US Lit – Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Literary elements American Literature (1790-1865)

Historical Context
-America expanding its boundaries in this time between independence and the Civil War.
-Jefferson purchased Louisiana Territory from France (1803) and doubled the nation’s size and America also began moving westward (Manifest Destiny)
-Steamboats, railroads = economic development
-Cycles of boom and bust. Financial panic swept through the nations banks wiping out many investors.
-War of 1812 fought with Britain on land and sea inspired the writing of the “Star Spangled Banner”
-Three major orators: Henry Clay (regulator of slavery, made public attacks on abolitionism) John Calhoun (ardent supporter of slavery) Daniel Webster (Supporter of nationalism)

Important authors: Nathaniel Hawthorn, Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe

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(Same time as British Romance)

Literary Elements
-Romanticism considered nature to the the dwelling place of divinity
-Emergence of American Folktales
-Distinct American writing – not just a copy of British forms
– Reaction against the age of reason
-Observing a large-scale shift in sensibility (which began in late 18th century and stormed across the first half of 19th century)
-Emotion, intuition
-found value and interest in the individual
-considered nature which offered joy, harmony, and spiritual refreshment, dwelling place of divinity
-During the first few decades, the best American authors imitated British authors (William Cullen Bryant imitated Wordsworth, James Fenimore copper imitated Sir Walter Scott’s historical romanticism)
– A theme of literary independence emerged as Emerson wanted a complete break with Old World Traditions, and Poe and Hawthorn developed the short story into a distinctive american genre
-Walt Whitman finally wrote about entirely on American topics, from and entirely American point of view in a manner that deviated from British Traditionalism.
-This era valued feelings, intuition, and idealism.
-Placed faith in inner experience and imagination
-Individual freedom and worth of the individual was paramount
-Poetry was seen as the highest expression of the mind
-Dark romantics = American Gothic = used dark supernatural themes and settings

5 Principal Romantic Themes in American Literature:
1. Intuition (The truth of the heart is more trustworthy than reason)
2. To Express deeply felt experience is more valuable than to elaborate universal principles
3. The individual is at the center of life and God is the center of the individual
4. Nature is an array of physical symbols from which knowledge of the supernatural can be intuited
5. We should aspire to the Ideal, to change what is to what ought to be

Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Literary elements
(1790-1865)
-Emergence of Early American folktales and distinctly American writing, not just copying English forms
-William and Mary established intellectual leadership
-Southern writers were driven to propagandize in defense of slavery and wrote escapist fantazies.
-South produced romance fictions and chivalric melodramas
-An indigenous southern genre was the plantation novel
-New England was center of American Literature
-Belief in transcendentalism emerged
-Romanticism, reaction against the Age of Reason: subordination of rationality to emotion and intuition; interest in the individual and nature, which offered harmony, joy and spiritual refreshment.
-American authors imitated British Authors
-A theme of literary independence emerged
-Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorn developed the short story
-Walt Whitman wrote entirely on American topics
-Fireside poets were read by American families in the harsh and enduring New England winters

Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Authors
(1790-1865)
Nathanial Hawthorn (1804-1864) and Hermann Mellville (189-1891) are the predominant early American Novelists, writing on subjects:
-regional
-specify and American
-yet sharing insights about human foibles, fears, loves, doubts and triumphs.

Others: Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849), William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894), William Gilmore Simms (i806-1870)

The fireside poets
(James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and John Greenleaf Whittier)

“The Courtin” (Lowell used Yankee dialect to tell the story)

Epics by Longfellow: Hiawatha, The Courtship of Miles Standish, and Evangeline told adversity, sorrow and ultimate happiness in a uniquely American fashion.

Snowbound by Whittier relates the story of a captive family isolated by a blizzard, stressing family closeness

Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Literary elements in the South
Proslavery propaganda
Romance fictions and Chivalric melodrama (similar to Sir Walter Scott’s Waverly and Ivanhoe)
Plantation novels (indigenous southern genre – slavery was white benevolence and black loyalty)

The North: (the major center of American
Literature)
Major writers = Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Hermin Melville

*NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE
-(1804-1864)
American Renaissance
-He and Hermann Mellville (189-1891) are the predominant early American Novelists, writing on subjects definitely regional, specify and American, yet sharing insights about human foibles, fears, loves, doubts and triumphs.
-writes about puritans in scarlet letter
-His writings range from children’s stories (His Cricket on the Hearth series) to adults fare of dark, brooding stories such as “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” “The Devil and Tom Walker,” and “Rappaccini’s daughter.”
-His masterpiece was The Scarlet Letter
-Also wrote The House of the Seven Gables
-Themes: Finds his material in New England Purtian past (guilt)

*HERMAN MELVILLE
(1819-1891): (A neighbor of Hawthorn in Lenox, Mass) and both were interested in combining symbolism and romance.
-Hawthorn’s obsession with the power of sin affected Melville’s work in Moby Dick was his great opus.
-In Moby Dick (1851) he treats nature as a source of metaphysical truth
-He also wrote a succinct tale of Billy Budd

*EDGAR ALLAN POE
-American Gothic
(1809-1849)
-A poet who creates a distinctively American version of romanticism with his 16 syllable lines in “the Raven,” his classical “To Helen,” and his Gothic “Annabelle Lee.”
-The horror short story can be said to originate form Poe’s pen. “The Tell Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” and “The Mask of the Red Death” are exemplary short stories.
-In addition, the genre of detective story emerges with Poe’s “Murders in the Rue Morgue.”
-He was unyielding in his aesthetic commitment and was idolized for his poverty and early death.
-Known for his gothic, psychologically thrilling tales, he believed that beauty was akin to truth and considered writing a religious and moral obligation.
-Many of his poems venerated the death of women and dead female bodies, observing that there ware always elements of strangeness in beauty.
-Use of symbolism strongly influenced the French and helped to shape the literary movement known as modernism.

