Thoreau Readings

Read excerpts from Walden“Where I Lived & What I Lived For” (196), “Solitude” (197), and “Conclusion” (203).  Read excerpt from “Civil Disobedience” (212-216).

  • Collect and explain 3 quotes from each selection.
  • Summarize each selection.

Be prepared for a class activity on Friday, 10/14 & seminar on Monday, 10/17 & Tuesday 10/18. You cannot participate in group work or seminar without notes.

Emerson Readings

Read from Nature (182-3) and from Self-Reliance (185-6) in your textbooks.

Collect 3 split-quotes from each selection.

Explain how each quote represents some quality of either the Romantics, Transcendentalists, or Dark Romantics.

Quotes are due as soon as we are done discussing each piece in class.  from Nature will be due on Tuesday 10/04.

from Self-Reliance quotes will be due after we discuss it – post-homecoming-insanity.

Due Wednesday 10/12.

You will be required to memorize and recite a small section from one of these pieces for a grade in coming weeks.  Keep an eye toward parts of the selections that appeal to you most.

The Devil and Tom Walker

After covering notes on American Romanticism, students should read “The Devil and Tom Walker” (153-161).

Write down three quotes and explain how they’re connected to concepts from notes.  Focus on nature being supernatural, intuition and knowing things via emotions vs. reason, the dark side of humanity, finding the divine in nature, etc.

Notes are due tomorrow prior to your quiz: 09/23/2016.

American Romanticism

  • Borger went over the Romanticism part of these notes in class on Tuesday 09/20
  • Be prepared to take a quiz over Romanticism on Thurs. or Fri. 09/22-09/23

American Romanticism: 1800-1860**

Before American Romanticism
Puritans: (1600’s)

  • Broad tem referring to Protestant groups that sought to ‘purify’ the Church of England starting around 1560.
    • Thought religion should be a personal, inner experience
    • Wanted to return to a simpler form of worship
    • Persecuted in England (noses slit, ears chopped off, whipped & jailed, etc.) = journey to “The New World” in 1620
    • Philosophy centered on doubt: humanity is damned for all eternity because of Adam & Eve’s sin = unregenerate / damned. BUTGod is merciful (ergo Jesus) = elect / saved
    • You couldn’t know if you were elect or unregenerate.  Theology was clear about what would happen to saints & sinners but it was fuzzy about who were the sinners & who were the saints
  • Puritan values developed as a way to try to become elect / saved:
    1. Self-reliance
    2. Industriousness
    3. Temperance
    4. Simplicity

Age of Reason: (1700’s)

  • Enlightenment
  • Rationalism: belief that human beings can arrive at truth by using reason rather than religion, past authority, or intuition.
  • Rationalist values:
    1. Arrive at truth using reason
    2. God created universe but does not interfere with its workings
    3. World operates according to God’s rules & people can discover those rules using reason
    4. People are basically good
    5. You can worship God best by helping other people

American Romanticism: (1800-1860)

