American Romanticism Essays

Herman Melville’s novel emphasized the perils of individual obsession by telling the tale of Captain Ahab’s single-minded quest to kill a white whale, Moby Dick, which had destroyed Ahab’s original ship and caused him to lose one of his legs.Edgar Allan Poe, a popular author, critic, and poet, decried, “the so-called poetry of the so-called transcendentalists.” These American writers who questioned transcendentalism illustrate the underlying tension between individualism and conformity in American life.

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Literary nationalists at this time were calling for a movement that would develop a unique American literary style to distinguish American literature from British literature.

The American Renaissance is characterized by renewed national self-confidence and a feeling that the United States was the heir to Greek democracy, Roman law, and Renaissance humanism.

The ideas of transcendentalism were able to permeate American thought and culture through a prolific print culture, which allowed the wide dissemination of magazines and journals.

Ralph Waldo Emerson emerged as the leading figure of this movement.

Other notable works from this time period include Nathaniel Hawthorne’s As often happens, historians emphasize the works produced by white men during the American Renaissance, but many African Americans and women produced great literary works, too.

Emily Dickinson began writing poetry in the 1830s, and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s (1852) rose to a prominent reputation in the late 1970s.

The mid-nineteenth century often has been considered an “American Renaissance” due to the number and quality of literary works produced.

Identify the major works of literature produced during the mid-nineteenth century “American Renaissance” During the mid-nineteenth century, many American literary masterpieces were produced.

Walt Whitman also added to the transcendentalist movement, most notably with his 1855 publication of twelve poems, entitled which celebrated the subjective experience of the individual.

One of the poems, “Song of Myself,” emphasized individualism, which for Whitman, was a goal achieved by uniting the individual with all other people through a transcendent bond. Some critics took issue with transcendentalism’s emphasis on rampant individualism by pointing out the destructive consequences of compulsive human behavior.


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