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  Transcendentalism An American Renaissance Transcendentalism is - Transcendentalism was the name of a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy…
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Transcendentalism An American Renaissance Transcendentalism is -
  • Transcendentalism was the name of a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that advocates that there is an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through a knowledgeable intuitive awareness that is conditional upon the individual.
  • Who/Where
  • Although Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are the most studied in schools there were other Transcendentalists who were well known: Prominent Transcendentalists included Margaret Fuller, as well as Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, Frederick Henry Hedge, Theodore Parker, and George Putnam.
  • The movement was centered in and around New England
  • Utopia
  • Some Transcendentalists took the concept into actual practice.
  • Brook Farm was a utopian community based on early Socialism and Transcendental precepts.
  • Most famously, Thoreau lived his life in the woods for two years in an effort to embody this philosophy.
  • 1840-1860
  • A period of unrestrained growth
  • South West Territories
  • North West was opening up for the first time
  • Railroad expanding the country
  • Gold Rush
  • The country faced new problems
  • Poverty
  • Lack of education
  • Limited equality of opportunity
  • This affected the American dream.
  • There was a push for REFORM
  • Reform became the motivation for expansion.
  • The country was propelled by 2 forces
  • Dissatisfaction with the present
  • Optimism about the future
  • A period of many advances in science and technology: telegraph, railroad, reaper and other agricultural machines.
  • 1800 – no public education 1860 – every state had tax supported education Women’s rights Elizabeth Cady Stanton The right to vote was still in the distance, but they gained a right to be educated Abolitionist movement Successful Reform Transcendentalism Explained
  • Believed that the real, spiritual, truths of the world lived outside of everyday physical experiences.
  • Faith, Love
  • Intuition was the highest power of our being. Things we know but can not necessarily prove.
  • Faith, Love
  • How did God reveal himself to the Puritans? Lusty, able bodied seamen. A wrathful God How did God reveal himself to the Age of Reason? Ben Franklin’s experiments trying to decipher the clockmaker God. Where is the God? Transcendentalists saw all living things as divine.
  • Transcendentalists called for an independence from organized religion; they saw no need for any intercession between God and man. Divinity is self-contained, internalized in every being. Transcendentalism gives credence to the unlimited potential of human ability to connect with both the natural and spiritual world. The chief aim is to become fully aware not only of what our senses record, but also to recognize the ability of our inner voice—our intuition—to wisely and correctly interpret the sensory input.
  • From the intro -
  • “For Emerson, both of these ways of viewing the world around us were important; but the mystical outlook was “higher” than the practical one. The mystical view did not spring from logic; it came, rather, from intuition. It was spontaneous and emotional, not deliberate and rational.” p.185
  • Defining Transcendentalism is TOUGH.
  • Look at what Cliff Notes has to say about Thoreau’s troubles defining the movement.
  • I think it is best defined by personal experience.
  • Read the following poem by Walt Whitman.
  • The Learn’d Astronomer
  • When I heard the learn'd astronomer;When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, andmeasure them;When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with muchapplause in the lecture-room,How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;Till rising and gliding out, I wander'd off by myself,In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,Look'd up in perfect silence at the stars.
  • Transcendentalism explained
  • Emerson maintained the Romantic concept that the physical facts of the natural world were the doorway to the spiritual or ideal world.
  • “Thanatopsis”
  • “To a Waterfowl”
  • “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls”
  • Optimism of death as part of life cycle.
  • Emerson
  • The “father” of the movement.
  • Was one of the rare writers who was appreciated by both the intellectuals and the common man.
  • “Self Reliance”
  • Lecturing helped spread his considerable reputation.
  • Emerson from the introduction -
  • “His work is often “plain” in the sense that he offers a perfectly understandable surface, though there is much substance beneath it. His essays sometimes appear to be collections of memorable sentences rather than organized expositions of thought. Such a style betrays Emerson’s habit of piecing together his lectures and essays from his journals.”
  • Emerson
  • Not a lyricist, but a poet none the less.
  • Harvard grad – minister just like his father.
  • Lost faith in his religion after the death of his young wife and left his post.
  • He was an American, and believed we should live in the present not in the past.
  • The idea that nature corresponds to the idea of man – both were part of a universal whole. It permeates all. Therefore, all things are significant. (reform) Oversoul man nature god Asides were part of a universal whole.
  • Self was the basis of morality and society was a lesser judge.
  • “To thine own self be true, every heart vibrates to that iron string.”
  • Conformity vs. Non-conformity.
  • Emerson is the father of the movement.
  • Thoreau was the disciple.
  • Emerson were part of a universal whole.
  • Although he wrote no fiction and less poetry than many other poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson is perhaps the most important figure in the history of American literature. As a writer of essays and lectures, he was a master stylist, renowned for the clarity and rhythms of his prose. Several of his essays--notably Nature, "Self-Reliance," and "The American Scholar"--are among the finest in English. Among the principles that Emerson eloquently addressed in these and other works are the individual's unity with nature, the sanctity of the individual, the need to live in the present, and the role of the poet in society.
  • 1837 were part of a universal whole. “American Scholar” speech at Harvard Called by ______ America’s literary Declaration of Independence 1838 Speech at Harvard’s school of Divinity. Created his division with Unitarians with his position on Jesus. He was denounced and called an atheist. 40 years later it was accepted doctrine for Unitarians. Emerson
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