Earth, Wind, and Fire: Nature and History in America

Romanticism’s Religious Roots

u   Calvinist and Puritan origins

u  Calvin: Nature as the “theater of God’s glory”

u  Nature: where God communicates himself to us

u  Permissible to say “nature is God,” if said with a pious mind

u  Reformed Protestants

u  Congregationalists, Unitarians, Presbyterians, Huguenots

u   Eden

u  Fascination human harmony with God and nature

u  John Milton’s Paradise Lost

u  Detailed description of Paradise as a wild garden

u  Adam and Eve’s “Morning Hymn”

Romanticism & Civilization

u   Nineteenth century material civilization

u  Imperialism, industrialization, urbanization

u  Contradictions with purpose of society?

u   Romantic reaction

u  Urban, educated, usually Northern and Reformed Protestant

u  Turning from blighted, chaotic cities to Nature

Principles of Romanticism

u   Reaction to machine-universe

u  Search for mysticism

u  Nature as wild, organic, source of mystery

u  Effect on imagination & morals

u  Not created by man, unsullied, pure

u  God in nature

u   Romantic poets

u  William Wordsworth: “Tintern Abbey,” 1798

u  William Cullen Bryant: “A Forest Hymn,” 1825

William Wordsworth,“Tintern Abbey,” 1798

          These beauteous forms,

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:

But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them

In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration:—feelings too

Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,

As have no slight or trivial influence

On that best portion of a good man's life,

His little, nameless, unremembered, acts

Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,

To them I may have owed another gift,

Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,

In which the burthen of the mystery,

In which the heavy and the weary weight

Of all this unintelligible world,

Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,

In which the affections gently lead us on,—

Until, the breath of this corporeal frame

And even the motion of our human blood

Almost suspended, we are laid asleep

In body, and become a living soul:

While with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.






u   Ralph Waldo Emerson

u  Nature, 1836

u   Henry David Thoreau

u  Walden, 1854

Romanticism in the Arts

u   English critic John Ruskin: moral effect of art

u   Hudson River School

u  Thomas Cole, 1801-1848

u  Ashur B. Durand, 1796-1886

u  Frederic Church, 1826-1900

u   Celebration of the West

u  Albert Bierstadt, 1830-1902

u  Thomas Moran, 1837-1926

America the Beautiful

u   Sense of wonder at nature so grand

u  Effect of Western paintings

u  Report of naturalists & explorers

u   Not like Europe

u  Wild and as God made it

u   See America first: rise of nature tourism

u  White Mountains in Vermont

u  Adirondacks in New York

u  Yosemite in California, 1864, first park