A New Nation: Romanticism

ROMANTICISM (1800-1855)

Historical context
In 1802, July 4, United States Military Academy opens at West Point, New York. Among its cadets will be Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, and Edgar Allan Poe.

In 1803, August 31, Lewis and Clark expedition sets out down the Ohio River.They will complete a three-year journey to the West Coast.

In 1806, Noah Webster issues his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language .

In 1809, Washington Irving publishes History of New York.

In 1814, Francis Scott Key writes "The Star-Spangled Banner."

In 1828, Noah Webster publishes American Dictionary of the English Language.
  • Short stories, novels, poetry
  • Imagination over reason; intuition over fact
  • The law of the universe was not static but dynamic with change, growth, and development
  • Focused on the fantastic of human experience
  • Writing that can be interpreted two ways: surface and in depth
  • Focus on inner feelings
  • Gothic literature (sub-genre of Romanticism)
    Use of the supernatural
    Characters with both evil and good characteristics
    Dark landscapes; depressed characters
Pre-Romantic Writers
"Irving, Cooper, Bryant, and Poe are entitled to several 'firsts.' They were among the first professional writers in American, and among the first American writers whose works are still widely read. Irving, Cooper, and Poe developed or helped introduce into America such important fictional forms as the tale, the short story, the novel, and the romance. Bryant and Poe gave a new emphasis to the lyrical and musical qualities of poety. And all four writers were among the first American Romantics" ("First Harvest" Adventures in American Literature - Heritage Edition).