American Romantics 1800-1855 History 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 & experiences Writing about frontier and experiences with nature 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 women Transcendentalism 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 ethic Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) 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 (1817-1862) 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” Gothics Definition: Emphasis on the dark side of an individual and his reactions to the world.. 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.