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American Literature: 1840-1860 TRANSCENDENTALISM.

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Presentation on theme: "American Literature: 1840-1860 TRANSCENDENTALISM."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Literature: TRANSCENDENTALISM

2 American History Tension leading to Civil War Slavery Westward expansion— railroads, telegraph Mexican War (1848) Industrialization

3 American Mind-Set Increased roles of gov’t, increase in industrial productivity Technology and science will bring better times

4 Romanticism Nature is the key to self-awareness If you open yourself up to nature, you man receive its gifts: a deeper, more mystical experience of life Nature offers a kind of “grace” – “salvation” from mundane evils of everyday life.

5 Transcendentalism Belief that humans can intuitively transcend the limits of the senses and of logic to a plane of “higher truths”.

6 Valued spirituality (direct access to a benevolent God, not organized religion or ritual

7 Basic Principles of Transcendentalism 1) The fundamental truths of being and the universe lie beyond the senses and can only be understood through intuition.

8 2) The focus is on the human spirit and the spiritual relationship between humanity and nature.

9 3) Nature is a manifestation of the human spirit. The meaning of existence can be found through exploring nature.

10 4) All forms of being – God, nature, man – are spiritually united under a shared universal soul – the Over-Soul.

11 To Review…Transcendentalists… A deep faith in human potential Believed that all forms of being are spiritually united through a shared universal soul Popular themes in their writing include love and nature Known for their essays expressing their ideas and beliefs

12 Anti-transcendentalists Believed that the truths of human existence tend to be elusive and disturbing

13 Transcendentalism –Basic truths of the universe lie beyond the knowledge we obtain from the senses.

14 Transcendentalism –Use intuition to find existence of our own souls

15 Emphasize spiritual unity with all forms of being (humans, nature and God) Ability to experience God firsthand

16 The Oversoul Everything shares a universal soul (oversoul) Giant Eyeball in the sky

17 Study nature as means to self-knowledge

18 Who? Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau

19 Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau: Two Writers Who Changed America

20 Emerson and Thoreau Transcendentalists (the power of the imagination!!) Essay writers (non-fiction) Influence American culture self-reliance peaceful protest love of nature

21 Emerson and Thoreau encouraged us to… –Think for ourselves –Do our own thing –Protest injustices –Change unjust laws –Admire the natural beauty of our country

22 Emerson background Father of Transcendentalism Harvard educated-minister Moves away from religion His son dies at age 5 Writes essays

23 Emerson Your duty is to yourself FIRST, community/country second You need to be self-reliant…pick yourself up. Your imagination more powerful than a book

24 Henry David Thoreau Emerson’s friend, student Civil Disobedience Walden

25 Thoreau Lived what Emerson preached Social activist Two major works: –Civil Disobedience, Walden

26 Civil Disobedience Refuse to follow any rule that goes against your belief Do not get violent, get quiet Protest civilly…sit down, refuse to move

27 Civil Disobedience: influences Gandhi: Led a revolution against Great Britain without shooting a gun, or raising a fist. Martin Luther King, Jr. Led a revolution against racial discrimination without shooting a gun, raising a fist.

28 Walden

29 Thoreau our first naturalist! Emerson taught him to be self-reliant…he does this by going into the woods, building his own house and living for 2 years, 2 months, 2 weeks Writes about his experience in WALDEN Reminds us that nature is best teacher

30 Famous Quotes from Emerson and Thoreau…

31 “Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist” Self-Reliance

32 “Imitation is suicide”

33 “Trust thyself” Self-Reliance

34 “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think” Self-Reliance

35 “To be great is to be misunderstood” Self-Reliance

36 “Envy is Ignorance” Self-Reliance

37 Civil Disobedience “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

38 Civil Disobedience “Let you life be a counter-friction to stop the machine”

39 Civil Disobedience “A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight”

40 Walden “I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately…

41 to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…

42 and not, when I came to die, discover I had not lived.”

43 “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life”


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