Where We Came FromPrevious Literary Movements • Literature of Puritanism – Work Ethic • Literature of the Revolutionary Period • American Dream • The Melting Pot • Basic rights of man • Emergence of the Other (women, native people, African Americans) • Literary Nationalism 1800-1840 • Nationalism (excessive pride) • Self identity • Self examination and criticism • Begins real American literature • Respected in Europe • Professional writers
ROMANTICISM • Extraordinary people in extraordinary situations • Truth in absolutes • predicated on stereotypes • Stress on past (Greek Classical period) • Treats subjects emotionally • Celebration of artists • Probe to exaggeration • Nature glorified • Belief in afterlife • Authors • Literary Nationalism • Fireside Poets • Romantics
TRANSCENDENTALISM • Truth = communion with God in nature • Belief in individualism • Rejects institutions • Emphasis on simplicity • Importance of experience • "majority of one" • "self-reliance" • "man thinking“ • Non-conformity • language and style influenced by Romanticism Authors • Ralph Waldo Emerson • Henry David Thoreau
ANTI-TRANSCENDENTALISM • Belief in the potential destructiveness of the human spirit • Belief in individual truths, but no universal truths, and the truths of existence are deceitful and disturbing • Evil is an active force in the universe • Focus on the man’s uncertainty and limitations in the universe • Nature = indifferent to mankind • Human nature = hypocritical, apathetic • Authors • Herman Melville • Edgar Alan Poe • Nathaniel Hawthorne
What Comes Next? • If we accept the pendulum theory of history (that every period moves to its opposite extreme), what type of voice can you predict reacts to the Romantic Period? Washington Crossing the Delaware Emanuel Leutze1851 The Agnew Clinic Thomas Eakins 1889
Sectionalism, Industrialism and Literary Regionalism • In 1858, Abraham Lincoln had warned his countryman “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” • Events in the dark winter of 1860-1861 would prove him correct • After Lincoln’s minority election to the presidency: • South Carolina would vote to secede from the Union in December 1860 • Six other states of the Deep South quickly followed suit • When Confederate troops successfully attacked Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor , Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina elected to join their fellows in defense of slavery and the sovereign principles of states’ rights
Cost of the Civil War • Cost of the Civil War • The Human Cost • 1,094,543 Casualties • The North lost one out of ten • 110,100 in battle • 224,580 to disease • The South lost one out of four • 94,000 in battle • 64,000 to disease • Two percent of US population died in the Civil War, with only WWII claiming more lives; • Economic Cost • Estimated at 6.6 billion, which would be 165 billion today
Historical Overview • While an older generation of historians tended to view the Civil War as the watershed of modern American nationalism (calling it “the second American Revolution), more recent historians suggest that the real factors that determined the future of the nation were the facts that: • The country was still badly fragmented after the war • Congress did little to address this and other problems
Historic Overview • And even though the language of the Constitution itself was amended to affirm an expanded – that is, colorblind – definition of individual rights and liberties, meaningful implementation of that vision for African Americans would have to wait for almost another century
Historical Overview • At the same time, however, the war did unleash a range of social and economic forces that, eventually, would radically transform American life: • The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 set aside vast tracts of land in the West to finance the construction of a transcontinental railroad • The Homestead Act of 1862 enabled yeoman farmers to have cheaper access to government-held land • The Morril Act of 1862 established Federal support for agricultural colleges
Historical Overview • Mobilization for war on such an unprecedented scale also had unforeseen effect on American life: • The need to achieve organizational efficiency in both military and civilian branches of government gave rise to an almost wholly new group of managers able to transfer their increasingly professional skills to the business world after the war.
Historical Overview • As an example: Keeping thousands of men in uniform required an entirely new approach to apparel manufacturing. • At the start of the war, when almost all of the troops came from volunteer contingents of various state militias, mothers, wives and daughters would have sewed individual uniforms at home. • Before long, however, the need for additional soldiers made the draft inevitable. The unprecedented demand for huge numbers of identical trousers, jackets, boots, and other mainstays of military regimentation sparked the rapid modernization of the clothing industry by introducing “standard” apparel sizes. • The federal government was the first consumer to make its purchases off the rack. • Take that Old Navy!
