American romanticism
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American Romanticism . Swansboro High School English 11. What is American Romanticism?. Romanticism refers to a movement in art, literature, and music during the 19 th century. ROMANTICISM was a REACTION to RATIONALISM.

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American Romanticism

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American Romanticism

Swansboro High School

English 11

What is American Romanticism?

  • Romanticism refers to a movement in art, literature, and music during the 19th century.


  • Rationalism was “any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge and logic for justification.”

  • Rationalism came before the Romanticism movement. Rationalism had focused on reason and science and also sparked the American Revolution.


  • Imagination

  • Intuition

  • Idealism

  • Inspiration

  • Individuality

Characteristics of American Romanticism

  • Values of feeling over reason

  • Places faith in the imagination

  • Shuns civilization and seeks nature

  • Prefers innocence to sophistication

  • Fights for the individual's freedom and worth

  • Trusts past wisdom, not progress

  • Reflects on nature to gain spiritual wisdom

  • Finds beauty and truth in supernatural or imaginative realms


  • Imagination was emphasized over “reason.”

  • Imagination was considered necessary for creating all art.

  • British writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it “intellectual intuition.”


  • Romantics placed value on “intuition,” or feeling and instincts, over reason.

  • Emotions were important in Romantic art.

  • British Romantic William Wordsworth described poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”


  • Idealism is the concept that we can make the world a better place.

  • Idealism refers to any theory that emphasizes the spirit, the mind, or language over matter – thought has a crucial role in making the world the way it is.


  • The Romantic artist, musician, or writer, is an “inspired creator” rather than a “technical master.”

  • What this means is “going with the moment” or being spontaneous, rather than “getting it precise.”


  • Romantics celebrated the individual.

  • During this time period, women’s rights and abolitionism were taking root as major movements.


  • In America, Romanticism most strongly impacted literature.

  • Writers explored supernatural and gothic themes.

  • Writers wrote about nature – Transcendentalists believed God was in nature, unlike “Age of Reason” writers like Franklin and Jefferson, who saw God as a “divine watchmaker” who created the universe and left it to run itself.

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