American Romanticism - World Lit 2018-09-10آ  American Romantic Poetry •The Fireside Poets, a Boston

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  • American Romanticism

    1800 - 1860

  • Historical Background

    • Optimism o Successful revolt against English rule o Room to grow

    • Frontier o Vast expanse o Freedom o No geographic limitations

  • Historical Background

    • Experimentation o Science o Social institutions

    • Immigration

    • Industrialization o Differences between North and South grow

    (agricultural v. industrial economies)

  • The Arts

    • Romanticism was a movement across all the arts: visual art, music, and literature.

    • All of the arts embraced themes prevalent in the Middle Ages: chivalry, courtly love.

    • Shakespeare came back into popularity.

  • Visual Arts: Examples

    Neoclassical Art

    Romantic Art

  • Introduction

    • The theme of journey as a declaration of independence

    • Washington Irving is the Father of American Literature

    • James Fenimore Cooper is the Father of the American novel

    • Edgar Allan Poe is the inventor of the American Short Story

  • Introduction

    • The rationalistic view of urban life was replaced by the Romantic view

    • Rationalists saw cities as a place to find success and self-realization

    • Romantics saw the city as a place of moral corruption, poverty, and death

  • Introduction

    • The Romantic journey is to the countryside • The Romantics associated the country with

    independence, moral clarity, and purity • The Gothic Romantic, Edgar Allan Poe, saw the

    country as a place of phantasm (a creation of the imagination or fancy; fantasy)

    • Washington Irving saw the country as idyllic and as an escape

  • The Romantic Sensibility

    • Romanticism: valuing feeling and intuition over reason

    • Romanticism: viewing life as we would like it to be, rather than how it really is

    • Romanticism began in Germany and influenced literature, music, and art

    • Romanticism is a reaction against Rationalism

  • The Romantic Sensibility

    • The development of slums and poverty due to the Industrial Revolution turned people from Rationalism

    • Romantics believed that imagination, emotion, spontaneity, feelings, and nature were more important than rational thought

  • Characteristics • The Five I’s

    • Imagination

    • Intuition

    • Idealism

    • Inspiration

    • Individuality

  • Characteristics of Romanticism

    • values feelings over intuition • values the power of the imagination • seeks the beauty of unspoiled nature • values youthful innocence • values individual freedom • values the lessons of the past • finds beauty in exotic locales, the supernatural, and in

    the imagination • values poetry as the highest expression of the

    imagination • values myth, legend, and folk culture

  • Subject Matter

    • Quest for beauty

    • Escape from daily troubles

    • Journey to freedom, represented in nature as opposed to the oppressive city

    • Use of far-away, imaginative settings

    • Supernatural, myth, legend & folklore

  • Literary Techniques

    • Remote settings

    • Improbable plots

    • Experimentation in new forms of writing

  • Romantic Escapism

    • Romantic writing looked for comforting or exotic settings from the past

    • This was found in the supernatural, in nature, and/or in folk legends

    • Romantics believed in contemplating, or becoming one with the natural world

  • Romantic Escapism – Gothic

    • The Gothic novel had wild, haunted landscapes • It had supernatural events in the plot • It was often mysterious • The Gothic concept had roots in France,

    Germany, and England • Edgar Allan Poe was Romanticism’s great

    American writer

  • Romantic Escapism

    • Romanticism also used lyrical poetry as a means to contemplate the beauty of nature

    • It focused on simple, natural beauties • Its intent was to seek truth through a calm

    contemplation of a simple, natural beauty • Romantics saw God in this contemplation

  • The New American Novel

    Westward expansion, the growth of a nationalist spirit, and the rapid spread of cities reinforced the idealization of frontier life.

    James Fenimore Cooper- The Leatherstocking tales • Uniquely American settings • Frontier communities • American Indians • Wilderness of western New York and Pennsylvania

    • First American heroic figure: Natty Bumppo (American Romantic Hero) • “Forefather” to pop culture heroes such as the Lone Ranger,

    Superman, Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, etc.

  • The New American Hero

    American Romantic literature created this unique person: • he was youthful • he was innocent • he was intuitive • he was one with nature • he was a loner – uneasy around women • he was handsome • he was brave • he was moral and honorable

  • American Romantic Poetry

    • Most Romantic poets worked within conventional European literary structures

    • They proved that American poetry could reflect American subject matter, yet still hold to conventional poetic style

    • Most American Romantic poets wrote about the past

  • American Romantic Poetry

    • The Fireside Poets, a Boston group of Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, and Lowell, were widely read and loved in America

    • They were the TV of the American Romantic period, and families gathered around the fireside to be entertained by their poetry

    • Their subject matter was comfortable and instructional

  • Romantic Poets

    • William Cullen Bryant o Thanatopsis

    • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow o The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls

    o The Cross of Snow

    • Oliver Wendell Holmes o The Chambered Nautilus

  • Romantic Poets

    • Emily Dickinson o Heart! We will forget him! o Some keep the Sabbath going to Church o Tell all the Truth but tell it slant

    • Walt Whitman o I Hear America Singing o Song of Myself

  • Sub-Movements of Romanticism

    1. Gothicism

    • Edgar Allan Poe o The Fall of the House of Usher o The Raven o The Masque of the Red Death

    • Nathaniel Hawthorne o The Minister’s Black Veil

  • Gothic/Dark Romanticism  The Gothic flourished in the Romantic period as a reaction against the growing

    dominance of rationalism but it has continued as a genre that articulates what reason

    ignores.

     Gothic - The term has come to signify a work usually set in the past and which provides a frightening environment – usually consisting of corridors and hidden places where

    terror lurks in the night.

    Not exactly what Poe had in mind!

  • 2. Transcendentalism

    • Liberation from understanding and the “cultivation of reasoning.”

    • “Transcend” the limits of intellect and allow the emotions, the SOUL, to create an original relationship with the Universe.

    • The “Over-soul” - the bridge, or the unifier, that connects man, nature, and God

  • Transcendentalist Thinking • Man must acknowledge a body of moral truths that

    were intuitive and must TRANSCEND (go above and beyond) more sensational proof of: o The infinite goodness of God. o The infinite goodness of nature. o The divinity of man.

    • They instinctively rejected all secular (non- religious) authority and the authority of organized churches and the Scriptures, of law, or of conventions

  • Transcendentalism

    • Transcendentalists called for an independence from organized religion; they saw no need for any intervention between God and man.

    • Divinity is self-contained, and internalized in every being.

    • The chief aim is to become fully aware not only of what our senses record, but also to recognize the ability of our intuition (inner voice) to interpret what we sense.

  • Transcendentalism

    • Therefore, if man was divine, it would be wicked that he should be held in slavery, or his soul corrupted by superstition, or his mind clouded by ignorance!!

  • The Transcendentalist Agenda

    • Give freedom to the slave. • Give well-being to the poor and the

    miserable. • Give learning to the ignorant. • Give health to the sick. • Give peace and justice to society.

    They were a bunch of Hippies!

  • Transcendentalist Writers

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Henry David Thoreau

    Nature (1832)

    Walden (1854)

    Resistance to Civil Disobedience

    (1849)

    Self-Reliance (1841)

    “The American Scholar” (1837)

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