Some of the major movements or time periods of German literature are:

  • High and late Middle Ages
  • Humanism and Reformation
  • Baroque
  • Enlightenment
  • Sturm und Drang
  • Classicism
  • Romanticism
  • Biedermeier
  • Junges Deutschland
  • Poetic realism
  • Naturalism
  • Fin de siècle
  • German literature of the Classical Moderne (German: Klassische Moderne)
  • Exile literature
  • Holocaust and survivor literature
  • German literature after World War II

For well-known authors who wrote or write literature in the German language see list of German language authors and list of German language poets.