The Romantic Period of American Literature

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Last updated: May 16, 2019


Romantic Period

Rebirth of the American Renaissance Period

America celebrates
America celebrates the spirit of the individual unlike Purtitans (conformity)

“America needed a new and bold poetry to reflect her independence”
Walt Whitman

Major thinkers and writers
Believed that humans were born good, able to be perfected

Romantic fiction
Portrayed “glories of the individual spirit, the emotions and the imagination as basic elements of human nature”

Was both celebrated and encouraged

Introduced Americans to the philosophy of transcendentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The idea that intuition transcends reason and experience

Transcendatlist beliefs
Believed God was everywher in nature and therefore man could worship and revere nature

Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville
Dark romantics

Dark romantics beliefs
Believed in man’s goodness, but knew man is cappable of immorality, and is shaped by his environment

Nonfiction writers
Were the transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreu

Optimistic in view of man’s destiny, didn’t write mans capacity for evil
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau

Major poets
Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman

Instruments in shaping poetry
Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman

America’s first symbolic novel
The Scarlet Letter (1850)

Captain Ahab’s obsession with revenge
Moby Dick (1851)

Where Henry David Thoreau experiments in “essential living”
On the shores of Walden Pond (1854)

Walt Whitman’s 1st collection of poetry
Leaves of Grass (1855)

Theme of Leaves of Grass
Parallels the freedom and non-conformity of the rebellious, adventurous, new country

Wrote nonfiction books and poetry, philosopher, essayist
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Born in 1803 in Boston, Massacusetts
Ralph Waldo Emerson

8th generation Unitarion minister
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Went to Harvard at the age of 14 and graduated at 18
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Went to Harvard Divinity School to study theology
Ralph Waldo Emerson

1 of 5 boys, father died at a young age
Ralph Waldo Emerson

During his mid 20’s his wife dies of TB after 18 months together
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Why Emerson left the pulpit
His wife died of TBHe thought the religion was too Orthodox

Travels around Europe for a year
Ralph Waldo Emerson

What Emerson did in Europe
Studied and learned under great philosophers and poets

Stayed in Concord
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Marrys Lydia Jackson and has 4 children
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Was asked to speak at Harvard
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1849)

What Emerson says to Harvard’s graduating class of divinty students
“Preach as though God were alive and not dead”

Died of natural causes in 1882
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Founded an experimental column called Brook Farm
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Name of Brook Farm’s monthly publication
The Dial

Wrote Self-Reliance and Nature
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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