American Literature:Transcendentalism 1840-1855

Transcendentalism – stressed individualism, intuition, nature and self-reliance.

A.Historical Context

  • The Civil War
  • Lincoln’s assassination
  • Turmoil of Reconstruction

B.New poetic forms

  1. Walt Whitman 1819-1892
  • He rejected conventional themes, forms and subjects
  • He used long lines to capture the rhythm of natural speech, free verse and everyday vocabulary
  • He wrote ”Song of Myself”

      2.Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

  • Her poetry broke with convention: it didn’t look right and it didn’t rhyme; it was too bold and too radical
  • It had a concrete imagery, a forceful language and a unique style.



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