American & Renaissance

Classicism : (1750-1800….otherwise known as The Age of Reason) In and American, all believed that by using reason, societies could manage themselves and their societies without depending on authorities and past traditions. Reason, they believed, thrived on freedom. By the free use of reason, could progress: social evils could be corrected, and ignorance ended, and the general quality of existence improved.

1. The writers and philosophers of this time period emphasized the following:  reason over imagination  social over personal  common over individual  clarity, , and balance  that the laws of nature are easily & rationally understood . The Great Chain of …This chain is a hierarchy of living and nonliving beings or items on earth. It begins with God, who equals pure spirit, and ends with rock/earth, which equals pure matter. All else between contains some spirit and some matter, with the rank depending on how much spirit vs. matter is contained in that being/item.  that imagination should be restrained by reason & common sense  that tradition creates enduring standards, which the new nation should want to create and uphold

2. Authors of this time period include:  Benjamin Franklin – aphorisms, Poor Richards Almanac, pamphlets, news articles,  Thomas Jefferson – speeches, pamphlets, Declaration of Independence  Patrick Henry – speeches, pamphlets  Thomas Paine – speeches, pamphlets

3. Types of writing include:  pamphlets (persuasive)  news articles (persuasive)  speeches (persuasive)  autobiography//  Revolutionary Songs (persuasive)

4. Major events include:  Revolutionary War . The difference between European and American Age of Reason was that Americans actually put into practice the of the time.  1755 Samuel Johnson – , The Dictionary of the English Language  1783 Noah Webster – The United States, American Spelling Book  1828 Noah Webster – The United States, An American Dictionary of the English Language  1884-1928 Various Contributors – England, Oxford English Dictionary

Early Romanticism: (1800-1840) Nationalism: The struggle for nationalism continued long after the established the nation as a fact.  Economically, the new nation struggled for independence.  spread in the US as factories were created and cities grew.  Westward expansion created more land available for farming and ranching, o which demanded roads & canals to bring products to markets o and increased communications across the vast country.

Political Factions: Because of lack of communication and the hugeness of the country, political factions became the basis for national politics. Though this allowed many to voice their opinions, it also led to many small and extreme divisions which threatened the solvency of the nation. In 1837, when Andrew Jackson left the presidency, he warned that internal divisions were the greatest present threat to America.

****However strong this threat, the spirit of nationality thrived in the young nation and remained the hope of the populous. This spirit of nationality can be seen in the drive toward cultural independence, especially in .

1. The writers and philosophers of this time period emphasized the following:  intuition over reason (intuition and imagination are the most important means of perception)  that imagination gives expression to intuition . frees one from conventional thinking . enables one to see the inner, infinite reality of Nature and of Man  the human potential for social progress and spiritual growth YET the tendency to value the individual over all social forms or systems  inner life of individual (the emotional/irrational depths of human nature were explored); concern with the deeper aspects of human psychology that lie beyond rational awareness  the idea that wilderness allows the opportunity to recover those natural virtues that are obscured or corrupted by society; nature as a revelation of truth and moral values  the growing humanitarian concern for the “common man”

2. Early American Romantic Literature emphasized the following:  Nature . , strangeness, & mystery . organic – in constant change  The Past (as a result of increased nationality and to increase the sense of nationality) . Washington Irving – legends & folktales; worked to create a fictional, shared . Cooper – record of great historical events as a basis for fiction/novels  The Inner World of Human Nature . Bryant – observation of nature spurs emotional truths & awareness . Cooper – natural views of life that are simple yet profound . Poe – irrational to the point of madness

3. Authors of Early American Romanticism include:  William Cullen Bryant –  James Fenimore Cooper - novels  Washington Irving – legends, folktales, short stories  Edgar Allan Poe – short stories,

