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Individualism. A Romantic and Transcendental Thought. Transcendentalism. Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalism.

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A Romantic and Transcendental Thought



Ralph Waldo Emerson


Henry David Thoreau


  • An intellectual movement of the 19th century. Transcendentalists were interested in the human spirit and thought that an exploration of nature helped people understand universal truths.


  • Believed the individual was at the center of the universe, more powerful than any institution whether political or religious (384).


  • Ralph Waldo Emerson was considered the “father” of Transcendentalism in many ways.

  • Struggled with his faith so much, that he began questioning his own beliefs and establishing his own philosophy

  • As he struggled with his own faith, he struggled with the notion that machines might in the future replace people and the concerned him


  • What does this work reveal to you about Transcendentalism?

Civil disobedience
Civil Disobedience

  • “That government is best which governs least” is the motto that Thoreau expresses throughout this essay (416). What does he mean? What change is he calling for?

Self reliance
Self Reliance

  • Which aspects, if any, of today’s American culture reflect Emerson’s belief in self-reliance?

Catalogue poem

Catalogue Poem

Read the following poem and…

Write an appropriate title

Explain what the poem “lists” and if it is effective.


Six Yu-Gi-Oh cards.

Chewing gum wrappers.

School handouts, two weeks overdue.

Three rubber bands.

A five-inch-tall stuffed dog.

Four small blood stains.

Two smooth, gray rocks.

Fourth-grade intrigue.

Four pencils with no lead and no eraser.

Righteous indignation.


Avril Lavigne.

Asthma inhaler.

A feather.

Fourteen pale pink ribbons.

Playground news.

Someone's phone number scribbled on a Heath Bar wrapper.

Eight secrets.

Head lice, once.

Plans of her own.


  • Focus on life rather than death; specifically in the American Culture

  • Problem: only focused on ONE type of culture


  • Speaker

  • Mood

  • Catalogue Poetry—Poem using lists

  • Repetition—using the same words



Mason bricklayers
Mason (Bricklayers)

Boatman and deckhand
Boatman and Deckhand

Shoemaker and hatter
Shoemaker and Hatter

Wood cutter and plowboy
Wood-cutter and Plowboy

Mother young wife girl at work
Mother, Young Wife, & Girl at work

The cycle of life
The Cycle of LIFE

  • The Cycle of life can be divided into 5 stages. In your opinion, what are the five stages? What would you use to symbolize each stage? What emotions, ideals, or connotations do people associate with each stage? Why do these stages apply to all cultures and all people?

Poetry notes

Poetry Notes

Romanticism & The American Dream

Poetry people and their profound poetic prayers
Poetry People and their Profound Poetic Prayers

  • Narrative Poetry: tells a story (ballads, epics, verse romantics)

  • Dramatic poetry: presents the speech of more than one character

  • Lyric poetry: expresses the thoughts/feelings of a single speaker (sonnets, odes, elegies, haikus)

Poetic theme

Poetic Theme

Cycle of LIFE and DEATH

Terms to know
Terms to know

  • Alliteration: SOUND DEVICE

  • Catalogue poetry: TYPE


  • Mood: LIT TERM

  • Onomatopoeia: SOUND DEVICE

  • Personification: FIGURATIVE LANG

  • Refrain: SOUND DEVICE

  • Repetition: SOUND DEVICE

  • Speaker: LIT TERM

Authors we ll look at
Authors we’ll look at

  • Edgar Allan Poe

  • Emily Dickinson

  • Walt Whitman

Romantic and poe
Romantic and Poe

  • Poe wrote mainly with a Gothic style. Gothic style is characterized by the following elements:

    • The story is set in bleak or remote places.

    • The plot involves macabre or violent incidents.

    • Characters are in psychological and/or physical torment.

    • A supernatural or otherworldly element is often present.

  • How does this fall under the “romantic umbrella”?

