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Early American Literature The Age of Reason.   Timeline overview of American Literary Movements  Early American Literature overview and timeline 

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Presentation on theme: "Early American Literature The Age of Reason.   Timeline overview of American Literary Movements  Early American Literature overview and timeline "— Presentation transcript:

1 Early American Literature The Age of Reason

2   Timeline overview of American Literary Movements  Early American Literature overview and timeline  Emphasis on The Age of Reason, beginning with the historic context of the Enlightenment.  Writing style, major themes, methods of interpretation and author’s intent of Enlightenment works  Notable writers of the Enlightenment and their works Outcomes of the lesson

3   The name Age of Reason suggests what about the previous age?  Compare and contrast how the Age of Reason Literature may differ or expand upon the literature of the Puritan era. Prior Knowledge Inquiry

4  Point of View Inquiry Knowing that Thomas Paine wrote Common Sense to draw criticism to the means and ends of the British empire within the colonies, what do you think his intentions were with his other book, The Age of Reason: Being An Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology ? How do you think Paine’s perspective on religion and religious writings relates and differs to that of the Puritan?

5  This work was published in three-parts in 1794, 1795 and 1807. It challenged institutionalized religion and the legitimacy of the Bible as a revealed or divinely inspired text. It was a foundational piece of deistic thought, which was based on reason and experience. Deism promoted observation of the natural world and argued for the existence of a God of Creation, rather than a God of absolute authority. Point of View Inquiry Age of Reason by Thomas Paine, published in 1794, 1795, and 1807.

6  1600 - 17501750 - 18001800 - 18401840 - 18551865 - 1915 1916 - 19461946 - Present Literary Movements Puritan Era Age of Reason Romanticism Transcendentalism Realism Modernism Contemporary and Post- Modernism

7  1600-17501750-18001800-18401840-1855 Early American Literature Puritan Era Age of Reason/ Enlightenment Transcendentalism Romanticism

8  Age of Reason Literature 1600 – 1800 in Europe 1770s – 1800 in America

9  Age of Reason Timeline 1550-16001600-16501650-17001700-17501750-1800 Montes quieu (1689- 1755) “separat ion of powers” (above) Francis Bacon (1561-1626) scientific method Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Constitutional Conventions Thomas Paine (1737-1809) Common Sense Patrick Henry (1736-1799) “Give me liberty, or give me death.” John Locke (1632-1704) “unalienable rights” Rousseau “democratic rule” 1712-1778 Voltaire (1694-1727) used satire to insult the state (above) Rene Descartes (1596- 1650) Father of Rationalism Isaac Newton (1642-1727) empirical research

10  Historic Enlightenment Timeline Why was the Age of Reason Sparked Now? Many innovations, in the areas of science and technology, along with theories of government and economics, led people to question whether man should be free to determine his own destiny, rather than an authority such as a king or a church.

11  american-enlightenment-intellectual-and-social- revolution.html History of the American Enlightenment Historic Context of the American Enlightenment

12   The Age of Reason era, is the body of literature given birth through the Enlightenment. Therefore, this movement goes by both names, The Age of Reason, or The Enlightenment literature.  The Age of Reason emphasized reason and logic over religious and political orders that reinstated hierarchy and authoritarianism, without question or criticism.  The Age of Reason encouraged new ideas, and demanded questioning and criticism from the common people. Introduction to the Age of Reason

13   The Age of Enlightenment (or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals beginning in the late 17th and 18th century Europe emphasizing reason and individualism rather than tradition. Its purpose was to reform society using reason, and thus, challenge ideas grounded in tradition, faith and superstition. It advanced knowledge through the scientific method, promoted scientific thought, skepticism, intellectual interchange, and logical argument. It opposed superstition and intolerance, and the Catholic church was a favorite target of its criticism. The ideas of the Enlightenment have had a long-term and major impact on the culture, politics, and governments of the Western world. The Age of Reason principles were applied to the political birth of the United States of America. American Enlightenment

14   The Age of Reason was a confluence of ideas and activities throughout the 18 th century in Western Europe, England and the American colonies.  Scientific rationalism exemplified by the scientific method, was the hallmark of Enlightenment thought.  Industrial developments providing a better quality of life, and philosophic insights insisting on the dignity and equality of all people were primary precepts.  The Church was widely criticized for stymieing the forward march of reason, and for acting beyond its earthly bound authority.  For the first time in written history, political and religious leadership was weakened enough for citizens to voice their true concerns.  Criticism of institutional fallacies and abuses became the focus of the agenda, and argument was the new mode of conversation and writing. Historical Context of the Age of Reason

15   Humans are born without sin. They are a “blank slate.” Theory of mind theories demonstrate human development. This opposed the Puritan concept of “depravity.”  It is possible to change and improve situations of birth, economy, society, and religion. We are not placed in a static history, our knowledge is not banked.  Church should not control government or speak beyond its authority.  Individual property rights for some. Age of Reason – Commonly Held Beliefs

16   Inquiry and ideas about all aspects of the world.  Interests in classics and ancient text, including the Bible.  Interest in empirical science and scientific experimentation  Emphasis in optimism and positivity – experiments with utopian communities  Individualism and a personal sense of duty to succeed and self-actualize  Individualism and personal religion (deism), personal interpretations of religious text (like the Bible). Themes and questions pursued by the writers:

17   John Locke (1632-1704) was a British philosopher and physician, regarded as one of the first empirical thinkers. He developed a “ theory of mind ” supporting that humans develop knowledge through sensory experience. He contributed the concept that people are born with “unalienable” or natural rights to the United States Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. John Locke Enlightenment Founder

