LITR 4328 American Renaissance
(a.k.a. the American Romantic Era; 1820s-1860s or generation before US Civil War)
Fall 2018 Mondays 4-6:50pm, Bayou 1213

Homepage & Syllabus

terms index

Instructional Materials


Model Assignments




Instructor: Craig White   Office: Bayou 2529-8   
: 281 283 3380.       Email:

Office Hours: M 2-4, 7-8, & by appointment


Dr. White's homepage

Course Policies incl. Attendance; Disabilities Provisions

class music

Attendance policy: You are expected to attend every scheduled class meeting but are permitted one free cut without comment or penalty.

  • More than one absence jeopardizes your status in the course. If you continue to cut or miss, drop the course.

  • Even with medical or other emergency excuses, high numbers of absences or partial absences will result in a lower or failing course grade.





midterm & research proposal
 (1-3 Octoberr; 20-30%)

final exam
 (4-12 December; 30-40%)

research project
(28 Nov.; 30-40%)


reading assignment discussion leader

web review / outside text

model assignments presentation


Maps of North America

Reading & Presentation Schedule, fall 2018

 No Required Textbooks—all texts available online

(If you want a print anthology, most but not all selections below are available in standard American literature anthologies you can buy online or at used bookstores.)

Monday, 27 August 2018: introduction(s), concept of American Renaissance; Romanticism

Readings: Declaration of Independence (1776); U.S. Constitution (1789)

Walt Whitman, "I Sing the Body Electric"    (Whitman style sheet)

Emily Dickinson, [Wild Nights]  (Dickinson style sheet)

Edgar Allan Poe, "Romance"   (Poe Style Sheet)

Questions for poems: What is Romantic or typical of this author's style?

terms: Romanticism, American Renaissance, Maps of North America; formal verse, free verse; lyric poetry

Agenda—2hrs 15mins?

introduction, syllabus, website, periods

semester assignments; model assignments

student presentations, preferences + volunteers for 10 Sept?

[break--5-10 minutes?]

10 Sept. assignments, discussion questions, presenters?

Romanticism big, baggy concept, full of contradictions, like us

objectives, historical period

Sample poems: final exam


Discussion Questions:


For poetry by Poe, Dickinson, & Whitman


1. How do the poems differ in style and content? What do they have in common (that might be Romantic)


formal or fixed verse


free verse


2. What attitudes, impulses, or images may be called Romantic? Contrast Realism?


3. Do the things we call "Romantic" have anything in common? Contrast Realism?




Monday, 3 September: Labor Day HolidayNo class meeting

Monday, 10 September 2018: Terms for Romanticism

Terms: Gothic, Sublime, Romance, Transcendentalism; terms; Romanticism

Reading assignment(s): Transcendentalism: Ralph Waldo Emerson, selections from Nature (1836)

Gothic: Edgar Allan Poe, Ligeia (1839, 1845)     (Poe Style Sheet)

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s)Rudy Rios (Emerson); Virginia DeLeon (Poe)

Emily Dickinson, [I felt a funeral in my brain]   (Dickinson style sheet)
poetry reader / discussion leader:  instructor


Web Review: Hudson River School of American Painters  Web Reviewer: instructor (periods) (postponed)

Agenda:  email? presentation preferences + poetry prsns

preview midterm: terms; Romanticism & question 2 + romance narrative (objectives)

Transcendentalism > Emerson: Rudy

Gothic > Poe: Virginia

discussion leaders assignment


formal verse & free verse: Dickinson

next week's assignments (forms > history) > midterm

return presentation preferences (some assigned in coming week)

nature as default Romantic setting

Discussion Questions:

1. Identify elements of Romanticism in Emerson's & Poe's texts. If you had to explain these writers or texts as examples of Romanticism, what passages from the texts would you identify? What stylistic qualities or content-themes can be identified in these passages?

(i.e., you'll be doing this on the midterm)

2. How do Poe's and Emerson's versions of Romanticism converge or differ? How are they both still Romanticism?

3. For Romantic style, identify the gothic, the sublime, correspondence, and the romance narrative in both texts ( symbols?).


