December 19, 2011
American Renaissance Writers
The American Renaissance, in literary circles occurred during the middle to late 1800s. “One of the most important influences of the period was that of the transcendentalists” (Britannica, 2011). Major writers during this perid had a common bond. Their platform was ‘an idealic system of thought based on a belief in the essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of man, and the supremacy of insight over logic and experience for revelation of the deepest truths. (Britannica, 2011). Among these writers and philosophers were many great Americans such as Edgar Allen Poe and Ralph Waldo Emmerson. It is important to note; however, that during this period, women writers were more accepted and more common. This truth is evidenced through the writings of such great women as Harriott Beecher Stowe, Emily Dickenson, and Louise May Alcott. Culture, Politics, and Religion
The Renaissance had a profound influence on the course of the development of modern American society, culture, and, since it is a natural extension of both, artistic expression. The Renaissance influence in America brought about a new focus on humanism and as a result, a subsequent turning away from the dominant ideals put forth by the church. Although religion was still of the greatest influence throughout the period of the Renaissance, the dawning recognition of human potential and scientific inquiry shaped the course of Western history and does still influence contemporary American culture today. Before the Renaissance, writers generally tended to focus on issues of a religious nature. Countless texts instructed readers about how to live a pious life and discussed Christian heroes. The Renaissance brought about influence to new writers who sought to break with this tradition and present a more realistic version of life. Several authors from the Renaissance period had a significant effect on contemporary American society, especially in terms of either literary style and meaning as well as political thought. By introducing a new realism, they allowed the common person to enjoy tales and this tradition has continued in today’s society. (Smith, 2010). Harriett Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, encouraged everyday people to address such controversial topics as slavery, religious reform, and gender roles (Harriet Beecher Stowe's Life, 2011). Emily Dickinson is another woman who is renouned for her poetic writings during the period, although they were not published until after her death. “Her work was heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of seventeenth-century England, as well as her reading of the Book of Revelation and her upbringing in a Puritan New England town which encouraged a Calvinist, orthodox, and conservative approach to Christianity” (Swenson, 2011). Yet another female writer of the American Renaissance who made her mark on society was Louise May Alcott. She was determined to make a difference somehow for her poor family, and for our country, and she accomplished both before her death. She became “A beloved American novelist best known for her classic work Little Women, which she wrote in 1868. Her revolutionary views on womanhood and equality of people helped to move a nation forward in the idea that all people are created equal by God, male or female, black or white” (New World, 2011). Transcendentalism
The heart of the American Reniassance was transcendentalism, and transcendentalists. Ralph Waldo Emmerson clearly defines the thought processes of those involved in his famous quote made at a graduation ceremony at Harvard in 1837 when he said, “We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands; we will speak our own minds…A nation of men will for the first time exist, because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men” (Hampson, 2011). Though Harriet...