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American Transcendentalism & Ralph Waldo Emerson+Henry David Thoreau

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Presentation on theme: "American Transcendentalism & Ralph Waldo Emerson+Henry David Thoreau"— Presentation transcript:

1 American Transcendentalism & Ralph Waldo Emerson+Henry David Thoreau

2 What is Transcendentalism
Idealistic philosophy, spiritual position,and literary movement that advocates reliance on romantic intuition and moral human conscience Belief that humans can intuitively transcend the limits of the senses and of logic to a plane of “high truths” Value spirituality,divinity of humanity, nature, intellectual pursuit, social justice Roughly 1830s-1850s

3 Where did it come from? Ralph Waldo Emerson gave German philosopher Immanuel Kant credit of popularizing the term “transcendentalism” It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian church It is a philosophy 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.

4 Beliefs of Transcendentalism
The intuitive faculty, instead of the rational or sensical, became the means for a conscious union of the individual psyche with the world psyche also known as the Oversoul, life-force, prime mover and G-d (known in Sanskrit as Brahma)

5 Transcendentalism as Spiritual Revival
Ironic refiguring of Puritanism without the theological dogma Transcendentalists lonely explorers (pilgrims)outside society and convention Trying to form new society based on metaphysical awareness Trying to purify society by purifying hearts and minds Nature is spiritual manifesto.

6 Major Transcendentalists
Ralph Waldo Emerson——father of American transcendentalism Henry David Thoreau——famous practical transcendentalist

7 Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 Unitarian minister Poet and essayist
Founded the Transcendental Club Popular lecturer Banned from Harvard for 40 years following his Divinity School address Supporter of abolitionism

8 Emerson’s Major Works Nature 1836——Emerson’s most original and significant work, offering the essence of his philosophy of American Transcendentalism The American Scholar 1837——America;s literary declaration of independence The Divinity School Address 1838 Essays: First Series 1841 Essays: Second Series 1844 Contain some of his most Profound statements of transcendentalism

9 Emerson’s Major Works 6) Representative Men 1850
7) English Traits 1856 8) The Conduct of Life 1860 9) May-Day and Other Pieces 1867

10 Nature Most of his major ideas: the need for a new national vision, the use of personal Experience, the notion of the cosmic Over-Soul, and the doctrine of compensation——are suggested in his first publication: Nature (1836)

11 Emerson’s Influence A great prose-poet, Emerson influenced a long line of American poets, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Edwin Arlington Robinson,Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, and Robert Frost. He is also credited with influencing the philosophies of John Dewey, George Santayana, Friedrich Nietzsche, and William James.

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

13 Thoreau’s Major Literary Work
Civil Disobedience A Plea for John Brown A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers A record of a canoe excursion, giving observant Comments on nature, man, society and literature

14 Thoreau’s Major Literary Works
Walden——regard as a classic American book that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions. A reproduction of Thoreau’s cabin with a statue of Thoreau.

15 Walden 1854 Moved to a cabin on Walden Pond, on July, 1845; lived there for 2 years It is A collection of nature essays A book about man, what he is, And what he should be and must Be Full of ideas expressed to persuade His neighbors out of their complacency

16 Thoreau’s Point of View
Didn’t like the way a materialistic America was developing and was strongly outspoken on this point Hated the human injustice as represented by the slavery system Saw nature as a genuine restorative, healthy influence on man’s spiritual well-being

17 Thoreau’s Point of View
Had faith in the inner virtue and inward, spiritual grace of man Was very critical of modern civilization He was impatient with his fellowmen Who did not want to spend so little time on self-improvement Had trust in the future

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