4. Transcendentalism (Emerson) and the Gothic (Poe) are two of the most recurrent styles in American Romanticism. How are they both "Romantic" and thus potentially similar? How do they differ from or complement each other?

gothic as dark Romantic setting

Monday, 17 September 2018: early Romantic fiction (1820s)

Reading assignment(s): Washington Irving, Rip Van Winkle & The Legend of Sleepy Hollow


text reader(s) / discussion leader(s): Clark Omo [from 2016 course] (Rip Van Winkle); instructor (Sleepy Hollow)

Clark also demonstrates Model Assignments Presentation for midterms

poetry: Walt Whitman, "There was a Child Went Forth"    (Whitman style sheet)
poetry reader / discussion leader:


terms: Romantic rhetoric and diction; sentimental stereotypes; romance narrative

Agenda: where are we in course? historically?

periods of literature: Enlightenment / Age of Reason  1700s > Romanticism late 1700s > Realism (late 1800s)

Hudson River School of American Painters

presentation assignments

Rip Van Winkle discussion: Clark Omo

Sleepy Hollow discussion: instructor


midterm; next week's assignments & presenters (Tabatha, Curtis)

narrative genres > romance narrative

poetry: Whitman

Discussion Questions: (overall question): Why do people remember and like these stories and still have some kind of appetite for them? How do they count as both popular and classic literature?


1. Besides cartoons and movies, how and why does everyone already know the stories of Rip Van Winkle and Sleepy Hollow, even if you've never read them before? (Not asking for practical answers but analysis of why these stories remain relevant or memorable to modern America.)


2. What about these stories is essentially American and appeals to American readers? How are these stories still about America?


3. Identify the gothic (esp. the wilderness gothic), the sublime, and correspondence in Rip Van Winkle & Sleepy Hollow.


4. Historicism: How do we learn history from fiction, and how does fiction shape history? (+ historical fiction)


5. Rip Van Winkle and Sleepy Hollow are early Romanticism, but also late Classical-Enlightenment, esp. in use of Satire. How is the characterization satirical or comical / humorous?? (see Periods of Literature)


5a. Romanticism usually isn't funny—why not?  (Realism tends to be more humorous, e.g. Mark Twain, Ben Franklin.) How are the stories told by Rip Van Winkle & Sleepy Hollow comedy as well as romance narrative? (narrative genres)


Monday, 24 September 2018: Women's Domestic Romance (1850s)

Reading assignment(s): Chapters from Susan B. Warner, The Wide, Wide World (1850) (chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 10, 15)

Chapters from Maria Susanna Cummins, The Lamplighter (1854) (chapters 1 & 2)

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s)Tabatha Romero (more Warner, less Cummins)

Web Review / Outside Text: Classic, Popular, & Representative Literature; sentiment / sentimentality; alternative concepts of the American Renaissance; Second Great Awakening Web Reviewer: instructor


Model Assignments Presentation: 2017 midterm exams (long & short essay samples):  Curtis Crunk


poetry: Poe, "Sonnet—To Science"  (Poe Style Sheet)

poetry reader / discussion leader: Instructor

Agenda: assignments after midterm > midterm


midterm samples: Curtis


Romanticism & Enlightenment; Literary styles or periods: (Romanticism and Realism)

Poe poem


Classic, Popular, & Representative Literature; alternative American Renaissance


Discuss Wide World & Lamplighter: Tabatha Romero


Romanticism & religion: history: the Great Awakening

Romanticism and romance; gothic; Romantic rhetoric

Discussion Questions: 1. Identify Romantic themes and the romance narrative in Wide, Wide World and Lamplighter.


2. The Wide, Wide World (1850) was the USA's best-selling novel until Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-2); The Lamplighter (1854) sold even more. How do today's texts resemble popular and classic literature then and now? What are these texts' critical strengths and weaknesses? What pro's or cons for studying historic popular literature?


