Ashleigh Little

What is Transcendentalism?

  • The Transcendentalism movement was a "an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century" (Goodman).
  • It was a philosophy and a way of thinking that held it's roots in religion but was not itself a religion.
  • As a general idea most transcendentalist believed that "each individual could transcend, or move beyond, the physical world of the senses into deeper spiritual experience through free will and intuition" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • Many different religions made up this group but "believers understood God and themselves by looking into their own souls and by feeling their own connection to nature" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Famous Transcendentalist

Connection to Literature

  • Transcendentalist writers were important to this time because they were the seers. It was important that the writer “summon the world to life” and “see the world clearly” (Redd).
  • Transcendentalist helped people see the world around them by helping them “see what needs to be seen” which includes social injustices (Redd).
  • Transcendentalist ideal were the “every individual has to be respected because every individual has a universal soul” therefore they were the most “forceful critics of slavery and gender inequality” (Redd).
  • Transcendentalist “wanted their work to have an altering effect on individuals and on society as a whole” which can only happen when change is put into effect (Redd).
  • Something that spurred this effect was to imagine something new. Transcendentalism “placed significant emphasis on imagination” (Redd).

    · When the writer imagines he lets his mind free and “he transcends himself”. This experience lets “allows him to move beyond his personal experience, his mind and body…” which can then lead to a change (Redd).

Works Cited


  • Goodman, Russell. "Transcendentalism." Stanford University. Stanford University, 06 Feb. 2003. Web. 14 Dec. 2014.

  • "Ralph Waldo Emerson." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
  • Redd, Stacy. "Transcendentalism: Impact on American Literature." Education Portal. Education Portal, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.