Romanticism • The term derives from “romance,” which from the Medieval Period (1200-1500) and on simply meant a story (e.g. all the chivalric, King Arthur legends) that was adventuristic and improbable.
How it begins… • The "Romantic Period" refers to literary and cultural movements in England, Europe, and America roughly from 1770 to 1860. • It is an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world.
Before Reaching America… • The Romantic movement began in Germany and England in response to Industrialization and the Age of Enlightenment; Thomas Paine called it the Age of Reason. • The forerunners believed all humans are naturally good; society makes them bad. • The Romantic movement was inherently antiprogress, if progress meant industrialization.
William Blake “The Chimney Sweeper” from Songs of Innocence When my mother died I was very young,And my father sold me while yet my tongue,Could scarcely cry weep weepweepweep,So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep. … And so Tom awoke and we rose in the darkAnd got with our bags & our brushes to work.Tho' the morning was cold, Tom was happy & warmSo if all do their duty, they need not fear harm. from Songs of Experience And because I am happy, & dance & sing,They think they have done me no injury:And are gone to praise God & his Priest & KingWho make up a heaven of our misery.
Romanticism as a Movement… • Difficult to define • Group of ideas • Web of beliefs No oneRomantic writer expressed all the ideas, but each believed enough of them to set him apart from earlier writers.
Historical Influences Age of Reason British Romantic Period Westward Expansion Increased Immigration Religious Exploration Growth of Industrialization Period of Prosperity Sense of Pride
Five I’s of Romanticism • Imagination • Intuition • Innocence • Inner Experience • Inspiration from nature and the supernatural
Romantic Writers… • Commune with nature • Assert the value of the individual • Believe good literature follows the heart, not the rules • View the world as dynamic and organic • Pursue solitude (rural vs. urban) • Embrace the lofty ideals of democracy • Recognize inequalities still exist in the social and political climate • Emphasize emotion over reason
Subcategories of Romanticism • Fireside Poets • Transcendentalists • Brooding Writers
Fireside Poets Characteristics: Poets:: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow William Cullen Bryant John Greenleaf Whittier Longfellow wrote work with family friendly content & produced poems straightforward in meaning. • Classic Romantic poets • “Mainstream” poets • Optimistic • Hopeful expression of ideas • Focused on beauty of nature Subjects included love, patriotism, nature, family, God, and religion.
Transcendentalists Characteristics: Writers & Poets: Ralph Waldo Emerson Henry David Thoreau Walt Whitman • Pursued types of knowledge that exist above & beyond reason & experience • Disliked materialism & conformity • Respected the hard work ethic demonstrated by the Puritans • Strived for unity between man & nature
Brooding Writers(antitranscendentalists or dark romantics) Characteristics: Writers: Edgar Allan Poe Nathaniel Hawthorne Herman Melville • “Alternative” Romantic poets • Focused on the human capacity for evil • Integrated aspects of the unusual & the macabre into works
Edgar Allan Poe • Explored human psyche • Tapped into human fears • Wrote grotesques: contains characters that induce both empathy and disgust • Credited with inventing the detective story
Nathaniel Hawthorne • Examines the human heart under various conditions (fear, greed, vanity, mistrust, & betrayal) • Believed world contained dark places that reason could not break through • Produced allegorically symbolic works
Final Comments… Be sure to copy these.
American Romanticism: Common Ideas A desire to… • idealize the mysteries, dangers, & holiness found within nature • find solace & escape within an unadulterated nature • idealize primitive or natural cultures & primitive people • idealize the American past rather than a classical past