The phrase ‘American Renaissance,’ as applied to literature, was popularly established by the Harvard scholar F. O. Matthiessen in his 1941 book American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. Matthiessen calls the years between 1850 and 1855 an “extraordinarily concentrated moment of literary expression.” (p. vii) This text centers its discussion around five nineteenth century authors—none of which include women. They are: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman. Matthiessen reveals their origins of the nature and function of literature and the extent to which these were realized in their writings.
Matthiessen overlooked and completely disregarded the women writers of the nineteenth century. But contrary to his belief, women writers during this time made tangible contributions to literature and were quite important to the time period. Just because Matthiessen did not appreciate women writers of the nineteenth century does not mean that others have to follow in his footsteps; which is why this is an appreciation essay to two nineteenth century female writers: Catherine Sedgwick and Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Catharine Maria Sedgwick was born December 28, 1789 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In childhood, Sedgwick was cared for by a former slave and as a young woman, Sedgwick attended a private school where girls are prepared for entry into fashionable society in Boston to complete her education. Later on in her life, she took charge of a school in Lenox and then converted from Calvinism to Unitarianism, which led her to write a leaflet criticizing religious intolerance. This experience inspired her to write her first novel: A New-England Tale; which is about the connection b...
... middle of paper ...
...r Stowe's Life." Harriet Beecher Stowe's Life. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
"Harriet Beecher Stow." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York, NY: W,W. Norton &, 2013. 779-818. Print.
"Impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Slavery, and the Civil War." The National and International Impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
Matthiessen, F. O. American Renaissance; Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. London: Oxford UP, 1941. Print.
Sedgwick, Catharine Maria. A New England Tale and Miscellanies. New York: Putnam, 1852. Print.
"Share Book Recommendations With Your Friends, Join Book Clubs, Answer Trivia." Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2013.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, and Charles Edward Stowe. Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Detroit: Gale Research, 1967. Print.
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