Transcript Romanticism

Late 1700’s to mid 1800’s
“America is a land of wonders, in which
everything is in constant motion and
every change seems an improvement….
No natural boundary seems to be set to the
efforts of man; and in his eyes what he
has not yet attempted to do.”
-Alexis de Tocqueville
• The United States is expanding as a result
-the Louisiana Purchase,
-the Gold Rush, and
-the Transcontinental Railroad
Slave Narratives
• is a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual movement
that originated in the second half of the 18th century in
Western Europe
• It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and
political norms of the Age of Enlightenment
• reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature,
and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts,
music, and literature.
• Title is misleading because Romantic writers do not
necessarily write about love.
• Writers elevate imagination over reason,
intuition, and fact
• Reveled in nature (or examine it with
imagination not from a scientific
• Writers accent fantastic (supernatural)
aspects of human experience
Romantic Writers
• Washington Irving
• William Cullen Bryant
• James Fenimore Cooper
• Emily Dickinson
• Walt Whitman
• The Transcendentalist movement was a reaction
against 18th century rationalism and a manifestation
of the general humanitarian trend of 19th century
thought. The movement was based on a fundamental
belief in the unity of the world and God. The soul of
each individual was thought to be identical with the world
-- a microcosm of the world itself. The doctrine of selfreliance and individualism developed through the
belief in the identification of the individual soul with God.
Tenets of Transcendentalism
Revered nature; preferred nature over civilization
Offered a spiritual and cultural alternative to American materialism
One must go beyond (transcend) the everyday human experience in order to
determine the ultimate reality of God. There is a need to see beyond what is before
our eyes, to see a deeper significance, a transcendent reality
Basically religious, emphasized role and importance of individual conscience and
value of intuition in matters of moral guidance and inspiration.
Critical of formalized religion.
Insistence on authority of individual conscience
A trust in the individual, democracy, possibility of continued change for the better
Transcendentalist Writers
• Henry David Thoreau – Withdrew from society to live on
Walden pond where he wrote about the power of nature
• Ralph Waldo Emerson- according to Emerson, the human
mind is so powerful it can unlock any mystery, from the
intricacies of nature to the wonder of God. To Emerson
“the individual is the world.” He created the idea of the
“universal over-soul,” which is the idea that every soul and
all of nature are part of a universal spirit. In other words
every soul is a part of the mind of God.
– Nature, Self-Reliance
• These two writers were the main Transcendentalist writers,
but they were not the only ones.
Lasting effects….
• The influence of Transcendentalists is so
woven into the fabric of American culture
that it is almost invisible, it is so bountiful
that it is often taken for granted. Whenever
people celebrate the individual, whenever
they look to the natural world as a mirror of
human lives, whenever they state a belief
in the power of intuition to grasp
fundamental truths, they owe a debt to the
Transcendentalist movement.
Anti-Transcendentalism/ Gothic Romance
Explores the idea that man is prone to sin and self-destruction, not as
inherently possessing divinity and wisdom
Evil appears in the forms of Satan, devils, ghosts, vampires, ghouls
Nature is a deeply sinister and spiritual force
Nature is dark, decaying, and mysterious and when it reveals the truth
to man it is evil and hellish
Often shows man failing in the attempt to better himself
Anti-Transcendentalist Writers
• Edgar Allan Poe
– “Tell Tale Heart”, “Black Cat”, “Fall of the House of
• Nathaniel Hawthorne
– The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables ,
“The Minister’s Black Veil”
What Genres?
Short stories
Magazine articles/stories
Includes all genres that were written
during early periods of Amer. literature