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For the film by Giuseppe Andrews, see Period Piece (film).

"Period piece" is a phrase that is used to describe creative works.

Contents

Usage

Setting

In the performing arts, a period piece is a work set in a particular era. This informal term covers all countries, all periods and all genres. It may be as long and general as the medieval era or as limited as one decade—the Roaring Twenties, for example. Most commonly seen in film. A period piece movie is also referred to as a costume drama.

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 as such. Period piece is contrasted with "classic piece", or something with timeless or lasting broad readership.

Recent work

Period piece can also be used subjectively, 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 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 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

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