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American Romanticism 1800 - 1860. “We will walk with our own feet we will work with our own hands we will speak our own minds” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

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Presentation on theme: "American Romanticism 1800 - 1860. “We will walk with our own feet we will work with our own hands we will speak our own minds” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Romanticism 1800 - 1860

2 “We will walk with our own feet we will work with our own hands we will speak our own minds” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

3 Romanticism  A movement in art, literature, and music during the 18 th century  A school of thought which values feelings and intuition over reason  Began in Germany and Great Britain  British Romantics – Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, & Bryon  Didn’t reach America until years later

4 Romanticism vs. Rationalism  Romanticism developed, in part, as a revolt against the Age of Reason  Rationalism – the belief that humans can arrive at truth by using reason rather than relying on the authority of the past, on religious faith, or intuition  “The Declaration of Independence” based on Rationalist principles  Industrialism led to terrible working conditions and poor living conditions in cities – revealed the limits of reason

5 American Romanticism  A journey away from the corruption of civilization and constraints of rational thought  The imagination can discover truths that rational mind could not reach  Imagination, individual feelings, and wild nature are of greater value than reason, logic, and cultivation

6 Characteristics of Romanticism  Values feeling and intuition over reason  Places faith in imagination  Nature is preferred over civilization  Prefers youthful innocence to educated sophistication  Champions individual freedom and the worth of the individual

7 Characteristics of Romanticism  Reflects on nature’s beauty as a path to spiritual and moral development  Looks backward to the wisdom of the past and distrusts progress  Finds beauty and truth in exotic locales, the supernatural realm, and the inner world of the imagination  Sees poetry as the highest expression of the imagination  Finds inspiration in myth, legend, and folklore

8 Romantic Escapism  Romantics wanted to rise above dull realities to a realm of higher truth  Through the exploration of the past and of exotic, even supernatural, realms--the Gothic novel--old legends and folklore  Through the contemplation of the natural world--lyric poetry--its underlying beauty and truth

9 The American Novel  Prior to American Romanticism, most American literature was based on European models  The development of the American novel coincided with westward expansion, with the growth of a nationalist spirit, and with the rapid spread of cities

10 Europeans vs. Americans  Europeans had an image of the American as unsophisticated and uncivilized  The rationalist hero (like Ben Franklin), was worldly, educated, sophisticated, and set out to make a place for himself in civilization  American Romantic novelists set out to prove that truths were waiting to be discovered not in dusty libraries, crowed cities, or glittering court life, but in the American wilderness that was unknown and unavailable to Europeans  The American Romantic hero was youthful, innocent, intuitive, and close to nature

11 James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)  Explored uniquely American settings and characters: frontier communities, American Indians, backwoodsmen, and the wilderness of New York and Pennsylvania  He created the first American hero, Natty Bumppo (The Last of the Mohicans, The Deerslayer)

12 The American Romantic Hero  Is young or possesses youthful qualities  Is innocent and pure of purpose  Has a sense of honor based not on society’s rules but on some higher principle  Has a knowledge of people and life based on deep, intuitive understanding, not on formal learning  Loves nature and avoids town life  Quests for some higher truth in the natural world

13 Fireside Poets  Romantic poets wanted to prove that Americans were not unsophisticated  Modeled themselves after European literary traditions rather than by crafting a unique, American voice  Used typical English themes, meter, and imagery  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell are the fireside poets  Poems read aloud at the fireside as family entertainment

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