4. Types of writing include:  poetry  short stories  novels  plays  essays

5. Major events include:  1803 - Louisiana Purchase  1804-1806 – Lewis & Clark Explore Louisiana Territory  1812-1814 - 2nd War with England  1823 – Monroe Doctrine (US would oppose any extension of European control in Western Hemisphere)  1825 – Erie Canal opens, connecting NY to the west  1828 – construction begins on Baltimore and Ohio Railroad  1836 – Morris invents the telegraph

American Renaissance (Late Romanticism): (1840-1860) Historical Setting:  extreme growth o geographical expansion across the continent o doubling of the population o huge strides in industrialization o widespread poverty (many immigrants with little work or “mob bosses” & lack of unions) o lack of  nationalism & optimism o spectacular advances in and technology o establishment of public education system in every state by the end of the period  reform efforts included: o establishment of unions (unfortunately, many frequent bloody strikes) o utopian communities – each with its own economic, philosophical, or religious basis o tax-supported public education – before 1800 all schools were privately supported; by 1860, all states had established public schools o increased adult education – through newspapers, magazines, libraries, , trade & professional associations, and lyceums . prominent intellectuals would give free public lectures . speak on public issues . provided information, but also shaped public opinion o Women’s Rights Movement: . Before:  Women were legally minors under the control of their husbands or male relatives  the right to sign contracts, make will, to own was subject to the man  could not vote  wife beating was legal in almost every state . Changes:  increase public schools = increase need for teachers = opportunity for women  if women were intellectually capable of being teachers, then they were capable of other professions as well  became stridently involved in all reform, particularly in women’s rights  right to vote was not granted nationally until 1920 (Colorado in 1893) o Slavery: . Anti-slavery : Lowell, Whittier, Thoreau (all also Lyceum speakers) . This issue began to overshadow every aspect of the nation, leading to civil war in 1861.

American Renaissance –  literary achievements were so numerous and of such a high quality;  without losing its nationalistic tone, Am. literature achieved a universal voice;  instead of a common idea, this time period developed a of strong philosophical/literary movements

Philosophers of this time period were mainly divided into 2 groups, transcendentalism and anti- transcendentalism: 1. Transcendentalism: a. Emerson . Thoreau  combined areas of thought - religion, philosophy, literature…but not politics  Basic truths of the universe lie beyond the knowledge we obtain from our senses. . senses – we learn facts and laws of physical world . reason – we learn to use this information and create new things . intuition –  transcends the natural world;  we know the existence of our own souls and their relationship to a reality beyond the physical world  it never reasons, never proves…it simply perceives  Universal Soul – . spiritual unity of all forms of being; God, , and nature share a universal soul . no part of the natural world is trivial; all is symbolic of spirit  optimism – the natural world is basically good; therefore, humanity is essentially (at its root) good  emphasis on the individual – . everyone has the ability to experience God firsthand . deep self-knowledge . attempt to understand the inner self; the irrational elements of the human mind  major achievement – related all individuals to both the natural world and to their own inner worlds . Even those who disagreed with transcendentalism were stimulated to a new self- awareness by their ideas.

2. Anti-transcendentalism: a. Hawthorne b. Melville  found in nature and in human nature radical contradictions not accounted for in transcendentalism . humanity is NOT godlike . evil DOES exist  pessimism (possibly) – . mix of good & evil even in the loftiest goals; . unbridgeable gap between human desires and human possibilities . found in humanity an “uneven balance” opposed to transcendentalism . searched for the “usable truth” – an honest appraisal of human limits 3. Brahmins – high-caste, intellectual, social important poets whose conceptions of poetry differed strongly from Transcendentalists. They represented good taste and distinguished achievement, but were little effected by the changing intellectual temper of the age. a. Longfellow b. Whittier c. Lowell

4. Emily Dickinson – individual of this time period who does not fit any of the molds chiefly because she did not write for public consumption. Her poems did not play any part in the intellectual or literary life of the period; however, they DO show the effects of transcendental thought.

5. Major events include:  1838 – establishment of the underground railroad  1846-48 – Mexican War  1848 – Gold Rush  1858 – Pony Express  1859 – first oil well  1860 – South Carolina succeeds from the Union