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Imagination and the Individual

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Presentation on theme: "Imagination and the Individual"— Presentation transcript:

1 1800-1860 Imagination and the Individual
American Romanticism Imagination and the Individual

2 Characteristics of American Romanticism
Values feeling and intuition over reason Places faith in inner experience and power of imagination Shuns artificiality of civilization Seeks unspoiled nature Prefers youthful innocence to educated sophistication

3 Cropsey: Autumn on the Hudson River
Romanticism exalted individualism, subjectivism, irrationalism, imagination, emotions and nature

4 More Characteristics Champions individual freedom and worth of individual Nature’s beauty as path to spiritual and moral development Distrusts progress Finds beauty and truth in exotic locales, the supernatural realm and the imagination Poetry as highest expression of imagination

5 Emigrants Crossing the Plains –Albert Bierstadt
In your notebooks, briefly discuss how this painting illustrates the Romantic view of nature.

6 Conditions that influenced American Romanticism:
Frontier promised opportunity for expansion, growth, freedom Spirit of optimism invoked by the promise of an uncharted frontier. Immigration = new cultures and perspectives Industry in the north further polarized the north and the agrarian south. Search for new spiritual roots.

7 The American Landscape: wild, free and natural

8 Literary Themes Highly imaginative and subjective Emotional intensity
Escapism Common man as hero Nature as refuge, source of knowledge and/or spirituality

9 The American Romantic Hero
Young or youthful qualities Sense of honor based not on society’s rules but some higher principle Knowledge based on deep, intuitive understanding, not on formal learning Loves nature and avoids town life Quests fro some higher truth in the natural world **by modern standards uneasy with women and the “domestic” force

10 Fireside Poets First American poets to be really popular
Literary conservatism Focused on American landscapes but used European styles Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.,[2]

11 From Thanatopsis -William Cullen Bryant
To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she speaks A various language; for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile And eloquence of beauty, and she glides Into his darker musings, with a mild And gentle sympathy, that steals away Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow house, Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;-- Go forth under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings, while from all around-- Earth and her waters, and the depths of air,-- Comes a still voice-- -In your notebook, respond to the following questions: How does this poem illustrate the themes of American Romanticism? At the start of this poem, nature is personified. How does Nature speak to us in our “gayer hours” and our “darker musings”?

12 Transcendentalists: True Reality is Spiritual
Led by Ralph Waldo Emerson Everything, including humans is a reflection of the Divine Soul Physical facts of the natural world are a doorway to spiritual or “ideal” world

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