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Literary Movements in America

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Carden Moore

on 6 December 2016

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Transcript of Literary Movements in America

Literary Movements in America
American Romanticism
American Romanticism
Influenced by:
Great westward expansion
Increasing gravity of the slavery question
Intensification of the spirit of embattled sectionalism in the South
A powerful impulse to reform the North
Industrial revolution
Creating identity of a young, growing nation
American Romanticism
Characterized by:
As anything in literature, there is no positive definition
Movement in music, painting, and literature inspired by the romantics of 18th century Germany and Britain
Generally a reaction against rationalism (a belief or theory that opinions and actions should be based on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response) and materialism

American Romanticism
Characterized by:
Imagination and escapism
Finding spirituality in nature
Looking to the past for wisdom
Finding a hero in the COMMON man
Authors of Romanticism
Washington Irving
James Fenimore Cooper
William Cullen Bryant
Edgar Allen Poe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Herman Melville
Emily Dickinson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Thomas Cole, The Oxbow
The Hudson River School
Frederic Edwin Church, Niagara Falls
John Frederick Kensett, Mount Washington
A View of the Two Lakes and Mountain House, Catskill Mountains, Morning - Thomas Cole
Asher Brown Durand - The Catskills
LOWELL MASON - Nearer My God To Thee
America's first great creative period
A full flowering of the romantic impulse on American soil.
Period between the "second revolution" of the Jacksonian Era and the end of the Civil War
American Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
seventh President of the United States (1829-1837)
How is Huck Finn a Romantic novel?

Literary, religious, and philosophical movement originating in New England
Comes from the word "Transcend," meaning to be or go beyond the limits.
The philosophy behind transcendentalism was an eclectic mix of English romanticism, antirationality, antipuritanism, and aspects of Eastern philosophies.
Heavily influenced by Immanual Kant's
Critique of Practical Reason
where he defines transcendental as the understanding a person gains intuitively.
Transcendentalism is not a religion in the traditional sense; it is a pragmatic philosophy, state of mind, and form of spirituality.
Transcendentalism describes a simple idea: People, men and women equally, have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that "transcends" what they can see, hear, taste, touch or feel.
They believed that the fundamental truths lie outside the expierence of the senses, residing instead, in the "over-soul......a universal and benign omnipresence." -
Characteristics of Transcendentalism
Belief in the unity of nature and God
Belief in the presence of God in each individual
The potential of perfectibility of humans
Individualism and self-reliance are also important
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Henry David Thoreau
Margaret Fuller
Theodore Parker
Amos Bronson Alcott
Orestes Augustus Brownson
William Ellery Channing
Christopher Pearse Cranch
Transcendentalist Thought
Other Influences......
Influnced by:
The Greek philosopher Plato
The French mathematician Blaise Pascal
The Swedish mystic and scientist Emanuel Swedenborg
The anti-materialism of Buddhist thought


Roughly took place from the end of the civil war to the turn of the century.
Reaction against Romanticism. What does that mean?
Still was much a response to the industrial revolution and changing face of our country
The sweeping economic, social, and political changes that took place in post-war life allowed American Realism to prevail
Let's Be Real
People left rural homes for opportunities in urban cities
United States grew rapidly after the Civil War
The increasing rates of democracy and literacy
The rapid growth in industrialism and urbanization
An expanding population base due to immigration
A relative rise in middle-class affluence
Realism Emerges
"Where romanticists transcend the immediate to find the ideal, and naturalists plumb the actual or superficial to find the scientific laws that control its actions, realists center their attention to a remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence"
A Handbook of Literature
Verisimilitude - the appearance of being true or real.
At its basic level, realism was grounded in the faithful reporting of all facets of everyday American life
According to William Dean Howells, "Realism is nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material"
Basic Tenets
Character is more important than action and plot; complex ethical choices are often the subject.
Renders reality closely and in comprehensive detail.
Class is important; the novel has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of an insurgent middle class
Events will usually be plausible. Realistic novels avoid the sensational, dramatic elements of naturalistic novels and romances.
Diction is the natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic; tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact.
Realists were pragmatic, relativistic, democratic and experimental. The purpose of writing is to instruct and to entertain.
Mark Twain
Henry James
William Dean Howells
Kate Chopin
"Everything that does not appear on the retina is outside the the domain of painting."
Thomas Eakins
Winslow Homer
John Singer Sargent
American Modernism
Driven by the belief that the assurances once provided by religion, politics, or society no longer sufficed.
This beleif intensified after World War I when history itself seemed to be coming to an end
The Great depression only added to this deep sense of loss and destruction
World War I
Destruction beyond belief
Over 300,000 die at the battler of Verdun
20,000 dead in a single day at River Somme
Over 37 million casualties

