Emerson – The Father of Transcendenalism

ralph_waldo_emerson

In class today we began our study of the Transcendentalist – a group of close knit free-thinkers and non-conformist, largely from Massachusetts, that changed the future of American Literature. Please see the video below for the background notes on Transcendentalism, as well as background information on Emerson.

In class we are reading  his tenth essay, ‘Circles’, and completing an in-depth analysis of the extended metaphor of the circle and how Emerson connects the ideas of Nature, The Individual, Society, and God/Spirituality.

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

The Early Romantics – The Fireside Poets

photo

Until the third decade of the 19th century, America had little literature to call its own. Fireside poets represented a “coming of age” for the young country, as a first generation of poets took their name from the popularity of their works which were widely read as family entertainment (and in the schoolroom). These poets chose uniquely American settings and subjects, but their themes, meter, and imagery, however, were borrowed from  English tradition. Though not innovative, they were literary giants of their day, and by examining their poems for images of American daily life, politics and nature we can see the beginnings of the Romantic writings that follow.

 

You will be examining the poetry of  fireside poets – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendall Holmes, James Russell Lowell and William Cullen Bryant.

 

The Mount of the Holy Cross – Colorado

Longfellow is by far the most famous of the Fireside Poets. No other American poet, not even Robert Frost, has matched Longfellow’s popularity at the height of his career. A bust of Longfellow was placed in the Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey (alongside Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. Longfellow was a classmate of Nathaniel Hawthorn. He believed his task was to create in memorable form a common heritage for Americans and in the process to create an audience for poetry.

 

Picture1You should remember Bryant from our unit over Expansionism in American Literature, as we read his news article ‘On the Right to Strike’. The fame he won as a poet while in his youth remained with him as he entered his eighties; only Longfellow and Emerson were his rivals in popularity over the course of his life. He wrote poems, essays, and articles that championed the rights of workers and immigrants. In 1829, Bryant became editor in chief of the New York Evening Post, a position he held until his death in 1878. His influence helped establish important New York civic institutions such as Central Park and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1884, New York City’s Reservoir Square, at the intersection of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue, was renamed Bryant Park in his honor. “Thanatopsis,” if not the best-known American poem abroad before the mid nineteenth century, certainly ranked near the top of the list, and at home school children were commonly required to recite it from memory. At his death, all New York City went into mourning for its most respected citizen.

John Greenleaf Whittier was the son of two devout Quakers, he grew up on the family farm and had little formal schooling. From 1831 until the Civil War, he wrote essays and articles as well as poems, almost all of which were concerned with abolition. In 1833 he wrote Justice and Expedience urging immediate abolition. In 1834 he was elected as a Whig for one term to the Massachusetts legislature; mobbed and stoned in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1835. He moved in 1836 to Amesbury, Massachusetts, where he worked for the American Anti-Slavery Society. Whittier founded the antislavery Liberty party in 1840 and ran for Congress in 1842. While Whittier’s critics never considered him to be a great poet, they thought him a nobel and kind man whose verse gave unique expression to ideas they valued. The Civil War inspired the famous poem, “Barbara Frietchie,” but the important change in his work came after the war. From 1865 until his death in 1892, Whittier wrote of religion, nature, and rural life; he became the most popular Fireside poets

James Russell Lowell was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of the Reverend Charles Lowell and Harriet Spence. An ardent abolitionist, Lowell published widely in many anti-slavery newspapers, such as the Pennsylvania Freeman and the Anti-Slavery Standard. He also published a number of literary essays, political pamphlets, and satirical works, such as The Biglow Papers, a series of satirical verses written in opposition to the Mexican War. In 1853, Lowell’s wife and three of their four children fell ill and died. Two years later, he returned to Harvard to replace Longfellow as professor of modern languages and literature. He spent the following year traveling and studying in Europe, then returned to Harvard to teach for the next twenty years. Known for his politics and personal charm, Lowell was appointed to the position of United States Minister to Spain in 1877, then served as United States Minister to England from 1880 to 1885.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. was an American physician, poet, and polymath based in Boston. A member of the Fireside Poets, he was acclaimed by his peers as one of the best writers of the day.  He was also an important medical reformer. In addition to his work as an author and poet, Holmes also served as a physician, professor, lecturer, and inventor, and although he never practiced it, he received formal training in law. He began writing poetry at an early age; one of his most famous works, “Old Ironsides”, was published in 1830 and was influential in the eventual preservation of the USS Constitution. Following training at the prestigious medical schools of Paris, Holmes was granted his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1836. He taught at Dartmouth Medical School before returning to teach at Harvard and, for a time, served as dean there. During his long professorship, he became an advocate for various medical reforms and notably posited the controversial idea that doctors were capable of carrying puerperal fever from patient to patient. Holmes retired from Harvard in 1882 and continued writing poetry, novels and essays until his death in 1894.

