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American Romanticism

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Lisa Cook

on 23 October 2018

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Transcript of American Romanticism

How Romantic!
A brief look at the Romanticism movement of the 1800's

Romanticism refers to a movement in art, literature, and music during the 19th
The Romantic Movement was seen as a golden age, an American renaissance
where literature flourished and became truly
Britain had always had such a strong literary tradition - America authors began
to wonder if American literature would
ever be able to compare
Overwhelmingly, the answer was yes, and American authors began producing works
that would define American literature as a force to be reckoned with
Romanticism is characterized by the 5 “I”s
Romantics placed a higher value on intuition that on reason
Emotions were an important part of art and literature
British Romantic William Wordsworth described poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”
The belief that man can make the world a better place
Romantics were optimistic and chose to view the world in its best form
Romantics valued the spirit over the mind
The Romantic artist, musician or writer is an inspired creator rather than a technical master
This meant "going with the flow," getting lost in the moment, and being spontaneous
There was no such thing as "getting it right"
Romantics celebrated the individual
During this time, Women's Rights and Abolitionism were taking root as major movements
Walt Whitman, a later Romantic poet wrote "Song of Myself" which begins "I celebrate myself..."
The Origins of Romanticism
Romanticism began to take root as a movement after the French Revolution
The publication of Lyrical Ballads by English poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1792 is considered the beginning of literary Romanticism
Romantic Art
Romanticism was a movement across all forms of art: visual art, music, and literature.
All of the arts embraced themes prevalent in the Middle Ages: chivalry, courtly love.
Shakespeare came back into vogue.
Romanticism in Visual Arts
Romantic art was emotional, deeply felt, individualistic, and exotic
It has been described as a reaction to Neoclassicism, or “anti-Classicism”
Visual Arts in the time before Romanticism...
Directly before Romanticism was Neo-Classicism
It was harsh, rigid, severe unemotional
It harkened back to ancient Greek and Roman traditions
The Death of Socrates, 1787
Jacques-Louis David
An example of Neo-classical art...
Music before the Romantic Movement
Classical music emphasized internal order and balance
Classical musicians included composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Josef Haydn
Romantic music emphasized expression of feelings
Romantic musicians included composers like Frederic Chopin, Franz Lizst, Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky
Romanticism in Music
Though Romanticism stretched across all forms of artistic expression, in America, it was most deeply felt in literature
Before Romanticism came Puritanism and Rationalism, and while there was a lot of writing produced, very little of that writing was fictional
Some common themes of Romantic Literature
Most Romantic literature can be seen as a journey, a flight both FROM something and TO something
During Rationalism, cities were seen as centers of progress, success and self-realization
During Romanticism, cities were seen as places of congestion, corruption and moral ambiguity
Romantics sought to return to a simpler time and praised natural settings over urban ones
The Industrial Revolution led to overcrowded, dirty, squalid cities.
Romantics sought an escape to the more natural, peaceful, sublime setting of nature
"Sublime" is a word you will hear often in Romantic literature
"The sublime" or "sublime" (noun and adjective forms) referred to anything awe or terror inspiring
It was deeply connected with nature.
If you stood at the edge of a great cliff looking down into a beautiful valley, knowing you could plummet to your death at any moment, but you could still feel the wonder of the beauty and magnitude of nature all around you - you were experiencing the sublime
Romantics looked to nature for inspiration, especially when it came to lyrical poetry
By admiring the simple beauty of nature, one could be brought to a deeper more essential form of truth
Romantics could make an emotional connection through nature
There was also an emphasis on the past and folk lore as sources of inspiration
American Romantic Poetry
Early Romantic Poetry -
The Fireside Poets
The Fireside Poets were
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
John Greenleaf Whittier
William Cullen Bryant
Oliver Wendell Holmes
James Russell Lowell
They were called "The Fireside Poets" because their poems would often be read aloud by families as they sat by their firesides at night
They were incredibly popular
Their subject matter was common (love, patriotism, nature, family, God, religion) and their style was ordinary, even preachy sometimes
They wrote "pretty" poems and were very conservative in their messages
However, by the middle of the century, American poetry was about to change drastically
American Romantic Poetry
Early Romantic poets imitated traditional English style and themes, however later Romantic poets began innovating a completely different and unique style
Early Romantic poets imitated traditional English styles, however, later Romantic poets began using incredibly unique styles
Imagination was emphasized over “reason”
This was a backlash against the rationalism of the “Age of Reason”
Imagination was considered necessary for creating all art.
British writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge called it “intellectual intuition.”
Early Romantic poets imitated traditional English themes and styles
Later Romantic poets were creating new and innovative styles all their own
While early American poets tended to imitate English traditions, American novelists did exactly the opposite
American novelists found themselves with a world of possibilities in the new American landscape
America was a brand-new frontier with limitless possibilities - something Europe was not
The development of the American novel coincided with westward expansion
Frontier life and new, unexplored wildernesses became highly idealized
A new type of novel meant a new type of hero
At the time, most Europeans viewed Americans as unsophisticated and uncivilized
Rationalists like Benjamin Franklin did all they could to try to dispel these ideas and stereotypes

American novelists did all they could to perpetuate them
Turning these insults on their heads, American novelists argued that there was virtue in American innocence, not in European sophistication
They argued that eternal truths were found in the wilderness, not in musty European libraries
Characteristics of the American Hero:
Young or possesses youthful qualities
Is innocent and pure of purpose
Has an internal sense of honor, not one based on society's rules
Loves nature and avoids town life
Quests for some higher truth in the natural world
Think cowboys!
Think astronauts!
Think Indiana Jones!

These are still the values we admire in our heroes today...
American heroes played by their own rules and got their hands dirty fighting for what they believed in!
The End!
Later Romantic poets, like Walt Whitman and
Emily Dickinson, were all about NEW and
inventive expressions of poetry.

They used unconventional styles to forge a uniquely
American poetic voice.
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