American Romanticism Online Lesson Definitions from A Handbook to Literature, Sixth Edition C. Hugh Holman and William Harmon. Romanticism: a movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth attitudes (the expressive theory of criticism) and valuing its centuries that marked the reaction in literature, philosophy, art, fidelity in portraying experiences, however fragmentary and religion, and politics from the neoclassicism and formal incomplete, more than it values adherence to completeness, orthodoxy of the preceding period. Romanticism arose so unity, or the demands of genre. Although romanticism tends at gradually and exhibited so many phases that a satisfactory times to regard nature as alien, it more often sees in nature a definition is not possible. The aspect most stressed in France revelation of Truth, the "living garment of God," and a more is reflected in Victor Hugo's phrase "liberalism in literature," suitable subject for art than those aspects of the world sullied meaning especially the freeing of the artist and writer from by artifice. Romanticism seeks to find the Absolute, the Ideal, restrains and rules and suggesting that phase of individualism by transcending the actual, whereas realism finds its values in marked by the encouragement of revolutionary political ideas. the actual and naturalism in the scientific laws. The poet Heine noted the chief aspect of German romanticism in calling it the revival of medievalism in art, letters, and life. Romantic Period in American Literature, 1830-1865. Walter Pater thought the addition of estrangement to beauty The period between the "second revolution" of the Jacksonian (the neoclassicists having insisted on order in beauty) Era and the close of the Civil War in America saw the testings constituted the romantic temper. An interesting schematic of a nation and its development by ordeal. It was an age of explanation calls romanticism the predominance of imagination great westward expansion, of the increasing gravity of the over reason and formal rules (classicism) and over the sense slavery question, of an intensification of the spirit of embattled of fact or the actual (realism), a formula that recalls Hazlitt's sectionalism in the South, and of a powerful impulse to reform statement (1816) that the class beauty of a Greek temple in the North. Its culminating act was the trial by arms of the resided chiefly in its actual form and its obvious connotations, opposing views in a civil war, whose conclusion certified the whereas the "romantic" beauty of a Gothic building or ruin fact of a united nation dedicated to the concepts of industry arose from associated ideas that the imagination was and capitalism and philosophically committed to egalitarianism. stimulated to conjure up. The term is used in many senses, a In a sense it may be said that the three decades following the recent favorite being that which sees in the romantic mood a inauguration of President Andrew Jackson in 1829 put to the psychological desire to escape from unpleasant realities. test his views of democracy and saw emerge from the test a Perhaps more useful to the student than definitions will be a secure union committed to essentially Jacksonian principles. list of romantic characteristics, though romanticism was not a In literature it was America's first great creative period, a full clearly conceived system. Among the aspects of the romantic flowering of the romantic impulse on American soil. Surviving movement in England may be listed: sensibility; primitivism; form the Federalist Age were its three major literary figures: love of nature; sympathetic interest in the past, especially the Bryant, Irving, and Cooper. Emerging as new writers of medieval; mysticism; individualism; romanticism criticism; and strength and creative power were the novelists Hawthorne, a reaction against whatever characterized neoclassicism. Simms, Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe; the poets Poe, Among the specific characteristics embraced by these general Whittier, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Dickinson, and Whitman; attitudes are: the abandonment of the heroic couplet in favor of the essayists Thoreau, Emerson, and Holmes; the critics Poe, blank verse, the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, and many Lowell, and Simms.... experimental verse forms; the dropping of the conventional The poetry was predominantly romantic in spirit and form. poetic diction in favor of fresher language and bolder figures; Moral qualities were significantly present in the verse of the idealization of rural life (Goldsmith); enthusiasm for the Emerson, Bryant, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, and wild, irregular, or grotesque in nature and art; unrestrained Thoreau. The sectional issues were debated in poetry by imagination; enthusiasm for the uncivilized or "natural"; interest Whittier and Lowell speaking for abolition, and Timrod, Hayne, in human rights (Burns, Byron); sympathy with animal life and Simms speaking for the South. Poe formulated his (Cowper); sentimental melancholy (Gray); emotional theories of poetry and in some fifty lyrics practiced a symbolist psychology in fiction (Richardson); collection and imitation of verse that was to be, despite the change of triviality by such popular ballads (Percy, Scott); interest in ancient Celtic and contemporaries as Emerson, the strongest single poetic Scandinavian mythology and literature ; renewed interest in