In-Class Essay

Using your notes from American Romanticism & Transcendentalists, split quotes, journal entries, and texts from Emerson and Thoreau, explore one of the following prompts.  This is an in-class essay exam. You should introduce your ideas in a short paragraph, then explore the theme in a number of body paragraphs, then conclude your ideas.   USE QUOTES TO SUPPORT YOUR IDEAS.

  • Double-space (write on every other line)
  • Write in ink
  • Do not write on the back of the page
  • Follow proper quote format: tag+quote+cite+explanation = good support


  1. Intuition & Emotional Knowledge: The Romantics believed that imagination was able to discover truths that the rational mind could not each.  They favored intuition over reason.  Pull quotes from each writer that connect to this concept of intuition – the capacity to know things immediately through our emotions – and why intuition is more important than the reason.
  2. Nature: American romanticism developed as a reaction to rationalism, and as a result the city becomes a place of shifting morals, corruption, & death.   One must reflect on the natural world to find Big-B-Beauty (and Big-T-Truth).  In nature, the ordinary becomes EXTRAordinary / SUPERnatural.  They believed that nature can provide sense in a chaotic world.  Pull quotes from each writer that connect to this concept of nature as the locus of truth and cities / society as the locus of the dishonest majority.
  3. Non-conformity: The Transcendentalists believed strongly in self-reliance and non-conformity to tradition.  Pull quotes from each writer that examine the need and motivation to be a non-conformist.
  4. Compare/Contrast: Compare and contrast the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Use specific quotes from each author to show their similarities & differences. Discuss how they represent the ideas of the Transcendentalists.
  5. Civil Disobedience: “Are the principles endorsed by Thoreau, King, and Gandhi still relevant in the twenty-first century?  Could these principles lead to a resolution of the violent political conflicts in the world today? Use quotes from each of the three authors to support your response.