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American Renaissance, Transcendentalism

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Dana Linde

on 14 March 2014

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Transcript of American Renaissance, Transcendentalism

American Renaissance, Transcendentalism
19th century movement of writers and philosophers in New England who believed:
essential unity of all creation
humans are essentially good
humanity's deepest truths may be formulated through insight rather than logic
They were also referred to as transcendentalist
What is Transcendentalism?
What is it?
American Renaissance
The movement developed out of efforts by various American writers to formulate a distinctly American literature- that while influenced by great works of European literature- would be also a unique footprint of America's literary history.
Or in other words the era in which American literature is expanding and revolutionizing in literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, music and novels.
Historical Facts/ Events
What was their mindset/values?
Characteristics of Era
Types of Literature Found in the Period
lessons learned?
Focus of Writing/Topics
Era Legacy
Allusions from Era
things we refer to even today...

-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
Major Authors
-Henry David Thoreau
-Nathaniel Hawthorne
-Emily Dickinsen
-Nature (novel), "The American Scholar,” and “Self Reliance”;
-Walden (book)
-"Civil Disobedience" (essay)
-"Rappaccini's Daughter (short story)
-Self Wisdom
Transcendentalism was based on the thought that the average person has self-wisdom and is able to get this knowledge by turning to the flow of nature.
-Nature and its Meaning
as for transcendentalist, the soul was to be inextricably linked to nature. (The search for nature was very important.)
-Social Reforms
transcendentalist were considered visionaries and were involved around issues such as:
social protest
labor reforms
women's rights
elimination of slavery
creative and participatory education for children
Gothic Romance
Detective and horror stories
Sea Tales
Historical Fiction and Colonial America
Progressive Social Problems Tales
-inherent goodness of people
-intuition can lead to knowledge
-individualism and self reliance
-close relationship with nature
- advocated the development of a national culture and efforts at humanitarian social reform
-emphasized in living a simple life
short stories
"Transcendental Club" (1836-1840)
informal group that met to discuss intellectual and religious topics
Transcendental thoughts are universally taught in American literary courses today
The movement began with the occasional meetings of a group of friends in Boston and Concord to discuss philosophy, literature, and religion.
Originally calling themselves the Hedge Club (after one of the members),then they were called the Transcendental Club by outsiders because of their discussion of Kant's “transcendental” ideas.
the advancement of abolitionism
self reliance
And Walden is often required reading as curriculum.
Transcendentalism, essentially, is a form of idealism.
It is better known as the Movement that dramatically shaped the direction of American literature.

Transcendentalists believed one should rely on intuition rather than logic, be self-reliant, and laws should be disobeyed if moral intuition held them to be unjust. Furthermore, moving into nature will allow one to fully connect with God and understand man's place in the universe.
Primary works
-influenced contemporary writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson to Modernist writers like Robert Frost and Allen Ginsberg
-influenced famous leaders, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi who used civil disobedience as a means of protest
On the most basic level, Transcendentalism represented a new way of understanding truth and knowledge. The roots of the philosophy go back to Germany, specifically the writings and theories of Immanuel Kant. Kant concerned himself with the abstractions of existence – those things which cannot be known for sure. He argued that individuals have it in their power to reason for themselves whether a thing be true or not, and how to fit their reasoning into an overall view of the world. Kant set himself apart from those who believed the senses to be perfect measures of reality. He encouraged a healthy level of doubt and skepticism, but not to the point of nihilistic despair. Kant asserted that humans must embrace the fact that some things cannot be known with certainty, no matter how advanced science and technology become.
How did the movement get its name?
...so the word transcend means “to climb over or go beyond”
Scandere is the root which means “to climb”
Trans is the prefix which means “over”
For the transcendentalists, the “what” was the limitations of the senses and of everyday experience.
To go beyond what?
We discover higher truths and insights.
What happens when, by use of intuition, we go beyond everyday human experience?
By depending upon our intuition rather than reason or logic.
How do we go beyond our everyday experiences?
Intuition, as Emerson called the "highest power of the Soul," is a power that "never reasons, never proves, it simply perceives....."
-Edgar Allan Poe
-"The Fall of the House of Usher" (short story)
-Washington Irving
-"The Devil and Tom Walker" (short story)
Three forms came out of this renaissance which is also called the Romantic literary period: Light Romanticism, Dark Romanticism and Transcendentalism.
Renaissance means "rebirth"
-1800 original poems
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