The transcendentalists


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An introduction to the writers known as the Transcendentalists

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The transcendentalists

  1. 1. The Transcendentalists The movement and literature
  2. 2. What is Transcendentalism?  Transcendentalism may be defined as a system of philosophy where one seeks knowledge through experience, nature, the self, spirit and intuition. It was a movement during the 1830’s -1840’s that began as a response to intellectualism.
  3. 3. Birthplace  Transcendentalism was born in New England, mainly because of the intellectual movement associated with Harvard University and The Universalist Church.
  4. 4. Core Belief  Transcendentalists believed in the inherent goodness of man and that the Universalist Church and the Intellects of the day corrupted man in his purest form.  They sought a way back to this purist form of goodness through meditations, writing, self realization, and communion with nature. They strove for self-reliance as well.
  5. 5. Writers  Some of the most famous Transcendentalists are:  Ralph Waldo Emerson  Henry David Thoreau  Walt Whitman  Margaret Fuller  Nathaniel Hawthorne
  6. 6. Romantic Era 1850-1920  There were several traits of Romanticism.  Freedom  Creativity  Experimentation  This was true in music, art, literature and dance.
  7. 7. Poets  Some of the more popular poets of the Romantic Era were in two differing realms: those who wrote with a focus on nature and those who wrote in a dark style.  They were inspired by nature, religion and patriotism.
  8. 8. Self Check:  What is the basis of Transcendentalism?  Where was the birthplace of The Transcendentalist Movement?  What was it in response to?  Who were some of the more prolific writers mentioned?  What things inspired the poets and authors?
  9. 9. A closer look…  Writers during this era often concerned themselves with nature and social causes. For example, Henry David Thoreau spent a night in jail as a result of not paying his poll tax. He refused to pay it because the money went toward funding the Mexican American War, which he opposed vehemently.  They wrote, they spoke out and their lives often reflected the beliefs they held onto.
  10. 10. Emerson & Thoreau  Emerson and Thoreau were very good friends. They both lived in Concord, Massachusetts and were quite vocal. They both wrote essays and journals, but while Emerson was more of a speaker, Thoreau was more of a walking symbol of the Transcendental movement.
  11. 11. Thoreau’s Walden  Henry David Thoreau spent two years of his life recording his thoughts and daily life while living in the small cabin he built by hand on Emerson’s property at Walden Pond.  Every thing that Thoreau ate, wore, used as a tool, or slept in, sat on, and ate at were built by him from the materials given to us by nature.  His famous Book of writing, On Walden Pond, describes all that he did and accomplished during these two years of seclusion.
  12. 12. Walden Pond
  13. 13. Thoreau, Con’t.  While living at Walden Pond, Thoreau not only recorded his activities, but he recorded his musings on nature, God, life, and the inner self.  He used much figurative language to describe his time at Walden Pond and brought the world to life with these words.  “Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature's watchmen — links which connect the days of animated life.”