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Transcript of Transcendentalism
Transcendentalism By: Christy Kennedy, Ali Garner, and Emily Wainwright
Mrs. McDaniel Transcendentalism Transcendentalism is an American Literary, political, and philisophical movement of the 19th century. It was centered around a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged from New England.
Transcendentalism first began with the New England Congregationalists. They believed in the importance of human striving and they emphasized the unity rather than the “Trinity” of God. They broke off from Orthodox Calvinism and centered their thoughts on the new era that was at hand. It was a nineteenth century movement associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William Cullen Bryant, Katherine Lee Bates, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It was a small circle of New England educators, religious leaders, and social reformers. The movement started as a daily Boston discussion club, but later grew out to affect many of the lives of Americans. Ralph Waldo Emerson May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882 Ralph Waldo Emerson became a leader in a philosophical movement known as "transcendentalism," which says that truth comes from personal insight. Emerson wrote, "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men—that is genius." Sadly, Emerson's faulty thinking took root, and personal thoughts about God replaced God's thoughts and words about himself. Henry David Thoreau July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862 Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817 and died there in 1862, at the age of forty-four. Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist. Thoreau recoils from the idea that we could find some kind of higher reality by looking beyond nature: in the “Friday” chapter of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, he asks: “Is not Nature, rightly read, that of which she is commonly taken to be the symbol merely?” As he sees it, the realm of spirit is the physical world, which has a sacred meaning that can be directly perceived. Accordingly, he seeks “to be always on the alert to find God in nature”.
*FUN FACT* Ralph Waldo Emerson gave Thoreau a small piece of his land to live on. Another key feature of the movement of transcendentalism was its growing respect and value for the position of women. It was out of transcendentalism that women in the United States would begin to campaign for the vote.Transcendentalists have strong beliefs in the power of the individual and divine messages.
Transcendentalism also embraced a transcendent love of all races, and took up the cause of unjust treatment of Native Americans and slaves.
Not every transcendentalist was concerned in these reforms, but many of them used their instincts to listen to the human nature of essential equality, since we are all as Emerson said “ part or particle of God.” William Cullen Bryant Born: November 3, 1794
Died: June 12, 1878
Education: Williams College William Cullen Bryant lived a long and active life. As a journalist he campaigned vigorously for free speech, free trade, the rights of workman, and the abolition of slavery. He was a radical spokesman for the common people, the laborers and mechanics in the city and the small farmers in the country. As a poet he is an important presence in American literary history as his works mark the birth of American poetry. "Thanatopsis" was the most famous piece of poetry that launched his career as a poet and transcendentalist. Walden's Pond is one of the most famous of his works. It is a difficult book to read for various reasons: it was written by a gifted writer who uses precise diction, extended, allegorical metaphors, long and complex paragraphs and sentences, and vivid, detailed, and insightful descriptions. Thoreau does not hesitate to use metaphors, allusions, understatements, hyperbole, personification, irony, satire, and oxymorons. He can shift from a scientific to a transcendental point of view in mid-sentence.
This is why his works were full of new ideas for transcendentalism. Katharine Lee Bates Born: August 12, 1859
Died: March 28, 1929 She graduated from Wellesley College and went on to become head of its English Literature Department.
Katharine’s legacy to us is her ability to find inspiration in the world around us, her belief in the best of people and her courage to take risks in the fight against the injustices of the world.
She was a woman of her times and for all times. Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after being inspired by the view from Pikes Peak. Oliver Wendell Holmes Born: August 29, 1809Died: October 7, 1894 (aged 85) For his literary achievements and other accomplishments, he was awarded numerous honorary degrees from universities around the nation. Holmes's writing often incorporated his native Boston area, and much of it was meant to be humorous or conversational. Some of his medical writings, notably his 1843 essay regarding the contagiousness of puerperal fever, were considered for their time.
His time was consumed by occasional poetry, or poems written specifically for an event, including many occasions at Harvard.
Holmes also popularized several terms, including "Boston Brahmin" and "anesthesia". His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table (1858) The topics of the poetry discussed range from an essay on the unexpected benefits of old age to the finest place to site a dwelling and comments on the nature of conversation itself. James Russell Lowell Born: February 22, 1819Died: August 12, 1891Education: Harvard Law School, Harvard University, Harvard College The most versatile of the New Englanders during the middle of the nineteenth century, James Russell Lowell was a vital force in the history of American literature and thought during his lifetime.
His range and perspicacity in literary criticism are unequalled in nineteenth-century America. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Born: February 27, 1807
Died: March 24, 1984
Education: Bowdoin College Many of his lines are as familiar to us as rhymes from Mother Goose or the words of nursery songs learned in early childhood. Like these rhymes and melodies, they remain in the memory and accompany us through life.
His poetry included new, and unfamiliar ideas that people wanted to read. They were easy reads that appealed to everyone. There are two main reasons for the popularity and significance of Longfellow's poetry.
First, he had the gift of easy rhyme. He wrote poetry as a bird sings, with natural grace and melody. Read or heard once or twice, his rhyme and meters cling to the mind long after the sense may be forgotten.
Second, Longfellow wrote on obvious themes which appeal to all kinds of people. His poems are easily understood; they sing their way into the consciousness of those who read them. Above all, there is a joyousness in them, a spirit of optimism and faith in the goodness of life which evokes immediate response in the emotions of his readers. He was among the first of American writers to use native themes. He wrote about the American scene and landscape, the American Indian ('Song of Hiawatha'), and American history and tradition ('The Courtship of Miles Standish', 'Evangeline').
At the beginning of the 19th century, America was a stumbling babe as far as a culture of its own was concerned. The people of America had spent their years and their energies in carving a habitation out of the wilderness and in fighting for independence.
Literature, art, and music came mainly from Europe and especially from England. Nothing was considered worthy of attention unless it came from Europe. http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/113775 Timeline of transcendentalism!! Transcendentalism, in fact, really began as a religious movement, an attempt to substitute a Romanticized version of the idea that humankind is capable of direct experience of the holy for the Unitarian rationalist view that the truths of religion are brought by and from historical and natural evidence. Brownson was a philosopher and contemporary of Emerson's, accuses Emerson of "transcendental selfishness": "Are all things in the universe to be held subordinate to the individual soul? Shall a man take himself as the center of the universe, and say all things are for his use, and count them of value only as they contribute something to his growth or well-being?" According to this system, "I am everything; all else is nothing, at least nothing except what it derives from the fact that it is something to me." Controversy... Other activists, such as Orestes Brownson, disagreed with transcendentalism. They believed that it was merely a hoax to get well-known in American literature.