporaries as "an interesting period piece" but would be less likely to describe a production of Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

 as such. Period piece is contrasted with "classic piece
The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. The word can be an adjective or a noun . It denotes a particular quality in art, architecture, literature and other cultural artifacts...

", or something with timeless or lasting broad readership.

Recent work

Period piece can also be used subjective
Subjectivity refers to the subject and his or her perspective, feelings, beliefs, and desires. In philosophy, the term is usually contrasted with objectivity.-Qualia:...

ly, such as when applied to contemporary or recent works which have not been tested by time, since it is guessing how future generations will view the work. For example Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom is an American writer and literary critic, and is Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale University. He is known for his defense of 19th-century Romantic poets, his unique and controversial theories of poetic influence, and his prodigious literary output, particularly for a literary...

 in The Western Canon (1994) labels those works not included in his list of 20th century literature as being mostly "period pieces" (see Appendix header for "The Chaotic Age"). Since these works are still being widely read (Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

for example), it is impossible to know if they will become regarded as classics in the future or simply fade away into mostly unread period pieces.

See also

  • List of costume drama films
  • Historical drama
  • Sword-and-sandal
  • Jidaigeki
    is a genre of film, television, and theatre in Japan. The name means "period drama" and is usually the Edo period of Japanese history, from 1603 to 1868. Some, however, are set much earlier—Portrait of Hell, for example, is set during the late Heian period—and the early Meiji era is also a popular...

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