ROMANTICISM (1800-1855)

Historical context


  • 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


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

Anti-Transcendentalism was a literary movement that essentially consisted of only Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville.

They focused on the limitations and potential destructiveness of the human spirit rather than on the possibilities.


Short stories, novels, and poetry

Major Writers

  • Herman Melville (1819-1891)
    Ranked as one of America's top novelists, but recognized by few in his own time
    Anti-transcendentalist: Billy Budd
    Moby Dick: did not sell – only his friend Hawthorne liked it - now considered America's greatest prose epic