A Growing Nation 1820-1865
•Before 1800 American writers were not widely
•This began to change as American writers began
to define the American voice.
•As America grew as a nation, people called for a
•The primary theme of American writing was the
quest of the individual to define himself/herself.
•The characteristic journey of the 19th century is
the journey away from the town or city to the
• Romanticism was an artistic movement that dominated
Europe and America in the 19th century.
• Romanticism valued imagination and intuition over
reason and fact. Focus on superstition, the past, the
mysteries of nature.
• In ROMANTIC literature, the city was associated with
moral ambiguity, corruption, and death.
• The countryside (and nature) became associated with
independence, moral certainty, and health.
• The idea of the American frontier took on great
significance in American literature as it set it apart from
Washington Irving 1783-1859
America’s first truly popular professional
He was one of the first American Romantics.
He is considered one of the “inventors” of
the modern short story.
Born in New York City
Named after George Washington (met him in
a shop in NYC) when he was a child.
Showed a genius for creating comic, fictional
1809--Wrote A History of New York from the Beginning of
the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty.
◦ This work was a hoax narrated by an unreliable
narrator named Diederich Knickerbocker.
The work’s success established him as a satirist.
• At 21 visited Europe—wrote accounts re: his travels.
Loved the “Old World.”
• While in Europe (1815-1832) he read German
• Wrote stories based on German folk tales.
• Wrote “The Devil and Tom Walker,” based on a
German folk tale.
• “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
were both based on German folktales but were distinctly
American--set in rural New York—Hudson Valley
• “Rip” and “Legend” were published in The Sketch Book of
Geoffrey Crayon (Crayon was another comic voice.)
• The Sketch Book brought him international success.
• Irving borrowed from Europe but established a new voice for
the new nation.
• Irving spent the final years of his life at “Sunnyside,” his
farmhouse in Tarrytown, NY.
• As schoolboys, Hawthorne and Longfellow were inspired by
the success of The Sketch Book.
“The Devil and Tom Walker”
The story is based on the legend of
Faust or Faustus, a scholar who
sells his soul to the Devil. The
legend is based on an actual
magician who lived in the area of
northern Germany in the fifteenth
Faustian characters/themes appear
in many works of literature. Can
you think of one?
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
Set in Tarrytown, NY.
A Yankee school teacher meets
“the Headless Horseman.”
“Rip Van Winkle”
-Set in a rural town in New York.
-Rip escapes his abusive wife, and on his journey into
the countryside, he falls asleep for 20 years.
-He awakens after the Revolutionary War, a “free”
man in more ways than one.
-His awakening parallels America’s awakening as a new
-He is a comic “counterhero,”an unambitious
do-nothing who makes success out of failure.
William Cullen Bryant 1794-1878
Born in western Mass.
Wrote “Thanatopsis” as a teenager.
Published Poems in 1821 (27 years old)
Made him famous
Moved to NYC—became magazine and
Helped form Republican Party; supported
Campaigned to create Central Park
Translated The Iliad and The Odyssey in his
Mourned as a great poet and editor.
First American poet to receive worldwide
Led the Romantic Movement in America.
Discerned moral lessons and a divine
presence in the American landscape.
Used his role as journalist to advocate for
human rights and personal freedoms–
advocated for women’s rights; fierce foe
James Fenimore Cooper 1789-1851
America’s first great novelist (wrote 32 novels plus many
He developed the American adventure tale as a
new literary mode.
Frontier was a uniquely American setting.
Natty Bumppo (Hawkeye) from the
Leatherstocking series is one the most
memorable and imitated heroes in American
Heroic elements: Brave, fautless hero, loyal Indian
companion, encounters physical danger as a test
of his prowess, hair-breadth rescues
Created a uniquely American form of
Created the American Romantic hero upon
which future heroes were based.
Depicted close friendship between a white
man and an Indian.
Lamented the suffering of the Mohicans, a
tribe described as highly moral and ethical.
While Mark Twain criticized Cooper’s writing,
the Leatherstocking novels are thought to
have had the most influence on Huckleberry
The Leatherstocking Series
Consists of 5 novels. They tell story of frontiersman Natty Bumppo
(Hawkeye) and his Indian friend Chingachgook.
Common plot elements: guiding women through wilderness, threat of Indian
attack, Chingachgook and Natty’s prowess, treacherous characters, etc.
The Pioneers (1823)—written first—fourth chronologically in terms of plot—takes place
1793—NY frontier—Natty middle-aged, Chingachgook dies
The Last of the Mohicans (1826) (Takes place 1757—second novel in plot--during French
Indian War in NY—Natty and his friends rescue two sisters and escort them to their lt. colonel
father at Fort William Henry.
The Prairie (1827) (Takes place 1804 after Louisiana Purchase—setting—last novel in plot—Natty= The
Tapper,” an old man, moves farther west to avoid the sound of trees begin cut down; helps pioneer family, dies.)
The Pathfinder (1840) (Takes place 1750s—NY, Canada, third novel in series)
The Deerslayer (1841) (Takes place 1740-1745—NY—introduces young Natty. He is contrasted against
white mean who want to take scalps. He considers this act unnatural for white men.)
Last of the Mohicans
Hawkeye is not a love FILM
•Hawkeye and Cora fall in
Hawkeye is a friend and
contemporary to love.
Chingachgook, not his •Hawkeye is portrayed as
Chingachgook’s white son.
Uncas is protective of
Cora. •Uncas has feelings for Alice.
Duncan loves Alice. •Duncan proposed to Cora.
Hawkeye and Duncan She refuses him.
respect each other. •Hawkeye and Duncan are
Magua tries to make Cora enemies.
marry him to exact
revenge on Munro. •Alice dies, Cora lives, Col.
Cora is of mixed race. Munro, and Duncan die.
Cora dies, Col. Munro •Uncas dies.
and Duncan live.
•Chingachgook kills Magua.
Hawkeye kills Magua.