Presentation on theme: "The American Transcendental Movement. “A new philosophy has risen maintaining that nothing is everything in general, and everything is nothing in particular”"— Presentation transcript:
“A new philosophy has risen maintaining that nothing is everything in general, and everything is nothing in particular” --minister from Baltimore “Whatever is unintelligible is most certainly Transcendental” --Charles Dickens “It is easy to write like a Transcendentalist, just use small words and turn them upside down” --Edgar Allan Poe
Transcendentalism: The belief that in order to determine the ultimate meaning of God, the universe, self, or other important matters, one must transcend, or go beyond, everyday human experiences in the physical world.
History of Romanticism (1800-1830) A number of changing attitudes related to the growing sense of the cosmopolitanism of American society
The romantics’ emphasis on the individual reflects the political ideal set forth in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.” Lead to a new focus on the dignity and worth of the common individual and that human beings, despite their different ethnic backgrounds, belong to a single community based on a shared morality.
Romantic Literature and Attitudes: Romantics were mostly interested in the expression of their own intuitive experiences. A rebuttal of the emphasis placed on reason and logic that grew out of the Enlightenment
Many of the Romantics were involved in social reform, especially anti-slavery (Thoreau) and the rights of women (Margaret Fuller). Thus, those institutions of society which fostered vast differences in the ability to be educated and self- directed were institutions to be reformed. Women and African-descended slaves were human beings who deserved the ability to become educated, to fulfill their human potential, and to be fully human
Subjects characteristic of Romantic attitudes: NATURE THE PAST THE INNER WORLD OF HUMAN NATURE CHILDHOOD AND INNOCENCE
Subjects characteristic of Romantic attitudes: NATURE: Romantics emphasized the beauty, strangeness, and the mystery of nature. As opposed to the rational laws of the realists/rationalists They saw nature not as a machine, but as an organic process, constantly developing and changing. They placed emphasis on the organic connection between the human imagination and the natural world. Nature is a reflection of the soul and the Divine presence that is a part of all men
Subjects characteristic of Romantic attitudes: THE PAST: The rise of nationalism brought with it a new interest in the American past. American literature gradually developed a sense of a national past and of an emerging national character. Combined elements of both early Puritan thought and the ideas of Thomas Jefferson
Subjects characteristic of Romantic attitudes: THE INNER WORLD OF HUMAN NATURE and CHILDHOOD: Romantics emphasized the emotions, intuition, and the individual and thus encouraged the exploration and the expression of the writer’s most private inner being. Romantic writers became interested in the irrational depths of human nature. Experience brings about a loss of innocence
The American Romantic writers had found in Romanticism a new way of expressing their experiences as Americans. In this process, they expressed the nationalistic spirit of the age and created a truly significant national literature.
Significant Romantic Writers The Transcendentalists: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Walt Whitman (1819-1892) The Poets: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807- 1882) James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) Dark Romantics/Anti-Transcendentalists: Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) Herman Melville (1819-1891) Edgar Allan Poe (1809- 1849)
Characteristics of Transcendentalists: They had a sense of intense individualism and self- reliance They believed in the unity of God and the world They felt the real truths lay outside the experience of the senses, residing instead in the “over-soul—a universal benign omnipresence... A God known to men only in moments of mystic enthusiasm, whose visitations leave them altered, self-reliant and purified of petty aims.”
Characteristics of Transcendentalists: They revered nature and its relationship to humanity. They had a philosophy of individualism, simplicity, and passive resistance to injustice. Many maintained a positive, optimistic, or rosy view of life. They focused their attention on the human spirit.