Presentation on theme: "The Transcendentalists "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds...A nation of men will for the first."— Presentation transcript:
The Transcendentalists "We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds...A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who were they? A group of radical thinkers in the early to mid-1800s. Based primarily out of New England Began as a religious movement which questioned the absolute truth of the bible and maintained that spiritual enlightenment could be found within through the process of rational thought Questioned the established ideas about religion and society Writing focused on morality, philosophy, and social change (slavery, women's rights, war) Strong connections to nature
Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 Founder of the Transcendentalist movement Born in Boston, Massachusetts His father was a pastor and Ralph followed in his footsteps After the death of his wife, Emerson began to question church doctrine and eventually left the church
Emerson, continued After leaving the church, he began ‘preaching’ the ideas of Transcendentalism at lectures all over the country and writing essays about his philosophical beliefs Encouraged people to reject institutionalized religion and find their own spiritual path Also called for American authors to develop their own style rather than copy British writers. Often cited as the father of American literature Emerson and his ideas had a strong influence on a wide variety of authors including Thoreau, Whitman, Melville, Dickinson, and Hawthorne
Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 Born in Concord, Massachusetts and attended Harvard University Friends with Emerson and lived in his house for several years In 1845, Thoreau built a small cabin in the woods where he lived alone for several years in an attempt to remove himself from society It was here that he wrote the bulk of Walden and Civil Disobedience
Thoreau, continued In 1846, Thoreau was arrested for refusing to pay taxes He refused to pay because he disagreed with the government’s support of slavery and the Mexican-American War He was willing to stay in jail to demonstrate his commitment, but his aunt paid the fine and he was released against his will Died of tuberculosis in 1862 Walden inspired the environmental movement and Civil Disobedience would later have a profound impact on such leaders as Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, and J.F.K.
Themes Nature: truth and beauty can be found in nature Nonconformity: individual thought preferable to blind obedience Inborn wisdom: we are born with knowledge and truth in our souls, we can uncover it through the process of rational thought Social change: anti-war, anti-slavery, anti- materialism, women’s rights