American romanticism
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The Oxbow , Thomas Cole, 1836. American Romanticism. Imagination and the Individual. 1800 - 1860. “I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson. Forging a Cultural Identity.

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American Romanticism

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American romanticism

The Oxbow, Thomas Cole, 1836.

American Romanticism

Imagination and the Individual

1800 - 1860

“I unsettle all things. No facts are to me sacred; none are profane; I simply experiment, an endless seeker, with no Past at my back.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Forging a cultural identity

Forging a Cultural Identity

  • By the beginning of the 19th century, America had established itself has an independent nation; however, they were only just beginning to establish their own cultural identity.

  • A new generation of writers, who called themselves Romantics and Transcendentalists, created a new kind of literature that emphasized imagination, feelings, individualism, and enthusiasm for nature.

  • Think of this new writing as the first truly “American” literature.

Birch and Maple, Asher Brown Durand, 1855.


Romanticism

Romanticism

  • Romanticism was, in large part, a reaction to rationalism.

  • Romanticism values feelings over logic and reasoning.

  • Romanticism also emphasizes the power of the imagination and the individual spirit as well as the beauty of nature.

Kindred Spirits, Asher Brown Durand, 1849.


Characteristics of romanticism

Characteristics of Romanticism

  • Romanticism is marked by these characteristics:

    • a conviction that intuition, imagination, and emotion provide a clearer route to truth than reason alone;

    • a conviction that poetry is superior to science;

    • a belief that contemplation of the natural world is a means of discovering truth;

    • a distrust of industry and city life;

    • an interest in the supernatural.


Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism

  • Transcendentalism refers to the idea that in determining the ultimate reality of God, the universe, the self, and other important matters, one must transcend, or go beyond, everyday human experience.

Cascade, William Stanley Haseltine.


Characteristics of transcendentalism

Characteristics of Transcendentalism

  • Transcendentalism is marked by these beliefs:

    • God is in every aspect of nature, including every human being;

    • everyone is capable of understanding God through intuition;

    • nature is a reflection of divine spirit.


Important authors of the period

Important Authors of the Period

  • William Cullen Bryant

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Henry David Thoreau

  • Washington Irving

  • Nathaniel Hawthrone

  • Edgar Allen Poe

  • Herman Melville

Landscape. River Running Between Pastures, Christopher Pearse Cranch c. 1850.


William cullen bryant literary prodigy 1794 1878

William Cullen Bryant – Literary Prodigy (1794-1878)

  • Bryant began writing early in his life and had his first poem published at the age of 10.

  • Bryant’s first book was published at the age of 13, a satire of an embargo put in place by Thomas Jefferson.

  • At 16, Bryant entered Williams College with hopes of moving onto Yale.

    • Two years later, Bryant left college and began studying for the Bar. After three years of studying, he was finally accepted.

  • At the age of 17, Bryant wrote Thanatopsis

    • half poem was written when Bryant was 17, other half written when he was in his 60s

  • generally considered first important American poem

William Cullen Bryant, c. 1876.


Henry wadsworth longfellow 1807 1882

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

  • A Popular Fellow

    • Longfellow was and still is the most popular poet America has ever produced. His poetry appealed greatly to an audience hungry for sermons and lessons.

  • Poet of Great Stature

    • During one journey abroad, his wife died. Soon after, he became a professor of French and Spanish at Harvard and seven years later married his second wife, Franny Appleton. They settled into eighteen years of happy marriage, during which he produced some of his most celebrated poetry, including Evangeline (1847) and The Song of Hiawatha (1855).

    •   By 1854, Longfellow had devoted himself to writing full time. Seven years later, though, tragedy struck when his wife died in a fiery accident. Longfellow tried to save her, smothering the flames with a rug, and was badly burned himself. Longfellow then devoted himself to his work with a religious and literary zeal. He lived a long and productive life, and two years after his death, his marble image was unveiled in the Poet’s Corner in London’s Westminster Abbey. He was the first American to be so honored.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Ralph waldo emerson 1803 1882

Ralph Waldo Emerson(1803-1882)

  • b. in 1803 in Boston, Mass.

  • Harvard education (to become a minister)

  • Accept a post at a church in Boston and marries, only to have his wife die seventeen months later.

  • Resigns his post and travels to Europe

  • Meets up with the English Romantic poets

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Southworth & Hawes, c. 1857.


Ralph waldo emerson cont

Ralph Waldo Emerson, cont.

  • Returned to American in 1833

  • Founding member of the “Transcendental Club” (1836)

  • Best know for his essays

    • “Nature,” “The American Scholar,” “Divinity School Address” & “Self-Reliance”

  • In “The American Scholar,” Emerson calls for American’s to create a writing style of their own.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.


Self reliance reading assignment

Self-Reliance Reading Assignment

  • Given in class.

Woodland Interior,Asher B. Durand, c. 1855.


Henry david thoreau 1817 1862

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

  • b. July 12, 1817 in Concord, Mass.

  • Harvard educated

  • Moved to the shores of Walden Pond in 1845

  • This move began his two year experiment of reconnecting with nature

  • Walden is a record of Thoreau’s experience.

Henry David Thoreau in June 1856 (Aged 39), 1856.


Walden reading assignment

Walden Reading Assignment

  • Given in class.

The Old Pine, Darien, Connecticut, John Frederick Kensett .


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