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The American Romantic Renaissance. Basic Facts of Romanticism Broadly speaking, the era of the Romantic Renaissance in American literature is 1800-1870.

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Presentation on theme: "The American Romantic Renaissance. Basic Facts of Romanticism Broadly speaking, the era of the Romantic Renaissance in American literature is 1800-1870."— Presentation transcript:

1 The American Romantic Renaissance

2 Basic Facts of Romanticism Broadly speaking, the era of the Romantic Renaissance in American literature is But within the years , some of our most spectacular literature was born: Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Moby Dick, Scarlet Letter, Walden, Leaves of Grass, The Raven, etc etc. Why so many good things at once? – Lofty ideas of democracy, more independence as humans, rising tensions about equality, more rising tensions about materialism and wealth, dry religion of the Age of Reason needed some infusion of emotion, conflict btw science and religion, revolt against established rules

3 Overall Characteristics of Romanticism (this isn’t just an American thing!) Imagination: Imagination is the primary faculty for creating all art. On a broader scale, it is also the faculty that helps humans to constitute reality, for (as Wordsworth suggested), we not only perceive the world around us, but also in part create it. (whoa, I just went all Matrix on you…) – Gateway to the sublime, the grotesque, the picturesque, and the beautiful with a touch of strangeness (no more classical order/beauty here!) – Gateway to old mythology (Norse, Celtic, etc)

4 Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare

5 Overall Characteristics of Romanticism (this isn’t just an American thing!) Nature: a place of retreat, a return to the wilderness (Romantics believed that it was society that corrupted man’s natural goodness…Rousseau's “noble savage”), a source of imagination Emotion: no more reason/logic here! – Wordsworth defined good poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings“

6 Church by Rio de Luz

7 “The Savage State” by Thomas Cole

8 Overall Characteristics of Romanticism (this isn’t just an American thing!) Focus on the individual: individual man is to be celebrated, not the society as a whole Romantic hero: a genius/exceptional figure, but plagued by doubt and struggle. The Romantic hero’s journey is more about his internal struggle than his triumph in action. – The common man IS this gifted/exceptional figure….

9 The American Romantic Influenced by… – Frontier promised opportunity for expansion, growth, and freedom. Europe lacked this element. – A spirit of optimism invoked by the promise of an uncharted frontier. – Immigration brought new cultures and perspectives. – Growth of industry in the north that further polarized the north and the agrarian south. – Search for new spiritual roots.

10 Kindred Spirits, Asher Brown Durand, (1853)

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12 Emigrants Crossing the Plains by Alfred Bierstadt

13 A View of the Mountain Pass Called the Notch of the White Mountains (Crawford Notch) by Thomas Cole

14 The American Romantic Focus on the individual  emphasis on freedom/ democracy of the individual Focus on the individual  spoke out, in some degree, against slavery Nature  Americans were more in tune with nature than their European counterpoints. They both gloried in the wilderness of it and lamented the loss of its wilderness to society (“Manifest Destiny” has begun its trek across the nation!) Overflow of Emotion  Creation of distinctly American voice/ emotion Imagination  Creation of the past/history for America Interest in the Antique  Interest in creating a past for the Americans through imagined myth

15 Big Names...Huge!! Washington Irving Emerson Thoreau Emily Dickinson Edgar Allan Poe Nathanial Hawthorne Walt Whitman Herman Melville James Fenimore Cooper Louisa May Alcott


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