Antebellum literature (1820-1860) american



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AMERICAN LITERATURE: 1820-65


  • ANTEBELLUM LITERATURE

    • (1820-1860)

  • AMERICAN ROMANTICISM

  • AMERICAN RENAISSANCE (1830-50s)

    • spark in 1830s

      • Emerson

    • peak in 1850s

      • Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman

    • American writing = achieves 1st significant maturity

    • c
      English Renaissance

      • peace

      • prosperity

      • religious conservatism

      • humanism
      oming of age

    • right time

      • culturally

        • time of peace

        • after Revolutionary War

        • after War of 1812

      • politically

        • from Enlightenment & Revolution>

        • optimism re: man’s possibilities & man’s perfectibility

        • democracy> value of individual

      • economically

        • peace after war

        • growing business, commerce

        • growing leisure class

        • coming depression of mid-century, panic of 1837

      • religiously

        • stern Calvinism = replaced by purely logical Deism

        • & its (over)reaction to Great Awakening’s emotionalism

        •  unsatisfied

        • & hungry for something new, personal but not traditional

        • reaction to growing materialism

      • aesthetically

        • felt restrained by Neo-Classicism (form, lack of emotion)

        • less @ form

        • more @ inspiration & emotion

        • heart over rules

  • anti-American Literature:

    • not taught in US schools until mid-20thC

    • not taken seriously

    • seen as subordinate to British lit

  • against idea of American Renaissance:

    • selling idea created in 1941 (we need a “ren.” as British)

    • critics of the period excluded women, blacks, Indians, ….

    • critics were disinterested in popular writers of the day (not until 1970s, 1980s)

    • critics were disinterested in works outside of New York & Massachusetts

    • critics had ignored the period’s social/political contexts: immigration, slavery,…

    • critics had overemphasized the separation of English & American literary traditions

    • *how can it be a “rebirth” when it’s only beginning, still in the process of becoming

  • centrality:

    • building on writings that preceded it & pointing to future possibilities

    • fulfillment of calls for “American” literary tradition

      • from 1790s+

  • American” literature:


1820s
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