American Romanticism Literature Resources

Welcome to American Romanticism Online! We have a variety of resources available for students and teachers. Feel free to browse our collection of authors, or visit “Romanticism Overview” to take a look at the period with some examples of artwork and music.This lesson will give you a better understanding of some of the key concepts underpinning the works of our Romantic authors. Feel free to begin your tour here, or use this page as a handy reference for other parts of your research. All of our educational resources are centered around the following essential questions about American Romanticism:

Essential Questions

  • How did the social, political and environmental realities of the late-1700’s and early-1800’s contribute to the development of American Romanticism?
  • How have American Romantic authors contributed to the development of contemporary philosophies and popular culture?
  • How do the individual texts of American Romantic authors work against each other to complicate a singular definition of American Romanticism?

Free Texts from Romantic Authors

Click on the pictures of the authors below to read some of their most famous and influential works. All of the texts are annotated with helpful definitions and identifications of key literary

Edgar Allan Poe

Born: January 19, 1809
Boston, MA

Died: October 7, 1849
Baltimore, MD

Full Texts by Edgar Allan Poe

Emily Dickinson

Born: December 10, 1830
Amherst, MA

Died: May 15, 1886
Amherst, MA

Full Texts by Emily Dickinson

Henry David Thoreau

Born: July 12, 1817
Concord, MA

Died: May 6, 1862
Concord, MA

Full Texts by Henry David Thoreau

Walt Whitman

Born: May 31, 1819
Long Island, NY

Died: March 26, 1892

Camden, NJ

Full Texts by Walt Whitman

Standards Based Lesson Plans

For different authors and selected texts, American Romanticism Online has created and collected lesson plans to enrich classrooms for students and teachers. Our lesson plans provide teachers with solid and flexible instructional strategies to increase the comprehension of American Romantic literature and art.

Edgar Allan Poe Lesson Plans

Emily Dickinson Lesson Plans

Henry David Thoreau Lesson Plans

Walt Whitman Lesson Plans

Interactive Quizzes and Assessments

American Romanticism Online works hard to create interactive assessment tools for students and teachers. Have your students take our quizzes online, or download them and use them in class. We have created assessments with differing difficulty levels, so encourage your students to reach Level 3 before moving on.

  • Edgar Allan Poe Quizzes: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3
  • Emily Dickinson Quizzes: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3
  • Henry David Thoreau Quizzes: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3
  • Walt Whitman Quizzes: Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3


Recent Posts

Art Examination: The Course of Empire, 1 of 5, by Thomas Cole 1836

Thomas Cole- The course of empire-the savage state 1836

Thomas Cole- The Course of Empire-The Savage State 1836


This post is the first in a series examining the painting of Romantic artist Thomas Cole. We will examine Cole’s paintings as both cultural artifacts and artistic works. To begin the series, this first post will address the first painting in Cole’s The Course of Empire collection, The Savage State.

The Savage State depicts an idyllic life style of natural origin. When you look at the landscape, the human figures on the rock in the foreground are almost indistinguishable from their natural environment. Likewise, the figures also appear partially clothed. Throughout literature and art, a human’s clothes have represented the one fact that makes man separate from animals (Ex. Gulliver’s Travels) . By depicting the human figures on such a small scale, Cole is able to highlight the low environmental impact of early civilizations.

The clouds in the picture that appear to be clearing are perhaps an ironic play on the notion that the New World was ever really discovered. While the light from the left side of the painting appears to reveal the indigenous population, Cole’s The Course of Empire series quickly demonstrates the corruptive powers of civilization in its later installments. However, the paintings composition date of 1836 alignes with an era of heightened action  against Native American tribes in the U.S., including the Indian Removal Act (1830) and the Treaty of Washington (1836).

What Do You Think?

How does Thomas Cole’s The Savage State represent the Romantic ideal or the cultural realities of the United States during the 1830’s?

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