Below you will find the link to the poems you will be analyzing. Remember, you need to not only analyze the poem in depth, but be sure to make connections between the content of these poems and the ideals of the Romantic/Transcendental writers we will be reading later.

Click here to access the poems in case you lost your hardcopy from class.

Click here to review the rubric you will need to use for your presentation.

 

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Analyzing Rhetoric – Early Women’s Reform

After analyzing how a speaker’s adopted ‘persona’ impacts their use of rhetoric through an examination of a series of letters by Thomas Jefferson, you will now look at how different speakers with the same persona use a variety of different rhetorical devices based on differing audiences.

During the Expansionist period of American Literary History, we see an up-tick in writings by women, as they took to the factories to work or began to desire the opportunities for advanced education and more equal protection under the law. These were only the very early beginnings of what would later be the reform movement of ‘Women’s Suffrage’ – while women of this period did desire change for their circumstances, they still largely delivered in the idea of ‘Republican Womanhood’ and ‘The Cult of Domesticity’. Please remember this context as you analyze the documents – their ideals are not exactly the same as women of the suffrage movement, progressive era movements or 20th century feminism that you might already be familiar with. To conduct an accurate analysis you need to make sure you understand the historical context for these documents!

 

If you need the background notes from the 1st half of the video we viewed in class, please see it below:

In your groups you have been assigned an excerpt from a piece of journalism, “A real picture of factory life” by an anonymous female factory worker. Conduct a SOAPSTone analysis of the document, and answer the constructed response questions over it.  The powerpoints below may help with your analysis.

Lowell Mill Girls Protest Powerpoint 1

Lowell Mill Girls Protest Powerpoint 2

 

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Expansionist Literature – The Market Revolution and The Era of Good Feelings

As we transition out of the Revolutionary Period it is incredibly important that you understand that literary periods are fluid…that means that there isn’t a line in the sand drawn between Revolutionary Literature and Romanticism right after 1776. The time after America’s Independence and the start of the Transcendental movement is an incredibly important few decades in which our economy, our borders, and our perception of what it means to be ‘American’ rapidly grew and changed. The literature from this time period reflects these changing viewpoints and the conflict that arises when social, political and economic upheaval happen all at once. Without this period of expansionism, we wouldn’t have the Transcendental movement.

Please review the questions and information at the beginning of Unit 3 in your book, and keep these in mind as you watch and take notes from the video below. These issues and conflicts will serve as the platform for most of the literature we read during this time period.

  • How do we build a nation?
  • Who can be called ‘American’?
  • How does Economic growth change ideals?
  • How far should our borders extend?
  • What is America’s responsibility to its citizen? Its inhabitants?

Click here to watch the Crash Course video over The Market Revolution

 IMG_20150928_101301746

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Revolutionary Women: Phyllis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley

 

Throughout our study of the literature of the American Revolution we have been primarily reading the texts of the founding fathers and other men of the period. However, women played an important role in the founding of our country and contributed greatly to its literature and political texts. Two women that made significant contributions to the arts and politics are Phyllis Wheatley and Abigail Adams.

 

Brought from Africa on the slave trade, Phyllis Wheatley was given a formal education by her masters, and went on to write some of the most beautiful poetry of early America. Hidden in her poems were a celebration of her faith and a criticism of the institution of slavery in America.

In class today we began analyzing her poem ‘On Being Brought from Africa to America’. Please watch the video below of this analysis if you need to review!

