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The Romantic Period/Romanticism: British and American Litera

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Gabriella Dweck

on 16 October 2014

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Transcript of The Romantic Period/Romanticism: British and American Litera

Historical/Societal events
American Romanticism
What is Romanticism?
British Romanticism
Differences Between British and American Romanticism
American Romanticism developed later than British Romanticism and had a stronger emphasis on humanitarianism and reformation. Due to America's democratic government when compared to Britain's monarchical government, American Romanticism embodied more egalitarian ideals than that of British Romanticism.
Well Known Authors
George Gordon Byron, who is usually referred to as Lord Byron, was a prominent British writer, most famous for the influence of his poetry on the romantic movement that originated in the eighteenth century.Byron was indeed involved in his work in such a way that it is often said that there was no difference between the man and his writing. Fairly early in his career he would often show how much he despised British society, which he considered hypocritical, as well as the English climate, which he found too rainy. He would launch the Romantic period and school of thought of English literature with their Lyrical Ballads first published in 1798. Wordsworth’s masterpiece, however, would be his largely autobiographical poem entitled The Prelude (1850), which focused on the formative experiences of his youth.It would appear it is a man who speaks to humans, who conveys to them a special kind of message. In this way, for Wordsworth the poet becomes an exceptional being, gifted with extraordinary sensitivity, with a power of enthusiasm as well as a love and knowledge of human nature.
Well Known Authors
Emerson worries in "The American Scholar" about imitation/parroting. He looks inward to find divine essence, which he claims we all share in common.
Thoreau isolates/purifies himself at Walden pond.
Poe habitually portrays aristocratic, hyper-sensitive madmen in gothic enclosures.
Melville invents Ahab, a captain of a fishing boat, with a Homer-like or Shakespearean grandeur.
Emily Dickinson does not go "public" by publishing her verse.
Whitman embraces the democratic masses, yet calls his major poem “Song of Myself”.

The Romantic Period/Romanticism: British and American Literature
By Gabriella Dweck
Alana Morris and Ashley Mujares

Romanticism can be interpreted many different ways and historians and literary fanatics alike have yet to agree upon a single meaning of the word or movement. The Romantic movement was a shift from enlightenment thinking to emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and individuality. The Romantic movement had a profound impact on both American and British literature.
Romanticism: a movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that marked the reaction in literature, philosophy, art, religion, and politics from the neoclassicism and formal orthodoxy of the preceding period.
Historical/Societal events
Frontier promised opportunity for expansion, growth, freedom
Spirit of optimism invoked by the promise of an uncharted frontier.
Immigration brought new cultures and perspectives.
Growth of industry in the north that further polarized the north and the agrarian south.
Search for new spiritual roots.
Because of the historical events during the romanticism period the literary themes were...
Highly imaginative and subjective
Emotional intensity
Common man as hero
Nature as refuge, source of knowledge and/or spirituality
Characters and setting set apart from society; characters were not of our own conscious kind
Static characters--no development shown
Characterization--work proves the characters are what the narrator has stated or shown
Universe is mysterious; irrational; incomprehensible
Gaps in causality
Formal language
Good receive justice; nature can also punish or reward
Silences of the text--universals rather than learned truths
Plot arranged around crisis moments; plot is important
Plot demonstrates: romantic love, honor and integrity, and idealism of self
Supernatural foreshadowing (dreams, visions)
Description provides a "feeling" of the scene
Romanticism: a movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that marked the reaction in literature, philosophy, art, religion, and politics from the neoclassicism and formal orthodoxy of the preceding period. Note British and American Romanticism can be defined the same way.
England at this time was transforming from a primarily agricultural nation to one focused on manufacture, trade, and industry.
Revolutions outside of England’s borders had considerable impact within those borders, including the revolutions in America and in France.
While many English people initially supported revolutionary efforts like those in France, just as many came to abhor the violent tyrannies that followed. The Reign of Terror that followed the French Revolution is a primary example.

British history continued...
Early efforts to abolish slavery met with little success. Often, those in power saw the granting of widespread freedoms as the prelude to violent uprising.
England at this time was often described in terms of “Two Nations”: (1) the rich and privileged who owned the nation’s burgeoning means of industrial production, and (2) the poor and powerless who were more and more forced from agricultural roots to life in industrial cities. Of course, it is this latter group upon which the Industrial Revolution depended, though it is the former group who benefitted.
The word “shopping” entered English vocabulary at this time, reflecting society’s newfound love for buying the goods that imperial colonization and industry could produce.
Women authors, though they did not enjoy anything like social equality with their male counterparts, did at least enjoy greater prominence and wider readership than had previously been the case. The term “bluestocking” was often used to describe a certain class of educated women writers and intellectuals.
Because of these historical events during the British romanticism period the literary themes were...
Art, as the product of individual creation, is highly prized.
Nature, rural life, and pastoral imagery make common subjects for poetry.
Individual achievements are highly prized. This notion applies both to actual people (artists, writers, military heroes, explorers, etc.) and also to fictional characters. This tendency produces the notion of the “romantic hero” and the “Byronic hero” (see below).
Many Romantic writers, especially the poets, believed all people, regardless of wealth or social class, should be able to appreciate art and literature, and artists should create art or literature accessible to everyone. (Their success in this endeavor is debatable.)
The Romantics tended to define and to present the imagination as our ultimate "shaping" or creative power, the approximate human equivalent of the creative powers of nature or even deity. It is dynamic, an active, rather than passive power, with many functions.
"Nature" meant many things to the Romantics. As suggested above, it was often presented as itself a work of art, constructed by a divine imagination, in emblematic language.
Symbolism and myth were given great prominence in the Romantic conception of art. In the Romantic view, symbols were the human aesthetic correlatives of nature's emblematic language.
Emphasis on the activity of the imagination was accompanied by greater emphasis on the importance of intuition, instincts, and feelings, and Romantics generally called for greater attention to the emotions as a necessary supplement to purely logical reason.
The Romantics asserted the importance of the individual, the unique, even the eccentric.
In style, the Romantics preferred boldness over the preceding age's desire for restraint, maximum suggestiveness over the neoclassical ideal of clarity, free experimentation over the "rules" of composition, genre, and decorum, and they promoted the conception of the artist as "inspired" creator over that of the artist as "maker" or technical master.
Poetry Moment
The poem we chose to present is a piece representative of British Romanticism titled "Jerusalem" by William Blake. This piece is a culmination of characteristics of British Romanticism as it embodies the classic characteristics of British Romanticism and contains countless allusions, myths, symbols, nature imagery, and bold ideas, as well as challenging belie
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