William Cullen Bryant
(1794-1878)-
-America’s first major poet
-Austere and intellectual poems. Most of his poems death with nature, the woods, or death.
-“Thanatopsis” is a meditation on death
-style is elevated and dignified, blank verse (much like his English predessors)
-He left Puritan western mass to go to NYC

*JAMES FENIMORE COOPER (1789-1851)
The Last of the Mohicans (about the French and Indian War) and The Pioneers. Owes the style of his romantic and historic fiction to Sir Walter Scott.
-historical romances of frontier and Indian life in the early American days created a unique form of American literature.
-America’s first major novelist
-narrative method
-themes
-wilderness and sea creating romances touched with beauty and power

Oliver Wendell Holmes
Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Authors
(1790-1865) (1809-1894) A New England poet “The Deacon’s Masterpiece: or, The WOnderful One-Hoss Shay” a reduction of the logic of Calvinism and a parable of its breakdown.

William Gilmore Simms
Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Authors
(1790-1865) (i806-1870) AKA A Southern Cooper. Wrote novels that featured two settings: The frontier and the revolution. The Yemasee (a chief gives aid to the English against his own tribe)

Romantic Literature/American Renaissance/American Gothic – Literary elements in the North
North was the major center of American Literature still
Major writers = Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Hermin Melville

*WALT WHITMAN
(1819-1892)
– Wrote Leaves of Grass
-He is also famous for writing the famous elegy for Abraham Lincoln “O Captain, My Captain”
-Was an original writer and rejected the traditional elements of verse, meter, rhyme, and conventional poetic diction.
-His subject matter centered on democracy and the individual common man
-Heavily influenced by Emerson and the transcendentalists, his work was sensual, displaying frank admiration for the body, and was considered pansexual.
-Thought of America as a great democracy where each individual, over time, could evolve to spiritual perfection
-His poetry reflect theories of Emerson in that the verse emerges organically as the fruit of the poet’s own growth; free verse; finds its material in the common, unfamiliar, and everyday life of Americans everywhere

*MOBY DICK
Written by Herman Melville
Romantic Literature/American Renaissance

-Moby Dick follows a crazed captain Ahab on his Homeric Odyssey to conquer the great while whale that has outwitted him and his whaling crews time and time again. —
-The whale has even taken Ahab’s leg, and according to Ahab, wants all of him.
-Melville recreates in painstaking deal and with insider knowledge the harsh life of a New England Whaler out of New Bedford by way of Nantucket

*BILLY BUDD
An allegory by Herman Melville of how forces of evil trump over innocence and beauty and his Christ-like sacrifice to the black-and-white maritime laws on the high seas.
-An accident results in the death of one of the ships officers, who dislikes the young, shy, affable, Billy.
-Captain Vere must hang Billy for the death of Claggert but knows that this is not right.
-However, an example must be given to the rest of the crew so that discipline can be maintained.

*THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
By James Fenimore Cooper
Depicts a young scout during the french and indian war
-set in 1757, during the French and Indian War (the Seven Years’ War), when France and Great Britain battled for control of North America. During this war, both the French and the British used Native American allies, but the French were particularly dependent, as they were outnumbered in the Northeast frontier areas by the more numerous British colonists.

*THE PIONEERS
By James Fenimore Cooper
Features a middle-aged frontiersman

*THE SCARLET LETTER
-Nathaniel Hawthorn’s masterpiece
-About Puritan New England society whose members left England to establish religious freedom.
– Takes on the society of hypocritical Puritan New Englanders who ostensibly left England to establish religious freedom but who have become entrenched in judgmental finger wagging.
-They ostracize Hester and condemn her child, Pearl, as a child of Satan.
-Great love, sacrifice, loyalty, suffering and related epiphanies add universality to this tale.

*THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES
-Nathaniel Hawthorn
– Deals with kept secrets, loneliness, and societal pariah, but love ultimately triumphs.
-romantic and gothic

*LEAVES OF GRASS
Written by Walt Whitman

*”O CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN”
the famous elegy for Abraham Lincoln
mourns the death of Lincold

*”THE RAVEN”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-16 syllable lines

*”TO HELEN”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-classical

*”ANNABELLE LEE”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-Gothic

*”THE TELLTALE HEART”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-Short story

*”THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-Short story

*”THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-Short story

*”THE MASK OF RED DEATH”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-Short story

*”MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE”
-Written by Edgar Allan Poe
-The genre of detective story emerged with this story

*Leatherstocking Tales
James Fennimore Cooper
-provides readers a window into their uniquely American world through the sitting accounts of drums along the Mohawk, the French and Indian Wars, the futile British defense of Fort William Henry, and the brutalities of this period. Natty Bumppo, Chingachgook, Uncas, and Magua are unforgettable characters that reflect the human spirit in thought and action.