Early American Romanticism Another Change in Our Thinking? o Ben Franklin v. Arthur Mervyn: Showdown in Early America o Journey into the city (“civilization”) o Franklin: “independence, prosperity, and commerce” o Mervyn (C.B. Brown): “decay, corruption, and evil” o What caused these varied perspectives? Romanticism: Location, Location, Location o City: corruption, greed, death, moral ambiguity o Countryside: health, moral certainty o Frontier: Endless possibility and potential o “In nineteenth century America, this geography of the imagination – town, country, frontier – played a powerful role in American literature and life…” (116) America: No Longer About the Benjamin (Franklin) o Ben Franklin v. Rip Van Winkle: Antithetical figures; both have mythical/symbolic qualities o Freedom is relative (Franklin found it in “civilization”; Van Winkle found it in nature) o Question: At this point, do Americans want to be more like Rip or more like Franklin? Tenets of American Romanticism oA distrust of “civilization” oA nostalgia for the past oA concern with individual freedom oAn interest in the supernatural oA profound love for the beauties of the natural landscape Romanticism: Something Borrowed o Origins in Europe (go figure) o Strong influence on music, literature, and painting o Rational thinking is inferior to the imagination o The Age of “What if?” o “The Romantics believed that the imagination was able to discover truths that reason could not reach…” (119) – Example of this? An Important Tip: Romantic = Romance Faith and Romanticism o Puritans and Romantics found divinity in nature o A great deal of Romantic poetry focused on “the contemplation of the natural world” (119) o “Romantics found in nature a far less clearly defined divinity…[a generalized] emotional and intellectual awakening” (119). Romantic Heroes: No Cape Required o Youth (or childlike qualities) o Innocence o A love of nature/distrust of town life o A corresponding uneasiness with women o The need to engage in a quest for some higher truth in the natural world o Examples? The “Fireside Poets” o Longfellow, Holmes, Whittier o Works appealed to “the ordinary, literate man or woman” o Subject matter focused on love, patriotism, nature, family, God, and religion o “Their attempts to create a new American literature relied too reverently on the literature of the past” (122) Questions?