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Presentation on theme: "Transcendentalism."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transcendentalism

2 Complete the Transcendentalism Preview Handout

3 What does “transcendentalism” mean?
Belief in a higher kind of knowledge than can be achieved by human reason A loose collection of eclectic ideas about literature, philosophy, religion, social reform, and the general state of American culture. Transcendentalism had different meanings for each person involved in the movement.

4 -Web of American Transcendentalism.
“From , literature in America experienced a rebirth called the New England Renaissance. Through their poetry, short stories, novels, and other works, writers during this period established a clear American voice. No longer did they see their work as less influential than that of European authors. Transcendentalism was a part of this “flowering” of American literature. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were important voices in this philosophical movement that sought to have individuals “transcend” to a higher spiritual level. To achieve this goal, the individual had to seek spiritual, not material, greatness and the essential truths of life through intuition. Emerson was the philosopher and teacher. Thoreau was the student and the practitioner.” -Web of American Transcendentalism.


6 Basic Premise #1 OVERSOUL Man, universe and nature are intertwined.
All three share the same soul. A universal spirit to which all things return after death Proposed by Emerson

7 Basic Premise #2 OPTIMISTIC All is good Evil is an illusion

8 Basic Premise #3 INDIVIDUALISM Non-conformity Free thought
Self-reliance Be true to one’s own inner perception or intuition Unlimited potential of each individual (confidence)

9 Basic Premise #4 NATURE IS TRUTH.
It can be a guide to higher understanding. Symbolizes God or the inner life of human beings

10 Who were the Transcendentalists?
Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau Amos Bronson Alcott Margaret Fuller Ellery Channing

11 Where did it come from? Ralph Waldo Emerson gave German philosopher Immanuel Kant credit for popularizing the term “transcendentalism.” (1700s) It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian church (encourages people to find their own spirituality) It is not a religion—more accurately, it is a philosophy or form of spirituality. It centered around Boston and Concord, MA. in the mid-1800’s. Emerson first expressed his philosophy of transcendentalism in his essay Nature.

12 Who was Immanuel Kant? Russian philosopher influential in Germany
Believed everything is acquired through experience but reason plays a major role

13 Development in the US Emerson and the Transcendentalists led the search for truth In nature Through self-reliance Transcendentalism began with a few and grew This philosophy lasted for several years in New England Ended as the Civil War began

14 Roots of Transcendentalism
Puritanism Belief in God as a powerful force Belief that each individual can experience God first-hand Romanticism Placed central importance on emotions and the individual Emphasized intuition and inner perception of truth that differs from reason Emphasized nature’s beauty, strangeness, and mystery Emphasized individual expression and artistic freedom

15 Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian minister- resigned after 3 years Poet and essayist Founded the Transcendental Club Popular lecturer Banned from Harvard for 40 years following his Divinity School address Supporter of abolitionism Wrote Nature and Self-Reliance

16 Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 Schoolteacher, essayist, poet
Most famous for Walden and Civil Disobedience Influenced environmental movement Supporter of abolitionism

17 Amos Bronson Alcott 1799-1888 Teacher and writer
Founder of Temple School and Fruitlands Introduced art, music, P.E., nature study, and field trips; banished corporal punishment Father of novelist Louisa May Alcott

18 Margaret Fuller 1810-1850 Journalist, critic, women’s rights activist
First editor of The Dial, a transcendental journal First female journalist to work on a major newspaper—The New York Tribune Taught at Alcott’s Temple School

19 Ellery Channing 1818-1901 Poet and especially close friend of Thoreau
Published the first biography of Thoreau in 1873—Thoreau, The Poet-Naturalist

20 Review Non-Conformity Self-Reliance Free Thought Confidence
Importance of Nature

21 Read Emerson Biography p. 388 Nature- p. 390
Answer Questions

22 Read Self Reliance p. 393 Answer Questions

23 Resources American Transcendental Web: American Transcendentalism: PAL: Chapter Four

24 Complete the Simplify, Simplify, Simplify handout

25 Pathway around WALDEN POND in Concord, MA

26 Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond


28 Who was Henry David Thoreau?
Read p. 404 Read Walden p. 407

29 Michael Scott: Survivor Man
What did Michael Scott hope to achieve by going out to the wilderness? How does this compare to Thoreau’s choice to live on Walden Pond and his motivation?

30 Walden “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them…” (Thoreau 412). “Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises?

31 What is civil disobedience?
The deliberate and public refusal to obey laws that violate one’s personal principles Thoreau believed the government was an impediment to the productivity and achievements of the American people Do you agree? How can you have your voices heard in government?

32 Read Thoreau’s excerpt from Civil Disobedience


How does the following clip compare to Thoreau’s claims about government?


36 After Reading What is Thoreau’s claim, warrant and impact?
What motto does Thoreau accept? How would he like to see that motto implemented? How does Thoreau define the best possible kind of government?

37 Reflect on PROTEST lesson
Where have we seen examples of protest in the past quarter? Do you believe Thoreau’s “protest” is valid and impactful?

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