AMERICAN ROMANTICISM Early 1800s to 1865 We will walk with our own feet. We will work with our own hands. We will speak our own minds -Ralph Waldo Emerson Before we look at what Romanticism IS, we have to think about what it IS NOT! Despite the name of the literary period, Romanticism does not deal with sappy
love stories. THIS IS NOT THE KIND OF LITERATURE THAT WE ARE GOING TO STUDY! So what IS Romanticism? Romanticism is the name for the literary period that followed the Age of Reason (The Revolutionary Period) in America. Due to the fact that the country was now
established, writers moved their focus away from political matters and revolutionary governmental ideas, and began to focus on other aspects of life (emotions, possibilities, imagination etc) Characteristics of American Romanticism
Values feeling and intuition over reason Places faith in inner experience and the power of the imagination Shuns the artificiality of civilization and seeks unspoiled nature
Prefers youthful innocence to educated sophistication Champions individual freedom and the worth of the individual Contemplates natures beauty as a path to spiritual
and moral development Characteristics (continued) Looks backward to the wisdom of the past and distrusts progress Finds beauty and truth in exotic locals, the supernatural realm, and the inner world of the imagination A sample of American Romantic art- note the wild
landscape, no hint of civilization and ominous clouds. Types of literature prevalent in Romanticism Short stories Novels Poetry Essays
Elements of Romanticism Frontier: vast expanse, freedom, no geographic limitations. Optimism: greater than in Europe because of the presence of frontier.
Experimentation: in science, in institutions. Mingling of races: immigrants in large numbers arrive to the US. Growth of industrialization: polarization of north and south; north becomes industrialized, south remains agricultural. Romantic Subject Matter
The quest for beauty and does not tell people how to live their lives Escapism - from American problems. The use of the far-away and non-normal Interest in external nature - for itself, for beauty: Nature as source for the knowledge of the primitive. Nature as refuge. Nature as revelation of God to the individual. Romantic Techniques
Remoteness of settings in time and space. Improbable plots. Inadequate or unlikely characterization. Socially "harmful morality;" a world of "lies." Organic principle in writing: form rises out of content, non-formal.
Representative writers William Cullen Bryant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow DARK ROMANTICS Nathaniel Hawthorne Herman Melville
Edgar Allan Poe BIG PICTURE. Romantic VIEW OF MAN: Focus on the individual and his inner world (imagination and emotions). BIG PICTURE Romantic VIEW OF NATURE: Nature is beautiful, mysterious, and symbolic. God can be seen in nature.
BIG PICTURE Romantic GUIDE TO TRUTH: Intuition (inner voice or gut feeling) and imagination guides each individual to understanding. Dark Romanticism or American Gothic
Edgar Allen Poe with Hawthorne and Melville known as anti-Transcendentalists or Dark Romantics Had much in common with Transcendentalists Explored conflicts between good and evil, psychological effects of guilt and sin, and madness Dark Romanticists Herman Melville
Nathaniel Hawthorne Edgar Allan Poe TRANSCENDENTALISM An important American Literary and Philosophical Movement (though NOT a religion) 1830s to 1860s Transcend (v)
to go beyond a limit or range, for example, of thought or belief So, TRANSCENDENTALISM, at its core is about moving beyond common experience and understanding. Transcendentalism The idea that in determining the ultimate reality of God, the universe, the self, and other
important matters, one must transcend, or go beyond, everyday human experience in the physical world. Also based on Romantic ideas Based on
intuition; optimistic Premises of Transcendentalism There is a direct connection between the universe and the individual soul
By thinking about objects in nature, people can transcend the world and discover a union with the Over-Soul Follow your intuition and beliefs no matter how much they differ from the social norms All people are inherently good So who were a few Transcendentalists? Ralph Waldo Emerson (former Unitarian
minister from Massachusetts who became the most well known Transcendentalist.) Henry David Thoreau (his pupil, the son of pencil maker who dropped out of society to live a solitary and transcendent life). Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau Why did Transcendentalism
become popular? As with Romanticism, Americans felt that there must be more to life than logical, rational experience. The Transcendentalists sought to regain a spirituality that they thought was missing from current thought and philosophy. Transcendentalism With a partner answer the following questions. 1.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. How are you affected by nature? Do you find comfort in it? Do you reflect the moods of nature? What is the role of nature in your life? What is meant by an individuals spiritual side?
How do you define it? What is the connection between the individuals spirit and nature? What does it mean to know something intuitively? How do you demonstrate that you are an individual? Do you think independently of others or do you follow the crowd?
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