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American Romanticism 1800 - 1860.

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Presentation on theme: "American Romanticism 1800 - 1860."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Romanticism

2 Background vocabulary
Rationalism – the belief that human beings can arrive at truth by using reason, rather than by relying on the authority of the past, on religious faith, or on intuition Romanticism – a revolt against rationalism that affected literature and the other arts, beginning in the late 18th Century and remaining strong throughout most of the 19th Century.

3 Background vocabulary
Transcendentalism – a 19th Century movement in the Romantic tradition, which held that every individual can reach ultimate truths through spiritual intuition, which transcends reason and sensory experience. Dark Romantics – a group of 19th Century writers who explored the dark side of human nature

4 Background notes The Rationalist worldview:
People arrive at truth by using reason rather than by relying on the authority of the past, on religion, or on non-rational mental processes, such as intuition. God created the universe but does not interfere in its workings. The world operates according to God’s rules, and through the use of reason, people can discover those rules.

5 Background notes, continued
People are basically good and perfectible. Since God wants people to be happy, they worship God best by helping other people. Human history is marked by progress toward a more perfect existence.

6 Introduction The theme of journey as a declaration of independence
William Cullen Bryant, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and John Russell Lowell are Romantic poets (Fireside Poets)

7 Introduction Washington Irving - Father of American Literature
James Fenimore Cooper - Father of the American novel Edgar Allan Poe - inventor of the American Short Story

8 Introduction Ralph Waldo Emerson is the Father of American Transcendentalism Henry David Thoreau is a famous practical transcendentalist Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne are Anti-Romantics Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman are bridge poets between American Romanticism and the late 19th century.

9 Transcendental view of the world
Everything in the world, including human beings, is a reflection of the Divine Soul. The physical facts of the natural world are a doorway to the spiritual or ideal world. People can use their intuition to behold God’s spirit revealed in nature or in their own souls.

10 Transcendental view of the world
Self-reliance and individualism must outweigh external authority and blind conformity to custom and tradition. Spontaneous feelings and intuition are superior to deliberate intellectualism and rationality.

11 Introduction The rationalistic view of urban life was replaced by the Romantic view Rationalists saw cities as a place to find success and self-realization Romantics saw the city as a place of moral corruption, poverty, and death

12 Introduction The Romantic journey is to the countryside
The Romantics associated the country with independence, moral clarity, and purity The Gothic Romantic, Edgar Allan Poe, saw the country as a place of phantasm Irving saw the country as idyllic and as an escape

13 The Romantic Sensibility
Romanticism: valuing feeling and intuition over reason Romanticism: viewing life as we would like it to be, rather than how it really is Romanticism began in Germany and influenced literature, music, and art Romanticism is a reaction against Rationalism

14 The Romantic Sensibility
The development of slums and poverty due to the Industrial Revolution turned people from Rationalism Romantics believed that imagination, emotion, spontaneity, feelings, and nature were more important than rational thought

15 Characteristics of Romanticism
values feelings over intuition values the power of the imagination seeks the beauty of unspoiled nature values youthful innocence values individual freedom values the lessons of the past finds beauty in exotic locales, the supernatural, and in the imagination values poetry as the highest expression of the imagination values myth, legend, and folk culture

16 Romantic Escapism Romantic writing looked for comforting or exotic settings from the past This was found in the supernatural, in nature, and/or in folk legends Romantics believed in contemplating, or becoming one with the natural world The Gothic novel emerged from Romanticism

17 Romantic Escapism The Gothic novel had wild, haunted landscapes
It had supernatural events in the plot It was often mysterious The Gothic concept had roots in France, Germany, and England Edgar Allan Poe was Romanticism’s great American writer

18 Romantic Escapism Romanticism also used lyrical poetry as a means to contemplate the beauty of nature It focused on simple natural beauties Its intent was to seek truth through a calm contemplation of a simple natural beauty Romantics saw God in this contemplation

19 The American Novel Most American Romantic writers imitated the European writing style American Romantic novelists broke away from the European tradition and discovered uniquely American topics and settings American novelists explored the vast unknown lands – something the Europeans could not do

20 The American Novel James Fenimore Cooper was the first American novelist to break from European tradition His novels were set in the American frontier His central character, Natty Bumppo, was the first American literary hero

21 The American Novel Bumppo appeared in a series of Cooper novels as other characters: Hawkeye, Deerslayer, Leatherstocking, etc. He was virtuous, moral, distrustful of city life, one with nature, etc. His skills were almost superhuman Cooper’s series of novels were called The Leatherstocking Tales

22 The New American Hero American Romantic literature created this unique person (the American Romantic Hero) he is youthful (young or possesses youthful qualities) he is innocent (innocent or pure of purpose) he is intuitive (has a knowledge of people and life based on deep, intuitive understanding, not on formal learning)

23 The New American Hero, con’t.
he is one with nature (loves nature and avoids town life) he is a loner – uneasy around women he is handsome he is brave (quests for some higher truth in the natural world) he is moral and honorable (has a sense of honor based not on society’s rules but on some higher principle

24 American Romantic Poetry
Most Romantic poets worked within conventional European literary structures They proved that American poetry could reflect American subject matter, yet still hold to conventional poetic style Most American Romantic poets wrote about the past

25 American Romantic Poetry
The Fireside Poets, a Boston group of Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and Lowell, were widely read and loved in America They were the TV of the American Romantic period and families gathered around the fireside to be entertained by their poetry Their subject matter was comfortable and instructional

26 Adapted from

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