2a. Identify & evaluate sentiment or sentimentality—what reactions to scenes of tears? everyday life? How Realistic? How Romantic?


3. Evaluate the evangelical content of both texts. How to teach such texts in a public university? What pro's & cons to treating as literature or history? (e.g., The Second Great Awakening) What values compatible with or contrary to Romanticism may conversion or evangelism emphasize?)

4. Together with religious obedience and self-control, how does the novel also indirectly represent Romantic rebellion and passion? (Compare Jane Eyre (1847).) How are Romantiism and Christianity compatible or not?

Monday1 October 2018: midterm exam & research proposal  No class meeting—email midterms due by midnight,  Wednesday 3 October.

Monday, 8 October 2018: Poe Poetry & Stories

Reading assignment(s): Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher; William Wilson; selections from The Philosophy of Composition; The Raven

Poe Style Sheet (includes biographical information)

terms: Byronic hero, biographical fallacy, gothic, sublime, formal verse, romance, desire & loss

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s): Tommy Brewer (Raven); Brandon Burrow (Usher)

Web Review / Outside Text
: Romantic music Reviewer:  instructor


Agenda: Romantic classical music

midterms; Romanticism & romance


The Raven: Tommy

[break]+ Peer Gynt suite

next week's assignments

Poe, House of Usher: Brandon

William Wilson 

Discussion Questions: (Poe's biographical information at Poe Style Sheet)

Overall discussion: How does Poe stand as the USA's "most Romantic author" in terms of style, persona, subject matter, & various Romantic attributes? (specific terms & questions below)


1. In light of how un-Romantic Poe's life was, how and why do we romanticize his image? Compare the Byronic Hero.


2. Identify the Romance narrative: Desire and loss or love and loss in Poe's life and writings


3. Identify the gothic in Poe's writings. How is Poe's gothic classic-European + psychological? (compare / contrast "wilderness gothic" in Sleepy Hollow) House 1,2, 4, 7, 17, 24; Wilson 4, 9, 11, 24-5     

3a. Why does the gothic matter? Is it just superficial style, or potential larger meaning?


4. How is "Twinning" (e.g. William Wilson) both gothic + psychological? (cf. doppelganger) House 25, 35, 38, Wilson 15 but 28; Man 13, 17   


5. Style: How / why may Poe's poetry and prose be regarded as "musical?" (see Poe Style Sheet)


6. Is Poe a Classic, Popular, or Representative author? Poe entertains, but what can you learn from him? (Art's purpose to entertain & instruct)


Monday, 15 October 2018: Hawthorne: Puritan Gothic

Reading assignment(s): Hawthorne, The Minister's Black Veil; Young Goodman Brown

Hawthorne Style Sheet; variations on the gothic

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s): Ruth Brown (Minister's Black Veil)Justin Butler (Goodman Brown)

Emily Dickinson, [Dare you see a soul at the White Heat?]  (Dickinson Style Sheet)

poetry reader / discussion leader: instructor


Agenda: midterms; instructional materials, review Poe genres

final exam: origins of gothic; variations on the gothic + Classic, Popular, or Representative


Minister's Black Veil: Ruth 

Young Goodman Brown: Justin



poetry: comparing Poe, Dickinson, Whitman

Dickinson poem

Discussion Questions:


1. How do Hawthorne's style and content make him a "classic" author, in comparison to Poe's popularity? What aspects make him almost popular? (see Hawthorne Style Sheet)


2. Compare / Contrast to Poe as gothic. How do the two authors use the style differently for different purposes?


3. How does Puritanism conform to a gothic treatment? Besides standard gothic paraphernalia (color code, secrets, past, crime / sin, death / decay), how does Hawthorne elevate the gothic to classic uses? (See variations on the gothic)


3a. historical referent: Puritan belief in original sin as common human nature. Compare or apply to "Minister's Black Veil"


4. "Young Goodman Brown" is widely taught, but the text's ethical or moral meaning is confusing because of Hawthorne's irony and ambiguity. Goodman seems to do the right thing by refusing to identify with sin and Satan, but the consequences of his choice are disastrous. What to do with such an outcome for "just say no?"


