•American cultural life in the 19° century had its center in New England.
•In New England Puritanism was still a major influence.
•The group of intellectuals and writers who developed the New England Renaissance reacted against the Puritan doctrine
•Anyway, Puritan symbology and allegory were widely employed by the most important writers of this period (Melville and Hawthorne).
•The term “Renaissance” is somehow misleading, because it does not indicate a “renaissance” but the beginning of a truly autonomous American literature, with its own themes and style.
Emerson and Thoureau
•Ralph Waldo Emerson developed the philosophy of Trascendentalism.
•Transcendentalism focused on human ability to transcend the mortal world through reflection and intuition in order to discover eternal truths.
•Contact with nature was the best means to reach these truths.
•Thoreau published Walden,or Life in the Woods, where he described how he had lived for two years in a hut in the woods of Massachusetts.
•His aim was to show that an individual could lead a happy life in rural solitude.
•In his essay Civil Disobedience he supported the idea that any individual had the right to oppose peacefully the law of the State, in they were in conflict with his conscience.