2 DescriptionAmerican Romanticism can best be described as a journey away from the corruption of civilization and the limits of rational thought and toward the integrity of nature and the freedom of the imagination.
3 DetailsRomanticism is a name given to those schools of thought that value feeling over intuition and reasonIt developed, especially in Europe, in part as a reaction to rationalism.As industry grew, the city, for rationalists became a place to find success and self-realization.For Romantics, though, the city was often a place of moral ambiguity and worse, corruption and death.
4 Details, cont’d.The Romantics came to believe that the imagination was able to apprehend truths that the rational mind couldn’t reach.These truths were usually accompanied by powerful emotion and associated with natural, unspoiled beauty.To the Romantic sensibility and imagination, spontaneity, individual feelings, and wild nature were of greater value than reason, logic, planning, and cultivation.Romantics viewed poetry as the highest and most sublime embodiment of the imagination.
5 Romantic EscapismThe Romantics wanted to rise above “dull realities” to a realm of higher truth. They did this in two ways:First, they searched for exotic settings in the more “natural” past or in a world far removed from the industrial age.Second, they tried to contemplate the natural world until dull reality fell away to reveal underlying beauty and truth.
6 Escapism, cont’d.The Romantic approach is most easily felt in the development of the Gothic novel with its wild, haunted landscapes, supernatural events, and mysterious medieval castles.While popular in Europe, America seemed to young to have anywhere “”haunted”.However, many authors, most notable Edgar Allan Poe, were attracted to it.Poe’s work, especially, took a turn toward the psychological exploration of the human mind.
7 The American NovelAmerican novelists looked to westward expansion and the development of the frontier for inspiration, creating subject matter that broke with European tradition.
8 A New Kind of HeroThe American Romantic Hero possesses the qualities of youthfulness, innocence, intuitiveness and closeness to the natural world that set him solidly apart from the hero of the Age of Reason.
9 Sooo, which are you?If you had to classify yourself, are you a rationalist or a Romantic?Are you a practical, ambitious, worldly Benjamin Franklin or an intuitive, close-to-nature Romantic?
10 SourcesAll information taken from Elements of Literature: Fifth Course. PagesE.A. Poe pictured taken from Google images.