Power Point

American Romantics
 1776 the colonies declare independence
 1803 the Louisiana Purchase;
opens up the frontier.
 “War of 1812” against Britain; opens
more land for resettlement.
 1820 Westward expansion in full swing.
 1840s California gold-rush
Romantic philosophy
 Emphasis on the individual
 Writing examines inner feelings and
emotions of the individual
 Recognize personal intuition and
imagination over reason
 Tired of reason and logic
 Focus on common people, their lives &
 Writing about frontier and experiences with
Romantic Literature
 City/civilization represents moral
ambiguity, corruption, death.
 Countryside represents independence,
moral certainty, and health.
 Romantic hero: young, innocent, lover of
nature, distrusts town-life, uneasy with
 Originated with German romantic philosopher
Immanuel Kant.
 Definition: spirituality achieved through
meditation and a close relationship with nature.
 Disgust for conformity and praised individuality
 Search for the inner self through supernatural
forces—transcend “normal” human
experiences—optimistic about human nature
 Criticized materialism and “get ahead” work
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 Optimist view of God: “God is good, and
God works through nature.”
 Defined himself as a poet.
 Essays are a collection of memorable
sentences rather than organized thoughts.
 “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that
iron string.”
 Primary works: Nature, Self-Reliance
Henry David Thoreau
 Lived at Walden Pond for 3 years
(1842-45) “I went to the woods to live
deliberately, to front only the essential facts of
life, and see if I could not learn what it had to
teach, and not, when I came to die, discover
that I had not lived.”
 Major works: Walden and “Civil Disobedience”
 Definition: Emphasis on the dark side of
an individual and his reactions to the
 Pessimistic about human nature:
searched human emotions, human
actions, human motives, and human
capacity for evil.
Gothic Authors
 Writing examines the deterioration of the heart
under conditions of fear, greed, vanity,
mistrust, and betrayal.
 Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
 The Scarlet Letter, “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,”
“The Minister’s Black Veil,” etc.
 William Faulkner (1897-1962)
 “Spotted Horses,” “Absalom! Absalom!” “The Sound and
the Fury,” “As I Lay Dying,” “A Rose for Emily”
 Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)
 “The Life You Save May Be Your Own,”
Gothic Authors
 Edgar Allen Poe:
 Writing deals with the terror of the soul and
the deterioration of the mind.
 He invented the horror story.
 He developed a “unified idea” for the short
story concept.
 “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Fall of
the House of Usher,” “The Masque of the
Red Death,” “The Raven,” etc.