The American Renaissance and Transcendentalism 1829-1861

The American Renaissance and Transcendentalism 1829-1861
The American renaissance was a burst of energy for America: a growing
population, westward expansion, optimism for the future, and industry. During this
time, reform movements sprang up: women’s rights, education, abolitionism etc…
As the Civil War approached optimism declined.
Transcendentalism: a philosophical movement confined mostly to Massachusetts.
Transcendentalists believed that there is something existing within man himself that
transcends the human experience: man’s intuition is a particle of the divinity within
him. It is possible for man to transcend the world of human experience by
discovering and relying on the divinity within himself. The basic truths of the
world lie beyond what we perceive with our senses, and thus, we can liberate our
spirit. Transcendentalism arose out of the younger generation’s dissatisfaction with
the Calvinist church.
Transcendentalist Beliefs
1. Man is divine in his own right.
2. Man rises above reason and logic
3. God reveals himself through nature
4. There is dignity in manual labor
5. Belief in plain living and high thinking
6. Man’s relationship to God is a personal matter.
7. Trust your instincts and intuition
8. The human spirit progresses through history
9. Man can become one with God.
Self reliance
Be skeptical of institutions (no fraternities)
Trans writers: Emily Dickinson, H.D. Thoreau, R.W. Emerson.
ANTI Trans Writers: E.A. Poe, Nate Hawthorne, H. Melville.