Monday, 22 October 2018: The antebellum Women's Movement

Reading assignment(s): Margaret Fuller, The Great Lawsuit

Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Declaration of Sentiments

Sojourner Truth, Ain't I a Woman? (Speech to the Women's Rights Convention)

Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Sojourner Truth, the Libyan Sibyl"

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s)Breanna Runnels (Fuller &/or Stanton);  Kristina Koontz (Truth & Stowe) 

terms: Transcendentalism; meritocracy

Agenda: assignments; course objectives; romance narrative; Transcendentalism & Romanticism

Stanton &/or Fuller: Breanna


Truth &/or Stowe: Kristina


Discussion Questions: 1. How do today's writers qualify as Romantic figures—or not? What is Romantic (or not) about their personal styles, their writing styles, or their subjects?


2. How surprising is it to find a women's rights movement in antebellum USA? Note convergences of the women's movement with anti-slavery (Abolition) movement. How are such movements conceivably Romantic? Or, how do they anticipate or follow the romance narrative?


3. How may the romance narrative conform to the USA's national narrative of equality, liberty, progress by extension of rights? (Compare Declaration of Independence & U.S. Constitution.)


Specific questions for authors:

Margaret Fuller: How does Fuller use or vary the Transcendental style or themes developed by Emerson for gender analysis and women's equality? How does her style (content & technique) resemble Emerson and Thoreau but also differ from them?


Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Compare / contrast The Declaration of Sentiments with the Declaration of Independence .


Sojourner Truth was a unique and charismatic historical figure. What difference does her illiteracy make for literary studies? Why do students always seem to want more of her? (Compare to Poe?) What kind of challenge does she present to Stowe?

Monday, 29 October 2018: Slave Narratives: Romance & Reality

Reading assignment(s): Frederick Douglass, A Narrative of the Life (1845)   (Douglass author page)

Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861)

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s): Kyle W. Abshire  (Douglass); Anne Ngo (Jacobs)


terms: slave narrative; representative literature

Agenda:  Maps; assignments; next semester's courses: narratives of history; multiculturalism > representative literature (final exam)

Douglass: Kyle

Romantic form: individual in nature 10B

Jacobs: Anne

Symbols & color codes in Langston Hughes, "Dream Variations" & Countee Cullen, "From the Dark Tower"



Discussion Questions: 1. How do antebellum history and Romantic form (including the romance narrative) meet in the slave narratives? (Objectives 2 & 1)


1a. Unlike a Poe story, slavery really happened as history, but slave narratives also became popular literature. Why? What’s inherently “Romantic” about the slave narrative? How does the slave narrative resemble a romance narrative? (Sometimes Douglass is even classified as a Transcendentalist--Why?)


1b. What's not Romantic? At what points does historical Realism contradict Romanticism or disrupt the romance narrative?


2. Both authors, esp. Douglass, stress significance of literacy—what is the role of language in enabling outsiders into a culture? (Another meeting of literary form and history?) Compare contrast with Sojourner Truth?


3. How to discuss slavery, especially in a Confederate state like Texas? (standard defensive Anglo responses: "That was a long time ago." "We wouldn't have done that." "That's all fixed now." Analyze & criticize in terms of Romantic heroic individualism vs. Realistic sociall pressure!)


4. Back to history and Romantic form, how does Jacobs's narrative resemble a novel in its use of sentiment, domesticity, even the gothic?


5. How do people of color challenge Western Civilization's color code? (cf. Stowe, "Sojourner Truth", 39)



Monday, 5 November 2018: Civil Disobedience & Old-Time Religion

Reading assignment(s): Henry David Thoreau, Resistance to Civil Government (1849)

civil disobedience tradition(s)

Juan Nepomuceno Seguin, Personal Memoirs [relating to Texas Independence & Mexican-American War]

Emerson, Thoreau

discussion leader(s): Kristen Hoover (Thoreau & Emerson); instructor (Seguin)

Web Review / Outside Text: Mexican-American War  Web Reviewer: instructor

poetry: Edgar Allan Poe, "Annabel Lee" (ballad)   poetry reader / discussion leader: instructor (recording)

Agenda: final exam; question options (Civ Dis & morality)

Thoreau: Kristen



Mex-Am War: instructor

Seguin as representative literature ?

