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American Romanticism

Presentation for English III Honors

Lynsay McCaulley

on 31 August 2016

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Transcript of American Romanticism

Imagination and the Individual
American Romanticism
Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die on the same day--July 4.
Nathaniel Hawthorne publishes The Scarlet Letter.
Herman Melville publishes Moby Dick.
Henry David Thoreau publishes Walden.
Walt Whitman publishes the first edition of Leaves of Grass.
The Gold Rush
The Louisiana Purchase
Education and Reform
Westward expansion was launched!
Tens of thousands of Americans hoped to strike it rich.
One of the popular lecturers was Ralph Waldo Emerson, the figurehead of the influential idealistic group, the Transcendentalists.
The Journey to the American Dream
The Romantic Sensibility
Romanticism = feeling + intuition > facts + reason
Romanticism was developed in part as a reaction against rationalism.
The Romantics believed that the imagination could discover truths that the rational mind could not.
From Dull Realities to Higher Truths
In nature, the Puritans found the God they knew from the Bible.
The Romantics, on the other hand, found a less clearly defined divinity in nature.
Characteristics of American Romanticism
The American Novel and the Wilderness Experience
The development of the American novel coincided with westward expansion, with the growth of a nationalist spirit, and with the rapid spread of cities.
All of these factors tended to reinforce the idealization of frontier life.
Characteristics of the American Romantic Hero
Young and possesses youthful qualities
Innocent and pure of purpose
Has a sense of honor based not on society's rules but on some higher principle
Has a knowledge of people and life based on deep, intuitive understanding, not on formal learning
Loves nature and avoids town life
Quests for some higher truth in the natural world
Can you name three American Romantic heroes.
American Romantic Poetry
The Fireside Poets = Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and Lowell
Emerson and Whitman were also Romantic poets.
The Fireside Poets, AKA the Schoolroom Poets
It's the idea that nature can help human beings transcend, or go beyond, the physical to understand the metaphysical.
A Transcendental View of the World
Everything in the world, including human beings, is a reflection of the Divine Soul.
The physical facts of the natural world are a doorway to the spiritual or ideal world.
People can use their intuition to behold God's spirit revealed in nature or in their own souls.
Self-reliance and individualism must outweigh external authority and blind conformity to custom and tradition.
Spontaneous feelings and intuition are superior to deliberate intellectualism and rationality.
The Dark Romantics
The Dark Romantics were considered anti-Transcendentalists, but they weren't. They saw the supernatural in the natural, but that power might not necessarily be good and pure. The other half of heaven, as they saw it, was hell.
Dark Romantic writers include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allan Poe.
They emphasized the dark side of humanity: Original Sin, innate human wickedness, and predestination.
They explored the conflicted between good and evil, the psychological effect of guilt and sin, and madness in the human psyche.
Values feeling and intuition over reason
Places faith in inner experience and the power of the imagination
Values feeling and intuition over reason
Places faith in inner experience and the power of the imagination
Shuns the artificiality of civilization and seeks unspoiled nature
Prefers youthful innocence to educated sophistication
Champions individual freedom and the worth of the individual
Reflects on nature's beauty as a path to spiritual and moral development
Looks backward to the wisdom of the past and distrusts progress
Finds beauty in exotic locales, the supernatural realm, and the inner world of the imagination
Sees poetry as the highest expression of the imagination
Finds inspiration in myth, legend, and folklore
Full transcript