In 1929 the stock market crashes causing the great depression that lasts through the 30's
Cultural Changes
The rise of socialism directly opposes American Capitalism
Sigmund Freud fathers Psychoanalysis and changes how we see ourselves
1919 prohibition begins ushering in bootlegging and the jazz age
1920 women earn the right to vote
View of the Self
In this period, the chief characteristic of the self is one of alienation. The character belongs to a "lost generation" (Gertrude Stein), suffers from a "dissociation of sensibility" (T. S. Eliot), and who has "a Dream deferred" (Langston Hughes)
Alienation led to an awareness about one's inner life
Modernism reflects the loss of faith in traditional values and beliefs, including the American Dream
Characteristics of modernism:
Stylistic innovations
Artist's self-conscious about questions of form and structure
Obsession with primitive material and attitudes
International perspective on cultural attitudes
Modernists Attitudes
The artist is generally less appreciated but more sensitive, even more heroic, than the average person
The artist challenges tradition and reinvigorates it
A breaking away from patterned responses and predictable forms
As much as they break away they still hold on to the ideal of self-reliance (thank you Emerson...)
Style of writing, usually prose, in which surface appearance is presented in an unembellished way. In contrast to romance or the fantastic, the realist writer also seeks to represent experiences that are usual or typical rather than extraordinary or exotic.
Realism Cont'd
Jack London
Ambrose Bierce
Bret Harte

1940 - present
Postmodernity is characterized by skepticism and rejection, particularly the rejection of cultural progress, and even more so, the implementation of universalizing theories or grand narratives (sometimes called metanarratives).
The issue with grand narratives is that in their effort to generalize, they fail to account for experiences and beliefs that do not fit within their parameters or confines.
Even though the writers most often associated with postmodernism may deal with serious themes, their work often has absurd, playful, or comic aspects, and sometimes makes special use of parody and pastiche and of references to other texts and artifacts.
Postmodernists not only reject grand narratives, but they also embody an "anit-authoritarian" position when approaching and analyzing the world and its cultural productions.In other words, postmodernists distrust any entity or agency that tries to control or regulate what people can or cannot do, and they also distrust any agent or element that tries to fixate the meaning that something possesses (or can ultimately possess).
Even though the writers most often associated with postmodernism may deal with serious themes, their work often has absurd, playful, or comic aspects, and sometimes makes special use of parody and pastiche and of references to other texts and artifacts.
Postmodernism Cont'd
Postmodernism Characteristics
Many modernist works try to uphold the idea that works of art can provide the unity, coherence, and meaning which has been lost in most of modern life; art will do what other human institutions fail to do. Postmodernism, in contrast, doesn't lament the idea of fragmentation, provisionality, or incoherence, but rather celebrates that. The world is meaningless? Let's not pretend that art can make meaning then, let's just play with nonsense.
And this means what....
Topics dealing with the complex absurdity of contemporary life - moral and philosophical relativism, loss of faith in political and moral authority, alienation
Employing black humor, parody, grotesque, absurdity, and travesty
Erasing boundaries between "low" and "high" culture
Lack of a grand narrative
Avoiding traditional closure of themes or situations
Condemning commercialism, hedonism, mass production, and economic globalism
Reality represented through language

: The taking of various ideas from previous writings and literary styles and pasting them together to make new styles.
: The acknowledgment of previous literary works within another literary work.
: The act of writing about writing or making readers aware of the fictional nature of the very fiction they're reading.
Temporal Distortion
: The use of non-linear timelines and narrative techniques in a story.
: The use of characters and events which are decidedly common and non-exceptional characters.
: Disorganized, lengthy, highly detailed writing.
Magical Realism
: The introduction of impossible or unrealistic events into a narrative that is otherwise realistic.
: The mixing of actual historical events with fictional events without clearly defining what is factual and what is fictional.
Reader Involvement
: Often through direct address to the reader and the open acknowledgment of the fictional nature of the events being described.
LIterary Devices in Postmodernism
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