influence emerging from pre-Civil War America, particularly in Spenser, Shakespeare, and Milton. Typical literary forms its impact on European poetry....Whitman, beginning with the include the lyric, especially the love lyric, the reflective lyric, the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, was the ultimate expression nature lyric, and the lyric of morbid melancholy...;the of a poetry organic in form and romantic in spirit, united to a sentimental novel; the metrical romance; the sentimental concept of democracy that was pervasively egalitarian. comedy; the ballad; the problem novel; the historical novel; the In essays and in lectures the New England transcendentalists-Gothic romance; the sonnet; and the critical essay.... Emerson, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Alcott--carried the The term designates a literary and philosophical theory that expression of philosophic and religious ideas to a high tends to see the individual at the center of all life, and it places level....In the 1850s emerged the powerful symbolic novels of the individual, therefore, at the center of art, making literature Hawthorne and Melville and the effective propaganda novel of valuable as an expression of unique feelings and particular Harriet Beecher Stowe. Poe, Hawthorne, and Simms practiced the writing of short stories through the period, taking up where Irving had left off in the development of the form…. At the end of the Civil War a new nation had been born, and it was to demand and receive a new literature less idealistic and more practical, less exalted and more earthy, less consciously Major Characteristics of Romanticism Valuing Nature for itself (not merely as a commodity); The notion of Divinity in Nature; Childhood and youth as divine and unfallen; The importance of solitude; Individualism; Freedom of the individual; Focus on heroes or protagonists with exemplary qualities/ or in extraordinary circumstances; Nostalgia for the remote past; Interest in exotic or remote settings; Celebration of (a) simpler agrarian/ wilderness life, (b) the strong, individualized frontiersman, and (c) primitivism or "the noble savage"; The notion that the natural world and human concerns are intertwined, and the idea that nature sympathizes with human concerns; artistic and more honest than that produced in the age when the American dream had glowed with greatest intensity and American writers had made a great literary period by capturing on their pages the enthusiasm and the optimism of that dream. Interest in the sublime (in which the individual is dwarfed by larger powers); The value of story, or narrative, or poetry, or fiction for its own sake; Pleasure in the supernatural, the fictional, the unreal; Focus on emotions, introspection, melancholy; Fascination with dreams, myths, mystery, the unexplainable or the irrational; Valuing the imagination; The value of romantic indolence or idleness; Horror over institutions (slavery, factory labor) that seem to dehumanize; Belief in the Divinity or the capacity for Divinity in humans; Against conventionality, rules, and conformity; Interest in binaries, doubles, and opposites. Literary Romanticism often uses binaries, including opposing figures and/or doubles: light v. shadow, good and evil, fair and dark, sunshine v. storm, youth and age, human and animal, wild or savage v. civilized, mirth and sadness, sanity and madness, attraction v. repulsion, night and day sunlight v. moonlight purity v. defilement, nature v. culture, beauty and ugliness, desire and horror, pleasure and pain, fiction v. truth, natural v. un-natural... Additional Information Characterized by the 5 I’s 1) Imagination 2) Intuition 3) Idealism 4) Inspiration 5) Individuality Imagination Imagination was emphasized over “reason.” This was a backlash against the rationalism that plagued the Age of Reason. Imagination was necessary for creating all art. British writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge called in intellectual intuition. Intuition Romantics placed value on intuition or feeling and instincts over reason. Emotions are important in Romantic art. British Romantic William Wordsworth described poetry as, the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. Idealism Idealism is the concept that we can make the world a better place. Refers to any theory that emphasizes the spirit, the mind, or language over matter– thought has a crucial role in making the world how it is. Immanuel Kant: German Philospher Inspiration The Romantic artist, musician, or writer is an inspired creator not a technical master. Going with the moment or being spontaneous is more important than getting it right. Individuality This time period celebrates the individual. Women’s Rights and Abolitionism begin to take root during this time period. American Poet Walt Whitman later writes, Song of Myself; the first line begins with, “I celebrate myself…” American Romanticism Focused on literature Explored supernatural and gothic* themes Writers wrote about nature – Romantics believed God was in nature, unlike “Age of Reason” writers like Franklin and Jefferson, who saw God as a “divine watchmaker,” who created the universe and left it to run itself. Gothic Romanticism Rejects the ideal of balance and rationalism Focuses on the dark, gritty aspects of life and society Heavy use of hysteria, mystical happenings, terrified characters, death, destruction, ghosts, horror All stem from the writer’s fascinations with the human psyche.