Poe poem: instructor; comparing Poe, Dickinson, Whitman


Background: Thoreau is best known as one of the major Transcendentalists and for writing Walden; or, Life in the Woods (1854) about living by himself in nature for a year.


Discussion Questions: 1. how does Thoreau's essay exemplify familiar forms of Transcendentalism, Romanticism, and the romance narrative? Where do Transcendentalism and Romanticism overlap or separate? (Venn Diagram) How does Thoreau's journey parallel Rip Van Winkle's and Young Goodman Brown's?


1a. If Thoreau is a Transcendentalist, how does "Resistance to Civil Government" advocating abolition of slavery and civil disobedience challenge or expand our ideas of Thoreau and of Transcendentalism? Or maybe confirm?


2. How does Emerson's eulogy Thoreau romanticize its subject? What are the charms and costs of heroic individualism?


2a. How much is Thoreau, like Poe or Emily Dickinson, something like a fictional character in the study of American literature—a figure whom literary people embrace, imitate, or reject? What is the nature or style of this character? What picture of Transcendentalism develops through Thoreau?


4. How do Seguin's Memoirs qualify as representative literature? That is, Mexican American literature barely appears in normal American Renaissance studies, even though the Mexican-American War took place during this time. How may Seguin's Memoirs be included (or not) as part of classic American literature or as a statement of Mexican American cultural history at the time?


4a. What challenges to teaching representative literature? (e.g. defensiveness, keep head down, fear of being called racist or sexist, fatigue)


Monday, 12 November 2018: Stowe & Uncle Tom's Cabin

Reading assignment(s): Harriet Beecher Stowe, selections from Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-2)

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s): Lauren Kruse

Web Review / Outside Text: Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture: a multi-media archive  Web Reviewer:

Web Review / Outside Text: Reminiscences of Levi Coffin on The Quaker Page Web Reviewer:

Instructor reviews: Beecher family, sentimentality,domesticity civil disobedience; Religion in North America

Agenda: schedule, assignments 

UTC website: instructor

Uncle Tom's Cabin discussion: Lauren

civil disobedience (final exam): Thoreau > Levi Coffin: 

North Star as symbol?

Discussion Questions: 1. In our discussions of Classic, Popular, and Representative Literature in the American Renaissance, observe how a history-making fiction like Uncle Tom's Cabin may fulfill all three types or appeals at once. How is Uncle Tom's Cabin Classic, Popular, and Representative, all at once, more or less? How may this account for the extraordinary impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin?  (Essay option C4 on final exam)


1a. As far as "representing" African America, how has Uncle Tom's Cabin been controversial for its representation of African Americans, especially as "sentimental stereotypes?"


2. How did Stowe become (in Lincoln's words) "the little lady who started this big war"? (i.e., the Civil War) What strategies does she use to make white readers sympathize or care? What does fiction achieve that the slave narratives or other nonfiction prose like Thoreau's Resistance to Civil Government did not? (For example, her absorption of historical materials like slave narratives or Levi Coffin's Reminiscences.)


3. How does Uncle Tom's Cabin combine domestic sentimentality (e.g., Wide, Wide World; Lamplighter) with political activism, particularly as civil disobedience? (Look for examples of civil disobedience in the slaves' activities relative to cruel masters.)


4. How might Stowe's appeal be both Transcendental and Evangelical? How might her style be both Romantic and Realistic? (Local Color movement)


5. If slavery is a sensitive subject, what about slavery + sexuality in the mid-1800s? How does Stowe manage the sexual nature of slavery for women like Eliza, Cassy, & Emmeline? Compare to Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. How do these writers find ways to speak the unspeakable or shameful?


