Transcendentalism Definition: An idealistic philosophical and social movement that developed in New England around 1836. Transcendentalists believe that truths about life and death can be found by going outside the world of senses.
Key Elements • Everything is a reflection of the over soul. • The natural world is a doorway to the spiritual/ideal world. • Intuition is superior to rationality. • Self-reliance and individualism outweigh blind conformity to custom, tradition, and authority. • Transcendentalists are non-conformists, they do not follow what the rest of society does.
Spiritual Movement • Brought people to be one with nature. • Generally taken as a protest against the general thought of culture and society. • Religion was almost dropped and nature started to be praised. • Natural world is a door to the spiritual world. • Nature replaced God. • Lead mainly by Emerson and Thoreau.
Spiritual Movement • Emerson believed that every individual can discover this higher truth of “transcendent forms” through intuition • There was no specific doctrine such as the bible or Torah. • The concept of inner body within the physical body was borrowed by the Quakers. • The Orthodox concept of God was mostly out shun by the Transcendentalist thought. (seeing God in the creation as apposed to seeing him as the creator)
Transcendentalism in comparison to Modernism • They both were seen as rebellion against what was known as normal. • Modernism is more rebellion as where transcendentalism is the love of nature and the belief that we are one with nature. • Rejected the existence of a compassionate, all-powerful Creator God • Transcendentalism was mostly about nature as where modernism was about a person as himself and showing his or her personal thoughts, it was a rebellion.
TranscendentalArtist Thomas Cole (1801-1848) Had European roots Saw nature as majestic Thought people completed the circle of harmony The Oxbow
Transcendental Artist Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) • Lived in Wyoming • Spend a summer alone sketching Indians, wild animals, and landscape • The Rocky Mountains, Landers’s
Transcendental Artist Frederic Remington (1861-1909) • Known for painting cowboys, soldiers, and Native Americans • Loved the idea of the frontier • Admired heroic cowboys • Worked with bronze a lot
How Romanticism Became Transcendentalism • 1836 Ralph Waldo Emerson published Nature, beginning the literary movement • Transcendentalism was happening at the same time as Romanticism. However it was shorter than Romanticism. • The Transcendentalist started this movement as a response to the Industrial Revolution, they felt like it was destroying mankind whereas Romanticists were glorifying the revolutionary ideas • They believed that the ideas and knowledge that people had on their own without being educated came directly from God or his inspiration where the Romanticists just feared God as this higher being that created us. • The Transcendentalists believed that God lives within the person and all people are naturally good. They said when the brain and soul speak to each other it’s intuition. • Some Transcendentalists traveled abroad and read some European spiritual literature and were inspired with new ideas
Transcendental Architecture This is an example of an 1830’s home in West Virginia. Homes were made of logs and then had clapboards put over the logs and painted. This is the St. John’s Episcopal Church in Vermont that was finished in 1830. This school house was completed in New York the 1830’s. It was originally a store and a post office before becoming a school. It’s only 25 feet wide and 41 feet deep.
Ralph Waldo Emerson(May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) An American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century Published dozens of essays and spoke at more than 1,500 public lectures Known as a critic of the pressures of society in his time Self-Reliance and Nature are two of his most famous essays Self-Reliance: The main idea of this essay was the importance of avoiding conformity and individuality "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little Nature: Published anonymously in 1836 This essay is known as the first step into the transcendentalism movement Non-traditional appreciation for nature
Henry David Thoreau(July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) • An American author, poet, philosopher, naturalist, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist • Well-known abolitionist and refused to pay taxes • Known for his essay Walden published in 1854 • Walden: • Personal declaration of independence and a social experiment • Details Thoreau's experiences over the course of two years in a cabin he built near Walden Pond, which was on property owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, his friend and mentor
Stylistic Devices And Characteristics • Similar to Romanticism • Verbose language • Syntax includes commas and semi colons because of long sentence structure. • The view of God shifts from being omnipotent to being within each individual soul • Transcendentalists were strong believers in the power of the individual and divine messages • Transcendentalists have been known for meditation • Transcendentalists had different approaches to the movement • Emerson strongly believed in individuality and not conforming with the government • Whereas, Thoreau believed in removing oneself from society to focus on your personal relationship with Mother Nature and God