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American Romanticism 1820-1865.

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Presentation on theme: "American Romanticism 1820-1865."— Presentation transcript:

1 American Romanticism

2 National Optimism Rapid expansion of US acreage and population
Louisiana Purchase and Gold Rush Agricultural advancement Industrial advancement Frontier Technological advancements

3 Problems Facing the Nation
SECTIONALISM North vs. South Economic security/superiority Slavery expansion Political leadership

4 Beginnings of American Literature
Was American lit. to be “strikingly American”? Narrower view Resulted in hokey work that tried to encompass American in its entirety, praising its past and supposed future greatness

5 Or… Was American writing to be universal and comparable to the great works of Europe? Broader view that wound up prevailing Aided by the achievement of Romantic writers

6 Puritanism Simple, Sparce, Straightforward. Purpose for Literature:
~ Purpose for Literature: provide spiritual insight and instruction Mostly sermons, theological studies, and hymns Coexisting in our earliest writings are Puritans and Neoclassicists/Deist. Puritan Style Simple, Sparce, Straightforward.

7 1750-1800 Rationalism The Founding Fathers: Neoclassicists Emphasized
reason, harmony, and restraint Also some embraced Deism And in other colonies… Not all Neoclassicists were Deists, but nearly all Deist were wrote in the Neoclassic style. Classicism typically refere to what are considered characteristics of classical life that include simplicity, harmony, proportional representation and emotional restraint. The Enlightenment was a movement of intellectuals who were greatly impressed with the accomplishments of the Scientific Revolution, and when they used the word reason they were advocating the application of the scientific method to the understanding of all life. It is generally considered to be part of the Age of Reason. Deist believed in God, but not a Trinity, an inspired Bible, or a relational God.

8 American Romanticism Roots in Europe
In the U.S., it ran from Of all the literary and philosophical movements, this one has probably most affected the perception of people’s relationships to others and to God.

9 Romance: Less formal version of epic
Noble character on a series of adventures Pastoral (wilderness) setting Love interest and the idealization of women

10 Characteristics of American Literary Romanticism
1. INDIVIDUALISM Popularized by the frontier tradition Jacksonian democracy Abolitionism

11 Rejection of the Puritan belief in total depravity:
People were naturally benevolent Mind was a tabula rosa at birth individuals are born without built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception ("blank slate“) Corrupted by institutions that sought to dehumanize individuals People worth highlighting are those closest to Nature “Noble savage” Truth can best be found in Nature… unadulterated, uncorrupted by man …the purest form of man was the most Native.

12 2. IMAGINATION Reaction against the earlier age’s emphasis on Reason

13 3. EMOTION Feeling is now considered superior to rationality or intellect, as the mode of perceiving and experiencing reality Intuition leads one to truth Truth/reality are now highly subjective

14 4. NATURE The means of knowing Truth
God reveals himself solely through Nature Nature becomes a moral teacher Eden-like and untouched by Adam’s fall A retreat for men U.S. literature full of lavish descriptions of Nature U.S. literature different in the sense of wild Nature vs. Europe’s cultivated Nature

15 5. DISTANT SETTINGS Both in terms of time and place
Used to comment on attitudes of the time period

16 Transcendentalists Part of the American Romantic Movement
Part of the American Romantic Movement Believed that: Truth could not be perceived with the five senses Human soul is part of the Oversoul or universal spirit, which it returns to at a person’s death Held nature in as an object of worship Transcendentalism was the name of a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture and philosophy that advocates that there is an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through a knowledgeable intuitive awareness that is conditional upon the individual. The concept emerged in New England in the early-to mid-nineteenth century. ... A broad, philosophical movement in New England during the Romantic era (peaking between 1835 and 1845). It stressed the role of divinity in nature and the individual s intuition, and exalted feeling over reason. Transcendentalism was an American literary and philosophical movement of the nineteenth century. The Transcendentalists, who were based in New England, believed that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” experience and thus are better guides to truth than are the senses and logical reason. ... Includes the Dark Transcendentalism or Anti-Transcendentalist—Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville

17 Anti-Transcendentalism
Hawthorne and Melville Evil Abounds Not Optimistic

In his short stories and poetry applied universal standards of literary criticism. Developed the American short story; brevity concept.

19 American Authors

( ) Not so much fiction as “sketches” Distinctly American settings and characters The History of New York Narrator: Diedrich Knickerbocker “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

21 2. JAMES FENIMORE COOPER (1789-1851)
First successful American author Grew up in Cooperstown, NY Wrote 32 novels, including The Last of the Mohicans and The Leatherstocking Tales

22 NEW ENGLAND SCHOOL (Fireside Poets) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Oliver Wendell Holmes John Greenleaf Whittier James Russell Lowell 5. William Cullen Bryant

23 America’s First Literary Stars
The Fireside Poets America’s First Literary Stars

24 We watched the first red blaze appear, Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam On whitewashed wall and sagging beam, Until the old, rude-furnished room Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom; While radiant with a mimic flame Outside the sparkling drift became, And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free. from Snow-bound, John Greenleaf Whittier

25 What are the Fireside Poets?
First group of American poets to rival British poets in popularity in either country. Notable for their scholarship and the resilience of their lines and themes. Preferred conventional forms over experimentation. Attention to rhyme and strict metrical cadences made their work popular for memorization and recitation. Often used American legends and scenes of American life as their subject matter.

26 Who were the Fireside Poets?
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow William Cullen Bryant James Russell Lowell Oliver Wendell Holmes John Greenleaf Whittier

27 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Composed “Song of Hiawatha” “Paul Revere’s Ride” (ballad – narrative poem) “Psalm of Life” “The Day Is Done” “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” “The Cross of Snow” (sonnet – 14 line poem – Italian sonnet: octave + sestet) Translated Dante’s Inferno from Italian into English

28 William Cullen Bryant 1794-1878 Composed
“To a Waterfowl” and “Thanatopsis” One of the founders of the Republican party and supporter of Lincoln

29 James Russell Lowell 1819-1891 Composed “The First Snowfall”
and “The Present Crisis” and “Under the Old Elm” Active in anti-slavery causes Satirist and critic Lyric poet, best remembered for his nature poems

30 Oliver Wendell Holmes 1809-1894 Son of a Calvinist minister
Medical doctor – invented the term “anesthesia.” one of the founding editors of the journal Atlantic Monthly in 1857 Composed “Old Ironsides,” which saved the U.S.S. Constitution from the scrap yard Father of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

31 John Greenleaf Whittier
Son of Quakers Little formal schooling Composed Snow-bound , “Maude Muller” and “Barefoot Boy” Devoted to social causes Active in anti-slavery movement helped to found Atlantic Monthly in 1857 The Civil War inspired the famous poem "Barbara Frietchie"

32 Lasting Impact of Fireside Poets
Longfellow remained the most popular American poet for decades. When Poe criticized him, he was all but ostracized. Longfellow remains the only American poet to be immortalized by a bust in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner They took on causes in their poetry, such as the abolition of slavery, which brought the issues to the forefront in a palatable way. Through their scholarship and editorial efforts, they paved the way for later Romantic writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.

RALPH WALDO EMERSON Famous for poetry, Nature, and “Self-Reliance” Spokesman for transcendentalism very optimistic about humans’ benevolent nature Spent much of his life in Concord, Mass Lectured and made the rounds as a proponent of transcendentalism (lyceum)

HENRY DAVID THOREAU Probably best known for Civil Disobedience and Walden Practiced his own preaching Influenced future leaders

35 Walden I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life . . ."

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