Historical Overview • These new concepts of scale, efficiency, and organizational complexity would eventually make possible what one influential historian referred to as “the incorporation of American” – or the way we live now. • Politically, the goal of securing equal rights for freed slaves largely failed. • Likewise, failure to integrate the high-minded ideals of New England into effective public policy also proved a crucial turning point in America’s intellectual history
Historical Context • Indeed the period following the Civil War was marked by an affronting sense of the hard realities of life and the more sobering aspects of the human experience. • By the End of the Civil War: • The Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment had abolished slavery • The industrial North had defeated the agrarian South • Social order grew based on mass labor and mass consumption; • Steam power replaced water power • Machines replaced hand labor • Extreme contrast between the rich and poor (the Gilded Age) • The Industrial Revolution had begun
Historic Overview • Migration westward expanded the U.S. from the Atlantic to the Pacific • Native American populations displaced and subjugated; • Growth of Industry • Steelmaking, the nation’s dominant industry • Alternating electrical current (1886) • American petroleum industry begins • Growth of population • Total population doubled from 1870 to 1890 • National income quadrupled • Gap between rich and poor widened
Historic Overview • The Effects of the Industrial Revolution: • Migration from rural to urban areas • Independent, skilled workers replaced by semi-skilled laborers; • Large corporations were established, devaluing the personal relationship between management and workers or company and customers. • Mass Communication and Migration • Coast-to-coast communication • Pony Express (1860)—10 days Telegraph (1861)—just seconds to communicate across country Transatlantic telegraph cable (1866) allowed instant communication with Europe Telephone patented (1867) By 1900, 1.3 million telephones in U.S. Coast-to-coast travel Transcontinental Railroad (1869) By 1889, coast-to-coast travel—4 days Citizens witnessed the entirety of there country and grew curious for more
The invention ignited an artistic and scientific frenzy… Best portrait makers could bring out the very human essence of a subject… The advantages of photography: immediacy, reliable representation, low cost, etc… Massive social changes reflected in literature & photography. 1861-65 - Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner: honest photographic record of the Civil War. Photography, like literary Realism and Regionalism showed TRUTH. Photography and Realism
Historic Overview • Intellectual Revolution: Changes in Thinking brought about by Changes in Society • Changes in science • Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species • Changes in psychology • Sigmund Freud - unconscious system of ideas that governs human reactions and response • Changes in philosophy • Karl Marx - human history as the result of class struggles (The Communist Manifesto) • William James – American pragmatism – truth is: • tested by its usefulness or practical consequences • a commodity accessible on the surface of things • perceptible to the senses and verifiable through experience
Historical Overview • During this period, America’s literary traditions also shifted. By the time Lee surrendered at Appomattox, his army’s ranks were severely depleted, and the same was true of the roll call of American authorship. Washington Irving, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne had died. Herman Melville was in professional exile and Ralph Waldo Emerson had published his last book. • The nation now looked to new literary voices whose accents were not always so comforting. The cultural supremacy of New England, so long taken for granted was now open to challenge.
Historical Overview • In essence: • The experience of war had expanded American awareness of its boundaries, physical, emotional, and spiritual. • The world of the naive, innocent, optimistic, and contained past appeared hopelessly outdated and absurdly idealistic. • America enters adulthood: Realism is born
Realism “Nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.” William Dean Howells
Historical Overview: Realism • As the novelist Henry James had occasion to observe in 1879, “…the Civil War marks an era in the history of the American mind. It introduced into the national consciousness a certain sense of proportion and relation, of the world being a more complicated place than it had hitherto seemed, the future more treacherous, success more difficult. At the rate at which things are going, it is obvious that good Americans will be more numerous than ever; but the good American, in the days to come, will be a more critical person than his complacent and confident grandfather. He has eaten of the tree of knowledge.”
