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American Romanticism

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Clifton Pape

on 28 August 2012

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Transcript of American Romanticism

American literature began with the Native Americans. Then the Puritans came and made everything pretty plain. As the people grew tired of being strict religious fanatics, they began to think more reasonably about the world around them. Then, the American literary scene went buck wild. Characteristics of American Romantic Writing The Romantics valued feelings, emotions, and intuition over reason and logic. Remember, each new American literary period is a reaction to that which came before it! The Romantics had faith in the power of inner experience and the imagination. The Romantics saw civilization as artificial and evil, and found peace in unspoiled nature. Cities were seen as centers of sin and corruption! They championed individual freedom and worth of the individual. They reflected on nature’s beauty as a path to spiritual and moral development. The Romantics looked to the past as a more perfect place than the present or the future. Wisdom was to be found there. This is why we "romanticize" the past today! The Romantics believed that the imagination was able to discover truths that the rational mind could not reach. The Romantics found inspiration in myth, legend, folklore, and the supernatural. Poetry was seen as the highest expression of the imagination, and was highly valued as revealing truth. The Romantics valued youthful innocence over educated sophistication (this relates back to the emphasis on emotions over reason) To help remember these characteristics, use the acronym DISNEY. D = Danger and Dreams I = Intuition and Imagination S = Supernatural N = Nature E = Emotions Y = Yesterday Characteristics of the Romantic Hero The hero is young or possesses youthful qualities. The hero is innocent and pure of purpose and heart. The hero has a sense of honor that is not based on society's rules, but on higher principles. The hero loves nature and prefers it to city life. The hero has an understanding of people and life that is deep, intuitive, and not built on formal education. There is often a focus on a journey, usually from a "civilized" area out into the wilderness, where the hero finds moral clarity, independence, and health. party beard The universe is a clock! We live on top of a turtle. So... American Romanticism
1800-1860 God is awesome, but he hates you. Goodbye, you crazy Rationalists! Romanticism, here I come! Wrong kind of romance! James Fenimore Cooper
1789-1851 Jimmy Cooper is considered the father of the Romantic hero (the precursor to today's action hero!) He explored uniquely American characters and settings. Cooper created the first American heroic literary figure - Natty Bumppo! NB was a heroic, virtuous, and skillful frontiersman. He had a simple morality, a love of nature, and a distrust of town life. He also had almost superhuman resourcefullness. A white man raised by Mohawk Indians, NB exemplified the simple purity of Native American life in contrast to the cold cruelty of Western Civilization. You live in this state! Get to de choppa! American Romantic authors are divided into three groups. The Fireside Poets The Transcendentalists The Dark Romantics Romantic poets sought to prove sophistication by working with traditional European poetic literary traditions, rather than creating a unique American voice. They used American settings and subjects, but European themes, meter, and imagery. They were called Fireside or Schoolroom poets because their poetry was often read in family or school settings. Felt that to understand God, the universe, and the self, one must go beyond, or “transcend,” everyday human experience. They believed that true reality was found in ideas, not in experiences perceived through the senses. They sought the permanent reality that underlies physical experience - something they termed the Divine Soul. They were idealisits who believed in human perfectability and worked toward this goal. Henry David Thoreau Ralph Waldo Emerson Were “dark” both in tone and subject matter. Believed strongly in the supernatural – that there was another world just beyond our own senses. Were not as optimistic as other Romantics. They dealt with the darker side of humanity. Believed in the power of the imagination to affect the world around us. Herman Melville Washington Irving Edgar Allan Poe Nathaniel Hawthorne Gothic Literature Poe, in particular, used Gothic elements in his writing. 5 Elements of Gothic Literature Victim is helpless against his attacker. Victimizer associated with evil and possessing supernatural powers. At some point, the story takes place within impenetrable walls. Attempt to create an atmosphere like a crypt. Victim is fascinated by the victimizer’s powers. American Literature
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