Sample Essay on American Literature: A Critical Argument for America that it had not Established its Literary Independence by the Romantic Period


The Romantic period, commonly referred to as “Romanticism”, was characterized by the revolution of literary works, particularly in America. This period mainly influenced literary arts and is considered a trendsetter in the development of modern American literature. Prior to this period, American literature was relatively undefined, immature, and lacked a common ground and voice that could be distinguished in the literary world. This period laid a solid foundation for modern American literature, and is touted as the basis upon which American literature stands.

These literary works spawn from the genres of literature, music, plays, and many other forms of arts. The Romantic period was not only an artistic movement but also an intellectual movement that defined an era. There was a paradigm shift in the intellectual thinking of American people during this period. This paper will give a concise and precise argument that America had not established its literary independence by the Romantic Period.


The Romantic period was born in the sunset of the eighteenth century and went on to flourish immensely through the sunrise of the nineteenth century. The Romantic Period has its origins in the country of Germany; it is considered as a transformative period in the history of the United States of America and it was at a time when the American social, economic, cultural, and political scenes were undergoing a paradigm shift towards the contemporary American society. This period forms the deep and firmly anchored roots in the mass culture experienced in modern USA.

This period was marked by the formation of independently governed nation states that comprise the United States. These nation states were mandated to enact and enforce their own laws, and formed a key role in not only defining the social and cultural norms but also the existing geographical entities. They increased movement of populations both socially and geographically in search of greener pastures. People were moving and settling in cities, consequently leading to rapid urbanization. There was a burgeoning middle class that had a high disposable income, hence a higher purchasing power and demand for high-quality goods and services from the industries.

There was rapid innovation, leading to the emergence of new technological products, ranging from fossil fuels to electricity. This period was marked by rapid national expansion that defined a distinctive American voice. There was a high sense of nationalism and emerging ideals that nurtured the authoring of masterpiece literary works in the period of American Renaissance. The development of an individual’s personality was also a primary theme in the literature; there was emphasis on self-awareness which is mainly achieved by enlightening oneself through education and vocational skills. It was also tinged with undertones of ethics and aesthetic values. Additionally, the literature vividly painted the pictures of vast, rugged terrains – hills and mountains, desert features, and tropical climates.


            The United States of America established its literary independence after the Romantic Period as American literature was able to establish a common ground and a distinctive voice that defined the themes in the literature. The literature played a crucial role in reflecting the actual events that occur in our world or society. Furthermore, the literature has played a key role in guiding the society and initiating changes in the course of history. The major themes that are recurrent in the literature during this period include racial subjugation, education, poverty, contempt, slavery, and democracy.

Works Cited

Cetron, Marvin, and Owen, Davies. American renaissance: our life at the turn of the 21st century. Macmillan, 2003.

Matthiessen, Francis Otto. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. Oxford University Press, 1968.

Reynolds, David S. Beneath the American Renaissance: the subversive imagination in the age of Emerson and Melville. Oxford University Press, 2011.