A Powerful Reaction Against Romanticism • The Civil War and the social, political, and cultural events following the war created an environment that demanded a literary voice that honored that experience. Romanticism with his dreamy, optimistic, and highly emotional emphasis proved false in light of the turmoil of the period. • This voice would serve as a reaction against Romanticism • rejected heroic, adventurous, or unfamiliar subjects • Note the unmistakable mocking treatment of Romantic ideals - Emmeline, Tom, and the traditions of the South in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) • Authors sought to portray life as they saw it, insisting that the ordinary and local were just as suitable for art as the sublime. “Nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.” William Dean Howells
From these social changes come two literary movements • Realism, • first begun as the local color movement • Includes regionalism • The tall tale • Naturalism • Realism • Denotation – a literary movement that developed towards the end of the Civil War and stressed the actual (reality) as opposed to the imagined or fanciful • Begins in France, as realisme, a literary doctrine calling for “reality and truth in the depiction of ordinary life.” • Grounded in the belief that there is an objective reality which can be portrayed with truth and accuracy as the goal; • The writer does not select facts in accord with preconceived ideals, but rather sets down observations impartially and objectively.
Characteristics of Realism • Subject matter—ordinary people and events; • Purpose—Verisimilitude, the truthful representation of life; • Point of View—omniscient and objective • Characters—middle class, psychological realism • Class is important; the novel has traditionally served the interests and aspirations of an insurgent middle class. • Diction is natural vernacular, not heightened or poetic; tone may be comic, satiric, or matter-of-fact. • Focus away from New England and other intellectual centers and out to the Midwest and West (regionalism) • Plot de-emphasized • Focus on everyday life • Complex ethical choices often the subject • (“I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it.”) • Events are made to seem the inevitable result of characters’ choices • (“Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can’t stand it. I been there before. ”)
Characteristics of Realism, cont... • Subject matter drawn from “our experience” – the common, the ordinary, the probable • Focuses on the norm of daily experience – dialect, geography, regional manners.
Romance and Realism: Taste and Class Romance • Aspired to the ideal • Thought to be more genteel since it did not show the vulgar details of life • Harks back to the noble past • Emotional Realism • Thought to be more democratic • Critics stressed the potential for vulgarity and its emphasis on the commonplace • Potential “poison” for the pure of mind • Exists in the unfiltered present • Neutral (observant)
Themes in Realism • Humans control their destinies • characters act on their environment rather than simply reacting to it. • Slice-of-life technique • often ends without traditional formal closure, leaving much untold to suggest man’s limited ability to make sense of his life. • Pragmatism • Social Criticism • Importance of place--regionalism, "local color" • Sociology and psychology • Rejection of Romanticism
Defining Strain VOICE: the tonal qualities, attitudes, or entire personality of a speaker as revealed directly or indirectly through sound, diction, and other stylistic devices "Voice reminds us that a human being is behind the words of a poem, that he is revealing his individuality by means of the poem, and that this revelation may be the most significant part of what we receive from the poem."
Published in 1885 Set in pre-Civil War years (40-50 years before publication) Slavery ended, but racism still rampant (Jim Crow Laws) Mark Twain, a Southerner, undergoes moral transformation. Suggestion (via Ken Burns’s American Voices) is that this transformation sprung from a trip along the river years after Twain left the South. Here, along the shore of his beloved river, Twain witnessed the great failings of Reconstruction and the ubiquity of Jim Crow (a new slavery). The impression stuck with him. Huckleberry Finn and Realism
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a COMING-OF-AGE NOVEL: moral growth of a comic character in an physically beautiful yet morally repugnant setting PICARESQUE NOVEL: typically satirical story that illustrates with realistic and witty detail the adventures of a roguish hero of lower social standing who lives by their common sense in a corrupt society.
