American Literary Movements Summary

Topics: Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Dean Howells Pages: 3 (812 words) Published: March 18, 2009
American Literary Movements

Puritanism (17th century) - a style of writing that adhered to five basic tenets of religious life: original sin, limited atonement, irresistible grace, perseverance of the saints, and predestination. Puritans believed that God divinely controls the universe and all humans, regardless of social or economic status, are equal in God’s sight. Central to Puritan success is the extreme self-determinism that still contributes to American idealism. Important writers of this period: William Bradford, Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, John Smith, and Edward Taylor. Classicism or Neoclassical Age (18th Century) a style of writing that valued reason and rational thought as well as traditional, formal form; it was an imitation of the ancient Greek and Roman art and literature; also referred to as the Age of Reason or the Enlightenment. Important writers of this period: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine. Romanticism (early 19th Century) a reaction to Classicism; new form of fictional literature that emphasized feeling over thinking and contained the following characteristics: focus on self, fascination with the supernatural or gothic, love of nature, yearning for the exotic or picturesque, deep-rooted idealism, and nationalism or love of country. Important writers of this period: Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving. Transcendentalism (19th Century) a movement based in New England that promoted the belief that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” experience and are better guides to the truth than the senses and logical reason are. Transcendentalists combined the “best” of Classicism and Romanticism; they believed in the value of classic tradition and still valued nature and the individual. They believed in the “Over-Soul,” a divinity who was present in all things. Important writers of this period: Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes,...
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