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Describe the major differences between the literary movements known as Romanticism and...

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jmeeter | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted October 30, 2012 at 5:47 PM via web

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Describe the major differences between the literary movements known as Romanticism and Transcendentalism. 

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted October 30, 2012 at 9:04 PM (Answer #1)

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Romanticism is typically described as emerging in the late 1700's and continuing through the early to mid 1800's, and it is probably not coincidental that its emergence roughly coincided with the American and French Revolutions, since Romanticism was a wholesale rethinking of how one experienced the world.  Old traditions and structures were breaking down, and the Romantics were writing about feelings, emotions, experiences, and one's place in the universe at the same time.  Romantics typically viewed novels as being a lesser form of expression than poetry, and the focus on emotional experience even led some Romantics to pen works meant to induce feelings of horror. 

The Transcendental movement, usually associated with the New England writers such as Emerson and Thoreau, was grounded in the idea of a spirituality of individuals, and a universe created by a God who was/is part of that universe.  Appreciation of nature as the organic expression of God's power in the universe played an important role in the beliefs of the Transcendentalists, as well as their belief that human beings were created by and for the glory of God.  Although this movement drew on many traditions and philosophies, including, but certainly not limited to the writings of the Buddha, Plato, and Confucius, it was most easily identifiable with elements of Christian theology.  The idea of faith, of a deeper "knowing" that transcended one's sensory experiences, was a feature of the writings of the transcendentalists, and was in direct contrast to the emphasis of the Romantics on one's personal feelings and perceptions.

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