18   Montesquieu (1689-1755) was a French social and political philosopher who articulated the theory of separation of powers regarding government structure. His conceptual framework has been implemented into many constitutions, including the United States of America. Charles-Louis Montesquieu Enlightenment Founder

19   The primary scientific progenitors of the Enlightenment are Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton.  Bacon composed philosophic treaties which became the basis of the scientific method (applying both deductive and inductive reasoning).  Newton was a scientist who applied observation and testing to determine the solid application of his theories. He was an empirical thinker who collected data through his sensory perception. Great Enlightenment Thinkers

20   In Europe, the Enlightenment had a philosophical, scientific and political affect.  Whereas in the Americas, the Enlightenment ideas and writings were primary manifest in a political nature.  American intellectuals such as Thomas Paine, and Patrick Henry (taking heed from Locke and Montesquieu), considered the possibility that freedom and democracy were fundamental rights of all people, rather than gifts conferred by hierarchical monarchs or popes. European and American Enlightenment Influence

21   Egalitarianism: the fair and equal treatment of all people, became the emphasis of the day.  Citizens began to see themselves as equal to their political and religious leadership. And possibly subjected to the same level of criticism, if and when necessary. Egalitarianism

22   New ideas and innovation was encouraged to test the limitations of human capacity.  People believed they should elect their own representative government and consensual leadership was enacted.  Through collective intelligence and rationality the worlds major problems would have voice and be resolved.  Discussion, debate and argument as styles of logical thinking and decision making became tools for finding truthful precepts. Rhetoric!  Empiricism, or the reliance to observable, demonstrable facts through experience was elevated in public discourse. Enlightenment Ideals


24   The idea of a “public” or an informed collective of citizens invested in the common good and preservation of the society reached its pinnacle during the Enlightenment.  The “public” was still limited to middle class Anglo men. Women, minorities and the lower classes were not yet welcome into civil discourse. For the Common Good

25   European Enlightenment writers Jean- Jacques Rousseau and Voltaire were the torch-bearers of literature and philosophy.  Rousseau’s most significant work, Emile, argues for extensive liberal education as the means for nurturing good citizens, and it one of the first works recognizing the importance childhood development.  Voltaire used satire to criticize the oppressive authoritarianism of the church and state. European Enlightenment Thinkers

26   Benjamin Franklin – The Constitution of the United States of America  Thomas Paine – Common Sense  Patrick Henry – Speech in the Virginia Convention American Enlightenment Thinkers

27   Enlightenment thinking was realized in a unique way in the developing colonies, however the essential spirit of the enlightenment still resonated across the Atlantic, in the New World.  Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine, each in their own way, embedded rational thinking in the developing government, society and culture.  Enlightenment values led into the Revolutionary war - Individualism.  Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” provided an impassioned argument grounded in solid reason for the colonies to separate and seek independence from the British Crown. He coined the demand, “No Taxation without Representation.” American Enlightenment Thinkers

28   Franklin's indispensible contributions at the Constitutional Conventions – the writing of the United States Constitution – grounded the first civil documents in principles of rational thinking and observable facts. These principles would permeate and navigate throughout the development of the New World. American Enlightenment

29   “Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us.”  “Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.” Common Sense By Thomas Paine

30   Patrick Henry (May 29, 1736 – June 6, 1799) was an American attorney, farmer and politician who became known as an American orator during the movement for independence in Virginia in the late 1770s. He was a founding father and served as the sixth post-colonial Governor of Virginia from 1776 to 1770 and from 1784 to 1786. Patrick Henry Purpose of “Speech in the Virginia Convention ”

31   He is known for leading the opposition to the Stamp Act of 1765 and is remembered for his “Give me liberty, or give me death!” speech at the Virginia convention. Along with Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine, he is regarded as one of the most influential champions of Republicanism (democratic rule) and an invested promoters of the American Revolution. After the Revolution, Henry was a leader of the anti- federalists in Virginia, and worked for an adoption of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. Patrick Henry

32  Give me Liberty, Or Give Me Death! ~Patrick Henry “His speaking style was simple and he could appeal to both the elite and the common man. He wanted to unite the upper and lower classis in a bond against the British… and stir patriotic feel for the resistance movement” (Zinn, 68).

33  Evaluation Inquiry “The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions...” ~John Locke, The Second Treatise of Civil Government. 1690. This quote from of the great Enlightenment philosopher John Locke influenced the most prominent documents of the American Colonial era, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Judging from this quote, infer the major themes pronounced during the Age of Reason literary era (1770s - to early 1800s).

34  Summary

35   Dawn of classical liberalism – freedom from oppressive forces  Political revolutions in America and France (1789)  Scientific experimentation and innovation  Laissez-faire economics  Manifest Destiny and the open frontier  Deism - (religion) the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority of as a source of religious knowledge.  Growth in nationalism and materialism (consumerism) Movements of the 18 th Century

36  Science Francis Bacon (1561– 1626) – Inductive Method Deductive Method René Descartes (1596–1650) – Deductive Method Astronomy Johannes Kepler Galileo Galilee Physics Isaac Newton (1642–1727) Exploration Navigation technology Spread of culture and ideas Economics Free Markets Mercantilism Adam Smith

37  Philosophy Social Contract, Separation of Powers, Free Markets John Locke (1632– 1704) Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) Leviathan Thomas Paine 1776 “Common Sense” Deism Political Corruption France Starving peasants, corrupt monarchs England Protestant Reformation U.S. Colonies Colonists increasingly frustrated with British rule Corruption of Catholic Church

38  Seinfeld History Lesson Thomas Paine sense-and-the-crisis.html The Federalist Papers history-writers-summary.html Benjamin Franklin quotes-and-autobiography.html St. Jean de Crevecoeur letters-from-an-american-farmer.html Age of Reason links

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