 

 

 

We will be exploring the following questions about Wheatley’s poem in class – remember, our ‘how’ and ‘why‘ questions are the important ones to consider!

  • What is her overall tone in the poem?
  • How does she establish that tone?
  • What metaphors did she use throughout the poem?
  • How did she use metaphors effectively to give her poem multiple meanings or ‘layers’.

This is the fourth poem we have analyzed and annotated together or in small group – you will have to work with a poem on your own for this unit test. Please make sure you are practicing and becoming comfortable with close reading and analysis!

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

The Declaration of Independence

We are examining our founding document – an amazing piece of text that brought us to where we are today, and inspired other nations to declare those own free and independent states.

The original Declaration of Independence, ink on parchment. It has been damaged by light and improper storage, and the text has almost faded completely over the past 241 years.

A facsimile copy of The Declaration of Independence, struck in the 19th century. Copies, posters and prints of the document are made from this copy, not the original.

 

Click here to view the real Declaration of Independence at the National Archive.

As we read, analyze and discuss this document please remember that we are looking at not only its importance historically but also its use of effective syntax, its appeals to rhetoric, and even the flaws of 18th century bias that it includes. Many of the ideals exposed in our founding document are held dear to us, but know the irony in that these ideals as we see them today were not extended to all people living in the new United States.

Please see the videos below over the history of the document and a performance of the Declaration.

Today we also learned how to take DoodleNotes, using The Declaration as an example. Please click here to access the notes.

As we analyze the text, remember to look for the appeals to rhetoric and be able to explain how the syntax of the document make its more effective. Be sure to read The National Archive’s analysis of The Declaration of Independence to inform your own analysis and understanding of the text:

“The text of the Declaration can be divided into five sections–the introduction, the preamble, the indictment of George III, the denunciation of the British people, and the conclusion. Because space does not permit us to explicate each section in full detail, we shall select features from each that illustrate the stylistic artistry of the Declaration as a whole.3

 

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018

Revolutionary Literature

As we transition from literature of the Puritan period to literature of the American Revolution, it is important for you to understand that history and its accompanying literature transition SLOWLY – the colonist did not simply wake up one day and realize ‘Hey, we’re in a new literary time period! Let’s change our writing style and beliefs overnight!’. We began to see the slow shift from theocratic colonies obsessed with religion to a more secular, democratic society as we read The Crucible and discussed the real life events of the Salem Witch Trails. Below you will find our notes from class outlining what exactly happened to transition the ideas of the Puritan period to the ideas of the Revolutionary period. Additionally, you will also find a complete list of ideas, concepts, beliefs and characteristics of the Revolutionary period that you may refer to throughout this unit.

IMG_20150914_164048

Common Beliefs

  1. Faith in natural goodness – a human is born without taint or sin; the concept of tabula rasa or blank slate
  2. Perfectibility of a human being – it is possible to improve situations of birth, economy, society, and religion
  3. The sovereignty of reason – echoes of Rene Descartes’ cogito ergo sum or “I think, therefore, I am” (as the first certitude in resolving universal doubt)
  4. Universal benevolence – the attitude of helping everyone
  5. Outdated social institutions cause unsociable behavior – religious, social, economic, and political institutions, which have not modernized, force individuals into unacceptable behavior

Functions of the Writers of this Period

  1. A searching inquiry in all aspects of the world around
  2. Interest in the classics as well as in the Bible
  3. Interest in nature – the “absentee landlord” phenomenon
  4. Interest in science and scientific experiments
  5. Optimism – experiments in utopian communities
  6. Sense of a person’s duty to succeed
  7. Constant search of the self – emphasis on individualism in: a. personal religion. b. study of the Bible for personal interpretation

Characteristics of the 18th Century

Dawn of liberalism: freedom from restraint; age of revolutions in America and in France (1789); experimentation in science; economic concept of laissez-faire; the presence of the frontier; the development of rational religion known as deism; scientific curiosity; growth in nationalism; growth in materialism; the age of the gifted amateur; and belief in progressivism

(*note: the end of the above video covers Revolutionary literature)

11th Grade American Literature Spring 2018