6. [Question for Coffin's Reminiscences] If Uncle Tom's Cabin is fiction and Coffin's Reminiscences are nonfiction, how can you tell the two apart? What are the appeals or advantages of each? Why do most readers prefer fiction to nonfiction?


6a. [Additional questions for Coffin's Reminiscences] Observe differences and similarities between Stowe's and Coffin's representations of Civil Disobedience.


Monday, 19 November 2018:  Lincoln, Alcott, Whitman

Reading assignment(s): Abraham Lincoln, The House Divided Speech; The Gettysburg Address; The 2nd Inaugural Address

Hawthorne on Lincoln; Emerson on Lincoln; Frederick Douglass, descriptions of Lincoln from Life & Times of Frederick Douglass; Frederick Douglass, speech on Lincoln

Louisa May Alcott, from Hospital Sketches (1863)

Amendments 13-15 of the U.S. Constitution

text reader(s) / discussion leader(s)Tim Doherty (any)


Web Review / Outside Text: U.S. Civil War Casualties leader: instructor

poetry: Whitman, "The Wound-Dresser"  (Whitman style sheet)   comparing Poe, Dickinson, Whitman
poetry reader / discussion leader: Cynthia Cleveland

Agenda: schedule, assignments; periods:

rhetorical / poetic devices

discussion re Lincoln: Tim


U.S. Civil War Casualties

Romanticism & Realism

Alcott discussion: Tim


Whitman Civil War

Whitman poem: Cynthia

mystery, the sublime

young Lincoln

Overview & Overall Question: Our next-to-last class is our most historical day as it reaches the end of the American Renaissance with the U.S. Civil War (1861-65). What are the advantages and risks of reading literature in relation to history? What is gained or lost? (question option C3 on Final Exam) Can we imagine reading and discussing Amendments 13-15 of the U.S. Constitution as literature? What is gained or lost by doing so?


Discussion Questions for today's readings:

1. Writings about Lincoln: Recall popular images of Lincoln as "log cabin president," "Great Emancipator," and (with Thomas Jefferson) the best writer among U.S. Presidents: How do today's writings on Lincoln by Hawthorne, Emerson, Douglass reinforce, change, or extend this image? How does Lincoln begin to resemble a literary character or a religious / mythical figure?

2. Lincoln's writings: 2. What qualities of American Romanticism and the American Renaissance do Lincoln’s writings combine?

2a. As a political speaker, what figures of speech or rhetorical devices does Lincoln use that are comparable to those in literary texts? Consider extended metaphor, allusion, anaphora / parallelism, catalog. How does Lincoln sound biblical without violating separation of church and state?


2b. Previewing question C2 on Final Exam, what kind of morality does Lincoln espouse or represent? How does Lincoln write (or speak) morally but not divisively? In what ways may Lincoln's writings appear as "American scripture?"

Alcott memoir & Whitman poem: The American Civil War was among the first modern wars involving industrial firearms and massive military and civilian destruction, creating an enormous humanitarian crisis involving nearly a million casualties—


3. Compare to Thoreau and slavery / abolition: how do conscientious individuals respond besides fighting for their side in war?


4. In what ways is Alcott a Romantic or Transcendental author, and how or where is she Realistic? Note use of domesticity & sentiment. How are these qualities changed with patriotism? Also Alcott shows far more wit & humor or comedy than earlier Transcendentalists and Romantics—how? (Clue: relate to Realism) (Question C5 on final exam)

Louisa May Alcott

Monday, 26 November: No class meeting; Instructor keeps office hours 3-7 for consultations on research project


Research Project (Research Essay, Journal, or Conference Paper) due by midnight Wednesday, 28 Nov.


Monday, 3 December 2018: Life in the Iron Mills: Realism or Romanticism?