Huckleberry Finn as a Literary Milestone “Something new happened in Huck Finn that had never happened in American literature before. It was a book…that served as a Declaration of Independence from the genteel English novel… …[It] allowed a different kind of writing to happen: a clean, crisp, no-nonsense, earthly vernacular…it was a book that talked. Huck’s voice, combined with Twain’s satiric genius, changed the shape of fiction in America, and African-American voices had a great deal to do with making it what it was.” - Dr. Shelley Fishkin, 1995
The Linch Pin Between the Movements • Linch Pin - "something [or someone] that holds the various elements of a complicated structure together." • The transition between two contrasting movements can be clearly identified in one man, Walt Whitman, who incorporating both views in his works
Walt Whitman: America’s Poet • His poetry celebrated... • The individual • common man • American democracy • American industry • American ingenuity • mystery of existence (not to be feared, but embraced) • The body and its functions • He was • A humanist • A teacher • An optimist • Supporter of the Union • Among the most influential poets in the American canon • Highly controversial • Gay And your very flesh shall be a great poem I celebrate myself, and sing myself,And what I assume you shall assume,For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. Be curious, not judgmental Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes Afoot and lighthearted I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me.
Walt Whitman, cont… • Leaves of Grass (1855): collection of poems; attempt to reach common person through an American epic • "Father of Free Verse" -- sought to capture America's voice through his poetry • Whitman created new poetic forms and subjects to fashion a distinctly American type of poetic expression. • He rejected conventional themes, traditional literary references, allusions, and rhyme—all the accepted forms of poetry in the 19th century. The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people."
Whitman’s Themes • Transcendent power of love, brotherhood, and comradeship • Imaginative projection into others’ lives • Optimistic faith in democracy and equality • Nature and return • Belief in regenerative and illustrative powers of nature and its value as a teacher • Equivalence of body and soul and the unabashed exaltation of the body and sexuality
Whitman’s Poetic Techniques Whitman declared his poetry would have: • Long lines that capture the rhythms of natural speech. • Free verse = = lack of metrical regularity and conventional rhyme • Vocabulary drawn from everyday speech. • A base in reality, not morality. • Exception: “O Captain My Captain” • Written on the passing of Abraham Lincoln • Traditional Forms • Traditional Subject • Invoked in the last scene of Dead Poet’s Society – (boys on desk upon seeing their “captain” and his passing) Use of repeated images, symbols, phrases, and grammatical units • Use of enumerations and catalogs • Use of anaphora (initial repetition) in lines and “Epanaphora” (each line hangs by a loop from the line before it) • Contrast and parallelism in paired lines
Whitman’s Use of Language • Idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation. • Words used for their sounds as much as their sense; foreign languages • Use of language from several disciplines • The sciences: anatomy, astronomy, botany (especially the flora and fauna of America) • Businesses and professions, such as carpentry • Military and war terms; nautical terms
What’s So Shocking about the “Good Grey Poet” • Why were so many writers shocked by Whitman? • His lack of regular rhyme and meter (free verse) and nontraditional poetic style and subject matter shocked more traditional writers. • He also wrote poetry with unabashedly sexual imagery and themes, some of them homoerotic. Examples include the Calamus poems and “I Sing the Body Electric.”
