Individualism in early american literature

American Renaissance The authors who began to come to prominence in the s and were active until about the end of the Civil War—the humorists, the classic New Englanders, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and others—did their work in a new spirit, and their achievements were of a new sort. In part it was because, in this Romantic period of emphasis upon native scenes and characters in many literatures, they put much of America into their books.

Individualism in early american literature

In broad terms, the period was marked by sudden and unexpected breaks with traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world.

Experimentation and individualism became virtues, where in the past they were often heartily discouraged. Modernism was set in motion, in one sense, through a series of cultural shocks. The first of these great shocks was the Great War, which ravaged Europe from throughknown now as World War One.

The first hints of that particular way of thinking called Modernism stretch back into the nineteenth century. As literary periods go, Modernism displays a relatively strong sense of cohesion and similarity across genres and locales.

Furthermore, writers who adopted the Modern point of view often did so quite deliberately and self-consciously. Indeed, a central preoccupation of Modernism is with the inner self and consciousness.

In contrast to the Romantic world view, the Modernist cares rather little for Nature, Being, or the overarching structures of history. Instead of progress and growth, the Modernist intelligentsia sees decay and a growing alienation of the individual. The machinery of modern society is perceived Individualism in early american literature impersonal, capitalist, and antagonistic to the artistic impulse.

War most certainly had a great deal of influence on such ways of approaching the world. Two World Wars in the span of a generation effectively shell-shocked all of Western civilization.

In its genesis, the Modernist Period in English literature was first and foremost a visceral reaction against the Victorian culture and aesthetic, which had prevailed for most of the nineteenth century.

Indeed, a break with traditions is one of the fundamental constants of the Modernist stance. They could foresee that world events were spiraling into unknown territory. The stability and quietude of Victorian civilization were rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Modernism - Literature Periods & Movements

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was essentially the triggering event of the First World War, a conflict which swept away all preconceived notions about the nature of so-called modern warfare.

The educational reforms of the Victorian Age had led to a rapid increase in literacy rates, and therefore a greater demand for literature or all sorts. A popular press quickly developed to supply that demand.

Individualism in early american literature

The sophisticated literati looked upon this new popular literature with scorn. Writers who refused to bow to the popular tastes found themselves in a state of alienation from the mainstream of society. To some extent, this alienation fed into the stereotype of the aloof artist, producing nothing of commercial value for the market.

The academic world became something of a refuge for disaffected artists, as they could rub elbows with fellow disenfranchised intellectuals. In the later years of the Modernist period, a form of populism returned to the literary mainstream, as regionalism and identity politics became significant influences on the purpose and direction of artistic endeavor.

The nineteenth century, like the several centuries before it, was a time of privilege for wealthy Caucasian males. Women, minorities, and the poor were marginalized to the point of utter silence and inconsequence.

Individualism in Early American Literature - Essay

The twentieth century witnessed the beginnings of a new paradigm between first the sexes, and later between different cultural groups. Class distinction remains arguably the most difficult bridge to cross in terms of forming a truly equitable society. The point is that as the twentieth century moved forward, a greater variety of literary voices won the struggle to be heard.

What had so recently been inconceivable was steadily becoming a reality. African-Americans took part in the Harlem Renaissance, with the likes of Langston Hughes at the forefront of a vibrant new idiom in American poetry. None of this is to suggest that racism and sexism had been completely left behind in the art world.

Perhaps such blemishes can never be fully erased, but the strides that were taken in the twentieth century were remarkable by any measure. In Modernist literature, it was the poets who took fullest advantage of the new spirit of the times, and stretched the possibilities of their craft to lengths not previously imagined.

In general, there was a disdain for most of the literary production of the last century. The French Symbolists were admired for the sophistication of their imagery.Early American literature is full of the spirit of individualism.

This spirit can best be described by Emerson when he says, “Good men must not obey the laws too well”/5(1). In his essay “Self-Reliance,” how does Ralph Waldo Emerson define individualism, and how, in his view, can it affect society? Understanding. Teacher-created and classroom-tested lesson plans using primary sources from the Library of Congress.

Individualism in early american literature

Early American Food. America. Early s’: English colonists brought the gastronomic tastes of the British Isles to their new land. Although the settlers found a land of plenty filled with fish and game, crops cultivated by the Indians, wild mushrooms, cherries, nuts and berries, they almost starved to death during the harsh winter because they were not farmers, but merchants with no.

Literature and Terrorism In an age of terror, how does literature help us transcend our reality, lend perspective to our confusion by pulling us into the past and other cultures, and give expression to our anguish and fear through catharsis?

Individualism in American Literature During the late Nineteenth century and the early Twentieth century the idea of individualism could be seen in the works of several American writers. Individualism can be referred to as the belief in the primary importance of the individual and in the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence.

Individualism - Wikipedia