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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP U.S. History
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Transcendentalists and the American Renaissance

  • Individualism, a social theory favoring freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control and the habit or principle of being independent & self-reliant, became prominent in the antebellum era.
  • Transcendentalists posited the importance of an ideal world of mystical knowledge & harmony beyond the world of the senses & they called for the critical examination of society & emphasized individuality self-reliance, & nonconformity.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller were three prominent transcendentalists.
  • Thoreau wrote “Resistance to Civil Government,” an 1849 essay that advocated for civil disobedience or passive resistance against unjust laws (like slavery).
  • During the antebellum era, American artists and writers began to create new distinctly American styles and genres that increasingly were respected around the world.

Transcendentalists and the American Renaissance

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  1. Intro
    • Overview
      • Individualism
      • Transcendentalism
      • Transcendentalists
      • Ralph Waldo Emerson
      • Henry David Thoreau
      • The Defense of Nature
      • Gender Roles Redefined
      • Emergence of a Broad Array of Movement
      • Romanticism and Nationalism
      • Literature and the Quest for Liberation
      • BrookFarm: A Utopian Experiment
      • Southern Literature
      • American Landscape Painting
      • Example 1
        • Example 2
          • Intro 0:00
          • Overview 0:06
          • Individualism 0:54
            • Alexis de Tocqueville
            • Individualism
          • Transcendentalism 3:12
            • Intellectual Movement
            • Individuality Self-Reliance and Nonconformity
            • Instincts and Emotion
          • Transcendentalists 4:55
            • Understanding
            • Transcend the Limits of the Intellect
            • Concord, MA
            • Images of Transcendentalists
          • Ralph Waldo Emerson 7:11
            • Leading Spokesman of this Movement
            • The American Scholar
            • Outpouring of First Class novel, Poetry and Essays
            • Original Relation with Nature
            • Ordinary Middle-Class Americans
            • New Industrial Society
          • Henry David Thoreau 12:04
            • Lives of Quiet Desperation
            • Self-Realization
            • Walden and Life in the Woods
            • Resistance to Civil Government
          • The Defense of Nature 16:34
            • The Rapid Economic Development
            • Inspiration and Spirituality
          • Gender Roles Redefined 17:49
            • Woman in the Nineteenth Century
            • Mystical Relationship with God
            • The Questioning of Gender Roles
          • Emergence of a Broad Array of Movement 19:49
            • Romanticism
            • Order and Control
            • Slavery Overshadowed
          • Romanticism and Nationalism 21:49
            • The Need to Improve the American Culture
            • Romanticism for Inspiration
          • Literature and the Quest for Liberation 22:19
            • Washington Irving's James Fenimore Cooper
            • Walt Whitman
            • Democracy, The liberation of the Individual and the Pleasures of the Flesh
            • Herman Melville
            • Strength of Individual Will
            • Edgar Allen Poe
          • BrookFarm: A Utopian Experiment 25:33
            • Nathaniel Hawthorne
            • Brook Farm
            • Form of Socialism
            • All Share in the Leisure
          • Southern Literature 27:40
            • Historical Romances of the Plantation System
            • William Gilmore Simms
            • The Lives of Ordinary People and Poor Whites
            • Mark Twain
          • American Landscape Painting 29:15
            • Hudson River School
            • Nature is the Source of Wisdom
            • Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran
            • Examples of Landscape Painting
          • Example 1 31:45
          • Example 2 34:08