Whitman’s Influence • Along with Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman stands as one of two giants of American poetry in the nineteenth century. • Whitman’s poetry would influence such Harlem Renaissance writers as Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson. • Whitman influenced Beat poets such as Allen Ginsburg. • Chilean writer Pablo Neruda claimed to have been influenced by Whitman. • Whitman’s poetry was a model for French symbolists, such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud. • Modernist poets such as Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and W.H. Auden were also influenced by Whitman. • Let’s listen: From Favorite Poem Project, “Song of Myself” as read by Boston’s John Doherty
Walt Whitman is indeed considered one of America’s most seminal and most influential voices. But in this designation, he must share the spotlight with another poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). Both Whitman and Dickinson broke with traditional forms and pioneered new ones. Both delivered to the world completely unique and original voices. Both influenced and contributed to modern poetry. Both poets reflected on themes of God, nature, death and immortality Two Transitional Poets
Two Iconoclasts, Two Distinctly Different Voices • Though they shared some similarities, mainly in their iconic stature and their shared themes, Dickinson and Whitman were almost foils in the manner in • Their size • Their volume • Their approach • Their structure • Their vision of the world
Walt Whitman Poems long (epic) and seemingly complex Talkative, expansive, rambling, approachable Lack of structure. Poems tend to run on and on; there was no set length for his poems, stanzas, or even lines. Irregular meter No rhyme Father of free verse or poetry without a rhyme scheme) Idiosyncratic punctuation and spelling The “I”, the individual. “I celebrate myself” but sense of commonality of experience with all Americans Work is muscular and fleshy. Very physical. Operates in a very physical realm, concrete objects and specific scenes drawn from daily life. (the city) Moves among and observes people, gregarious, social, extroverted and outward Voice is unrestrained and exuberant, bold and optimistic Audience is the nation. Ambition was to become the American national poet. Self-promoting Emily Dickinson Poems short and seemingly simple Compact and concise, dense with meaning, illusive Definite structure. She wrote ballad stanzas, which are four line stanzas Alternating in iambic tetrameter and trimeter. Meter derived from Psalms and Protestant hymns ABCB rhyme schemes. Extensive ue of slant rhyme (near rhymes) Extensive and consistent use of dashes and internal capitalization, illuminating meaning Though intensely personal in their reflections, focuses on the universal experience Very much in the landscape of her own mind, highly cerebral and introspective realm. Thoughts and feelings, abstract concepts Secluded, constrained, alienated from the world, reclusive, introverted and inward. Voice is reserved, reflective, tentative at times (can at times appear dry and witty) Wrote for herself (seemingly no audience). Sought anonymity. Life of obscurity. Only had seven poems published (by friends) but wrote nearly 1,700. Distinct Differences
Emily Dickinson Bio Life A. She was born in a Puritan’s family. Her father was a famous lawyer. B. She received college education. C. She lived a leisure and simple life and kept single all her life. She enjoyed gardening and writing and tried to avoid visitors. (Her life style is similar with Jane Austen’s.) D. She wrote 1775 poems, but only seven of them published in her life time. E. Before her death, she asked her sister to burn all her poems. However, her sister published those beautiful poems.
Emily Dickinson was a witty woman, sensitive, full of humanity and with a genius for poetry. For all the convention in which she was immersed, she embraced nonconformity (question protocols of her faith and traditional roles of wome) While she was living in almost total seclusion, she wrote in secret whatever she was able to feel, to see, to hear and whatever she was able to imagine. She wrote whenever and wherever. Although she guarded her poems even from her family, 1775 poems were discovered and published after her death. However, as the only noteworthy woman poet in American literature of the 19th century, she had only seven of her poems published during her lifetime, and it was not until the beginning of the 20th century that her genius was widely recognized. Emily Dickinson Bio
Despite her seclusion, Emily Dickinson covered a wide range of subjects in poetry. Her favorite subjects are love, death or natural beauty. In her writing she wrote about life and death, expecting to understand the meaning of life by understanding the meaning of death. Living in the 19th century, a comparatively religious era, she did not belong to any organized religion. However, she wrote of God, man and nature; she probed into the spiritual unrest of man and often doubted about the existence and benevolence of God, because she felt that wild nature was her church and she was able to converse directly with God there. Emily Dickinson Bio
Use of paradox – “The most paradoxical of poets. The very poet of paradox” (intimate yet universal in appeal) She may contradict herself in the same poem – why Homonyms – double use and meaning of words (“I” vs “eye”) Foils Death and life Faith and doubt Power of god and power of individual Seeing – the power of sight Faith – waxing and waning Color – nontraditional use and symbolism Slant rhyme – not really rhyme, near rhyme, internal sound Attempts at closure. What to Watch For