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New England Renaissance. The First Major Literary Period in America. New England Renaissance 1830’s - 1850’s Called the American Renaissance if including Poe and others Northeasterners include Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Fireside poets, and Whitman. Transcendentalism

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New England Renaissance

The First Major Literary Period in America


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  • New England Renaissance

  • 1830’s - 1850’s

  • Called the American Renaissance if including Poe and others

  • Northeasterners include Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Fireside poets, and Whitman


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  • Transcendentalism

  • A philosophical movement in New England

  • 1840’s

  • Philosophy, literature, reform movement


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Transcendentalist Philosophy

They believed a spiritual reality pervaded everything, like “the Force” in Star Wars.


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  • Transcendentalism

  • The Oversoul pervades all of nature

  • The Oversoul is within every human being, like a spark of divinity

  • A person can experience oneness with the Oversoul through intuition


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  • Transcendentalism

  • Such an experience is a Transcendental moment

  • A person alone in nature may experience a Transcendental moment

  • Note the influence of Hinduism and Platonic idealism


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Transcendentalism as Literature

Henry David Thoreau

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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  • Emerson and Thoreau

  • Friends, colleagues, teacher and student

  • Harvard graduates

  • Fellow citizens of Concord, Massachusetts

  • Transcendental Club

  • Optimistic, individualistic, non-materialistic


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  • Emerson and Thoreau

  • Both were poets, but not good ones

  • Famous mainly for essays, non-fiction books, and lectures


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