Fun fact
Fun Fact

  • “When Edgar Allan Poe died, Rufus Griswold wrote a slanderous obituary of the eccentric writer. He claimed that Poe had been expelled from college, that he had neither good friends nor good qualities, and that he committed flagrant acts of plagiarism. Suspicious of this unconventional obituary, some have speculated that Poe orchestrated the death notice himself to keep his name in the public eye (310)”


1. Mood

Feeling the reader gets

2. Onomatopoeia

Words that imitate sounds

3. Alliteration

Repetition of initial consonant sounds

4. Speaker

Who is talking in the piece

5. Refrain

Lines that are repeated in verse

The bells

The Bells

Edgar Allan Poe

We re going to look for the following
We’re going to look for the following:

  • Alliteration (highlight color 1)

  • Onomatopoeia (highlight color 2)

  • Refrain (boxed)

  • Theme (written)

  • Mood (written)

Adapted from how death is handled in various cultures

(Adapted from) How Death is Handled in Various Cultures

Charlotte Kuchinsky

Death and cultures
Death and Cultures

Why do all cultures have clear identifiable rituals for handling death? What does this tell us about all humans? Does this prove that Poe was right with his poem?

Compare contrast poe s theme of death triumphs over life to one of the cultures view of death

Compare/Contrast Poe’s theme of “Death Triumphs over Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

Dickinson Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

  • Recluse; odd insight to life and death; odd energy and intensity

  • 7 poems published pre-death

  • Self conscious; asked her family to destroy them at her death---why?

Lyric poem
Lyric Poem Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

  • It expresses the feelings of a single speaker’s journey to death…

    • Similar to Poe? How?

Analyzing Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

  • Speaker

  • Mood

  • Alliteration

  • Metaphor

    • A comparison not using like or as

  • Personification:

    • giving human characteristics to something non human

Because i could not stop for death

Because I could not Stop for Death— Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

HE kindly stopped for me.

The carriage held but just ourselves

The Carriage held but just Ourselves— Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

And Immortality

We slowly drove he knew no haste

We slowly drove—He knew no haste Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

  And I had put away

  My labor and my leisure too,

  For his Civility—

We passed the school where children strove 10 at recess in the ring

We passed the School, where Children strove Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death. 10 At Recess—in the Ring—

We passed the fields of gazing grain

We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain— Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

We passed the setting sun

Or rather Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death. HE passed us—

We passed the Setting Sun—

The dews drew quivering and chill
The Dews drew quivering and chill— Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

For only gossamer my gown my tippet only tulle
For only Gossamer, my Gown— Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.   My Tippet—only Tulle —

So… Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.


We paused before a House that seemed Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

A Swelling of the Ground—

The Roof was scarcely visible—

The Cornice —in the Ground—


Since then—’tis Centuries—and yet Life” to one of the cultures’ view of death.

  Feels shorter than the Day

  I first surmised the HorsesHeads

  Were toward Eternity—


Which view of the cycle of life and death do you identify with the most—Poe’s or Dickinson’s? Explain.

Thinking… with the most—Poe’s or Dickinson’s? Explain.

  • What do these occupations have in common?

  • What type of jobs are they?

  • Do they still apply today?

  • What other occupations in today’s culture could you add?

Whitman poe and dickinson
Whitman, Poe and Dickinson with the most—Poe’s or Dickinson’s? Explain.

  • Whitman’s poem: Celebrates life

  • Dickinson’s poem: Romanticizes death

  • Poe’s poem: Sees death as inevitable triumph over life

  • What does it tell us about the individual in American Romanticism?

America or more
America or more with the most—Poe’s or Dickinson’s? Explain.

  • All three poems apply to America—but can they be applied culturally?

    • Dickinson—embrace death (Native American)

    • Poe—respect and fear death (Jewish)

    • Whitman—celebrate life (Irish)

How do you view the cycle
How do you View the Cycle? with the most—Poe’s or Dickinson’s? Explain.

  • Using your free write from earlier, compose your own version of these poems. Your poem must include at least 2 of the following…

    • Alliteration

    • Onomatopoeia

    • Personification

    • Refrain