Reading assignment(s): Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills (1861)

Text reader(s) / discussion leader(s)

Instructor reviews: periods of literature; Realism

Poetry: Emily Dickinson, [A light exists in spring]    (Dickinson Style Sheet): instructor

Model Assignments Highlights: 2017 final exams:

Agenda: online evaluations; final exam

Romanticism & Realism periods & style

Iron Mills discussion

[15 minute break for evaluations?]

poetry essay assignment, Models:

Dickinson poem


Discussion Questions: 1. Identify the gothic adapting to an early industrial site! (final exam question C1)


1a. What other American Renaissance or Romantic styles appear? Consider: Transcendentalism, Evangelical Christianity?


2. After the Civil War, Romantic literary styles and subjects were succeeded by Realism. How does Life in the Iron Mills seem Realistic, and how does it cling to Romanticism?  (final exam question C5)


3. What are the different appeals of Romanticism and Realism? How do the two styles respond to different historical contexts?

Rebecca Harding Davis

Monday, 10 December 2018: final exam (email exams due by noon Wednesday 12 December)

No regular class meeting; classroom available to students during class period; instructor keeps office hours 3-7pm.


Course Objectives:

Unifying purpose: form = content

Unite literary forms (style, genre, narrative, symbols, etc.) with . . .

 content (literary & cultural history, periods, texts, authors); compare purpose of literature to entertain & inform.

Examples (many other possibilities):

Gothic = form or style + psychology (Poe, Hawthorne) or morality (Hawthorne: light as good, dark as evil, shades of gray); African American literature  as inversion of color colde

Romance narrative (form) as plot-patteern for individual desire, social progress, and nostalgia for loss of old magical world

Transcendentalism as intellectual idealism (incl. forms of ascendance ) + social reform (women's rights, abolition, etc.)

Poetry as style + subject: Poe as formal verse and formula-Romanticism; Whitman frees verse and opens poetry to non-poetic subjects;


Objective 1: Romantic terms and forms

1a. Romanticism: desire & loss, rebellion, nostalgia, idealism, the gothic, the sublime, the individual in nature or separate from the masses; correspondence; symbol; metaphor, pastoralj; contrast & compare with Realism.

1b. Romance narrative: quest / journey across physical, social, psychological boundaries to gain or regain transcendent dream.

1c. Romantic heroic individual: often formulaic but noble, fresh, and winning (or tragic); too good for this world or not of this world; innocent of anything but readiness to change or desire to re-invent the self or world; fair lady / dark lady or golden boy / Byronic hero

1d. Romantic genres:


Objective 2: History of Romanticism esp. in USA + American culture as Romanticism

Romanticism is an international artistic and cultural movement involving music, literature, painting, sculpture, dance, politics.

Dates: Romantic period in Europe: late 1700s-mid 1800s

USA’s Romantic period = the American Renaissance" of 1820s-1860s—the generation before the Civil War

Music: Beethoven, Wagner, Chopin, Schubert, Brahms, more

Politics: Napoleon, Lincoln, Daniel Webster, John Brown, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, more

Romanticism accompanies Western Europe's and the USA's “great transformation” of mass modern culture:


population grows, moves from farms or small towns to cities

nutrition, hygiene improve > lower infant mortality, longer life spans

social hierarchies > theoretical or actual equality

industrialization > rise of middle class consumer culture

industrial presses (steam-powered) provide new reading materials
(print literacy then may resemble computer literacy now)

improved communications (esp. telegraphs); early photography

increased schooling > rising literacy

improved transportation & communication >
growing awareness of other cultures, religions, evolutionary nature, astronomy, geology,

new technologies: medicine, early photography, steam power, fossil fuels

culture wars: traditional authority vs. modern knowledge

conservative cultural / religious reaction: 2nd Great Awakening, Millennialism


2a. Modern USA and Romanticism co-emerge and converge formally and historically. Individualism, rebellion, equality, and a sentimental love of nature may be identified with either “America” or “Romanticism.”


2b. Literature as symbolic code for problems and values of American culture: freedom, equality (race, gender, class); modernization and tradition; individualism, family values, community / nation; nature. 

Historical terms or movements associated with American Romanticism or the American Renaissance: