Ralph Waldo Emerson

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What is the contribution of Ralph Waldo Emerson to American literature?

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Emerson was one of the founders of Transcendentalism in America. An offshoot of the Romantic movement, Transcendentalism and its writers focused on creating a uniquely American voice in literature. Part of a movement called the New England Renaissance or the American Renaissance, Transcendentalism established the idea that American literature should have its own concerns and voice and should not simply try to emulate European literature. Instead, Emerson's writings, such as "Self-Reliance," stressed the importance of developing one's own talents and emphasized the importance of cultivating what is great in oneself. By extension, his writings emphasized the importance of developing an American literature that was not concerned with European models. Over time, as Emerson believed in the freedom of each person, he became an advocate of abolition, and he inspired others to fight against slavery.

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