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American Literature- Romantic Period 1820-1865

What was America as a country characterized by during the Romantic period?
continued westward expansion, increasing gravity over the slavery question, instensification of the spirit of embattled sectionalism in the south

literary romance
a) a prose narrative treating imaginary characters involved in events remote in time or place
b) an extravagant fiction, invention, or story; a wild or wanton exaggeration
c) a work demanding greater latitude in feshion and material than the novel

Characteristics of Romanticism
a) accuracy in portraying writers feelings and experience
b) idealistic
c) consciously artistic
d) individualistic
e) setting removed in time
f) nature (wilderness) representative of freedom
g) ardent nationalism
h) creation of american myth
i) gothic overtones

what is a romantic work marked by?
preenation of action, love, adventure, and combat, drawn form the author’s imagination

what does the name “transcendental” suggest
the indebtedness of the movement of the german philosopher, Kant, who made use of the word

who became the chief spokesman of american transcendentalist philosophy
Emerson

American Tranascendentalism embraced elements from
Quakerism- for the concept of inner light, whihc easily translates into transcendental intuition
Deism- fot its devotion to nature and the frontier spirit

Basic Tenants of transcendentalism
1) all are capable of transcending to a higher spiritual plant (inlcluding common man, every soul has God-like potential, so no elect or domain)
2) one can transcended through intuition not reason
3) one can transcend by learning form and living in hamrony with nature
4) one can transcend as an individual; thus the possibility of redempion lies within
5) ater transcending, one will want to do the right and moral thing

What was the Utopian community?
established in 1841. Had problems. Fired soon wiped out the community.

Thoreau- ways to read Walden
Thoreau-
1) an autobiography- what do we learn about Thoreau?
What does he tell us about himself? His inner life?
2) a social criticism and satire- what does Thoreau say about the society in which he lives? Do his comments regarding social convetion hold true today?
3) an inspirational literature (self-help)- what lines from Walden inspire readers of challenge them to lead better, fuller lives?
4) a nature book- what are some specific examples of Thoreau’s observations about nature?
5) an artistic masterpiece- identify figures of speech
6) an exression of transcendentalism- what lines promote individualism or intuition?

Emerson-

Background info

Emerson
1 of 5 sons
dad was Unitarian pastor
taught at Harvard
married Ellen & became Unitarian pastor
1st wife died, resigned, remarried (4 kids)

Emerson
How is “nature” a statement of transcendental position?
Emerson
takes a kind and positive view of nature
called “The Bible” of am. transcendentalism

Emerson-
“self-reliance”
empahsis severe individualism and non-conformity

Emerson’s works
Nature

Emerson-
impulses that came out of transcendentalism
1) to prophecy
2) recreate a new nature for oneself
3) speak in first person singular

Thoreau

background info

follower of Emerson, but 14 years younger
criticized b/ he didn’d discipline well
taught school
helped dad make pencils for a time
met Emerson and traveled with him

Thoreau

Thoreau
Why did Thoreau go to walden pond?
to write his own ideas without interruption
to live deliberately

Poe

background info

died at age 40
strongly influenced by women in life
weird home life- 1st time he felt he had a loving family

Poe

Literary accomplishments

1) skilled symbolic poet- wrote 48 poems
2) formalized from for short story
3) most important literary critic of his generation
4) wrote tales of psychological analysis and symbolism

Poe
5 characteristics of theory
1) begin with the first sentence
2) employ totality of effect
3) aim @ the truth-suggests truth is subjective
4) keep i t short- read in a single uninterrupted reading
5) leave no loose ends

Poe

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tales of psychological analysis and symbolism

1) tales of terror (Telltale Heart, Cask of Amontillado)
2) Beauty Marked by color and rhythm (Mask of the Red Death)
3) tales of logical reasoning (the purloined letter)

Poe

what is the theme of “the purloined letter”?

importance of identifying with criminal and being able to size him up and use that info

Poe

Prefect vs. Dupoin

Prefect Dupoin
thinks in one way left and right brain
doesn’t use imagination sees w/ dif. perspectives

Poe

what is the Dupoin motivated by?

revenge and money

Poe
What is Dupoin’s philosophy for understanding?
think like they think; Ex.- schoolboy mimicing face to understand opponents

Poe

Chiaroscuro

refers to contrast betwene light and dark

velvelt flies into palace- black dark bird flies into white marble palace

Poe

How is “the fall of the house of usher” house described?

melancholy, sense of insuffrable gloom, has vacant eye-like windows, and iciness

Poe
How does Poe create unity in “the fall of the house of usher”?
by talking about the crack in the building and the crack in the man’s well-being

Hawthorne

background information

grandfather was judge during salem with trials
changed “hawthorne” to “hawthorne”
college rommate- Franklin Pierce (future president)
12 year solitary period- developed writing
took Custom House job
democratic party supporter

Hawthorne

Scarlet Letter

America’s 1st symbolic book (followed closely by Moby Dick by Herman Melville)

Hawthorne

What was unique about Hawthorn’es writing?

he didn’t let his novels be serialized- chapters published differently

Hawthorne

6 short story themes

1) man’s incapacity to mingle with mankind
2) hidden sin
3) unchecked scientific impulse
4) fantasy
5) episode from colonial history
6) dual nature of humanity

Melville

background information

wealthy middle class NY family
went to sea as a sailor on the St Lawerence

Melville
books
Typee- 1st modern novel of south sea and adventure, made himknown as man among cannibals
Mardi- began as sea adventure, turned into symbolic allegory but damaged his reputation

Melville

“Moby Dick”

was dedicated to Hawthorne
1st literary classic of whaling

Poe’s works
The Raven
The Purloined Letter
The Fall of the House of Usher

Hawthorne’s works
The Minister’s Black Veil
The Birthmark

Melville’s works
Bartleby the Scrivener

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