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American Transcendentalist Literature 1840-1855. A new philosophy: Transcendentalism. Began in the 1840’s Literary Movement influenced by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant Concentrated in New England – called the New England Renaissance

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Transcendentalist Literature


a new philosophy transcendentalism
A new philosophy: Transcendentalism
  • Began in the 1840’s
  • Literary Movement influenced by the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant
  • Concentrated in New England – called the New England Renaissance
  • Reaction against intellectual and rational belief of the Unitarian Church.
transcendentalism a definition
Transcendentalism – A definition
  • Human senses can know only the physical reality.
  • The fundamental truths of existence lay outside the reach of the senses and can only be grasped through intuition.
  • Attention is focused on the human spirit
  • Attention is also focused on the natural world and its relationship to humanity.
  • All forms of being God, nature, and humanity are spiritually united.
elements of transcendentalism
Elements of Transcendentalism
  • Mysticism and emotional intensity
  • Emphasis on the Individual
  • Respect for Nature
  • Great faith in higher forms of knowledge
  • Live simply
  • Transcendental is the understanding a person gains intuitively
major beliefs
Major Beliefs
  • Over-Soul: omnipresent power of goodness and truth
  • Basic truth of the universe lies beyond the knowledge we obtain from ourselves.
major beliefs6
Major Beliefs:
  • We obtain knowledge through:
  • Physical world - science and technology
  • Intuition - soul
influences on transcendentalism
Influences on Transcendentalism
  • Religion - “New Puritanism”
  • We can experience God first hand
  • Everyone can experience God
  • Inner spiritual life is confirmed by nature
  • Spiritual unity of all forms of being - God/humanity/nature share universal soul.
  • B. Literature (Romanticism)
  • Belief in the good of humanity.
  • Value of the individual
  • Nature demands reverence of the writer. It is a symbol.
  • Nature is a means to self-knowledge.
achievements of transcendentalism
Achievements of Transcendentalism
  • Relates all individuals to both the natural world and their own inner worlds.
  • New self-awareness
  • Long-term influence on American poetry -- development of individualism.
american transcendentalists
American Transcendentalists
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Walt Whitman
  • Emily Dickinson
ralph waldo emerson 1803 1882
Ralph Waldo Emerson1803 - 1882
  • Father of Transcendentalism.
  • Told Americans they should develop their own distinctive art forms, rather than to continue to imitate European models.
  • Major Work: Nature
henry david thoreau 1817 1862
Henry David Thoreau1817 - 1862
  • Follower of Emerson who put the transcen-dental philosophy into practice.
  • Bought land near Walden Pond and lived there for two years.
henry david thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
  • Major Works: Walden and “Civil Disobedience.”
  • “Civil Disobedience” profoundly influenced leaders throughout the world, including Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
walt whitman 1819 1892
Walt Whitman1819 - 1892
  • Co-founder of modern American poetry.
  • Style characterized by frank subject matter, long, rambling style.
  • His mission was to bring ranks, races, and civilizations together.
  • Major Work: Leaves of Grass.
emily dickinson 1830 1886
Emily Dickinson1830-1886
  • Wrote nearly 1,800 poems.
  • Cofounder of Modern American Poetry.
  • The majority of her poetry was published after she died.
  • In 1955, she finally gained the recognition she deserved.
emily dickinson
Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who Are You

I'm nobody! Who are you?

Are you nobody, too?

Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!

They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!

How public, like a frog

To tell your name the livelong day

To an admiring bog!