  • American Romanticism
    • Developed as a reaction to rationalism in light of the Industrial Revolution
      • To rationalists, the city was place of success, prosperity, & self-realization
      • To romantics, the city becomes a place of shifting morals, corruption, & death
    • The imagination was able to discover truths that the rational mind could not reach; favors intuition over reason
    • Romantics didn’t reject logic completely; for art, the emotional, ‘felt’ experience was key
  • Romantic Values:
    1. Value feeling & intuition over reason
    2. Prefer youthful innocence to educated sophistication
    3. Places faith in inner experience & imagination
    4. Finds beauty in the exotic & supernatural
    5. Believes poetry is the highest expression of imagination
    6. Shuns artificiality of civilization & seeks out truth in nature
    7. Believes nature is path to spiritual enlightenment
    8. Defends individual freedom & self worth
  • Romantic Escapism & Nature:
    • Rise above ‘dull realities’ to a realm of higher truth
    • Searched for exotic settings (nature, away from cities, folklore, etc.)
    • Reflect on the natural world to find Big-B-Beauty (and Big-T-Truth)
    • In nature, the ordinary becomes EXTRAordinary / SUPERnatural
    • Nature could provide sense in a chaotic world
    • Nature was the key to God
    • Symbolism is EVERYWHERE in nature
    • How many times have you found perfection walking down SHS’s halls?  Never!  That’s because you’re indoors – go outdoors to nature.  Therein lies truth and beauty (so thought the Romantics).
    • Contemplation of nature = emotional and intellectual awakening
  • Wilderness & the Frontier
    • America = limitless frontiers, westward expansion = idealization of frontier life
    • Frontier is the physical division between civilization & wilderness
    • Frontier = create your own identity
  • American Romantic Hero:
    • Young / youthful qualities
    • Sense of honor based on some higher principal but not on society’s rules
    • Has knowledge of people based on intuition – not on education
    • Loves nature – avoids towns
    • Quests for higher truth in natural world
    • Uneasy with women = domesticity
    • James Finimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo (Last of the Mohicans)
  • Transcendentalists: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau
    • Transcendental: to know the ultimate reality of God, the universe, and the self, one must transcend, or go beyond, everyday experiences in the physical world
    • Roots in idealism: Plato (400 BC) True reality is found in ideas rather than the world perceived by the senses
    • Believed in human perfectability
    • Transcendental Values:
      • Everything in the world is a reflection of the Divine Soul
      • Physical world is a doorway to the spiritual or ideal world
      • Use intuition, the capacity to know things immediately through our emotions, to behold God in nature (or God within)
      • Self-reliance & individualism vs. external authority & blind conformity to tradition
      • Spontaneous feelings superior to deliberate rationality (heart over mind)
  • Dark Romantics: Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville
    • Anti-Transcenentalists: didn’t believe that the “Truths” of nature were good and harmless
    • Explore conflict between good & evil
    • Explore the psychological effects of guilt & sin
    • Explore the madness of the human psyche
    • Believed that horror & evil resided behind the facade of social respectability
    • “Fathers of Psychology”
    • Characterized by horror, tragedy, macabre, supernatural, & the Gothic

**Adapted from: Arpin, Gary Q. “American Romanticism: 1800-1860.” Elements of Literature: Fifth Course, Essentials of American Literature. Ed. Laura Wood. Austin: Holt, 2005. 138-149. Print.


Read the section in your text over American Romanticism (138-148). Take notes which cover the following main ideas from the reading.  Notes will be checked for a grade on Tuesday 09/20; we will quiz over the material Thursday or Friday (09/22 -09/23).

  • Characteristics of American Romanticism
  • The Role of Nature in American Romanticism
  • The Role of the City in American Romanticism
  • Characteristics of the American Romantic Hero
  • Characteristics of Transcendentalism
  • Characteristics of the Dark Romantics


“Sinners” & Autobiography

Monday 09/12: Read the excerpt from “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” & biography of Jonathan Edwards (44, 46-48).   Write the following response in your journal:

Select three quotes from the sermon (include in-text citations with page numbers).  Explain how each quote in some way represents the ideals of the Puritans from your readings & the posters you created last week. Should be roughly a ½ a page.   You should be moving beyond summary toward analysis – choosing evidence to support a claim.
Tuesday 09/13: Read the excerpt from Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin & biography of Franklin (65, 68-72).  Write the following response in your journal:Select three quotes from the excerpt (include in-text citations with page numbers).  Explain how each quote in some way represents the ideals of the Rationalists from your readings & the posters on the wall.  Should be roughly ½ a page.  You are moving beyond summary toward analysis – choosing evidence to support a claim.
Be prepared for a quiz over this material on Wed. 09/13.  Even if you are absent between now and then, you will be expected to take the quiz, so take your book home or have a friend bring it to you or use the internet to stay on top of readings.
Friday, 09/16 is a DEAR Friday (Drop Everything And Read) – per your request.  Bring a book of your choice to read on Friday or check one out from the library.