American Romanticism Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to introduce American Romanticism to students. Students will watch a video lesson, discuss the key characteristics of American Romanticism, and research a work of literature.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe the main characteristics of American Romanticism
  • describe how a work of literature exhibits American Romantic characteristics


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.


Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.


  • Paper and pens for note taking
  • Various works of literature from the American Romantic period (including poems, short stories and summaries)


  • Begin the lesson with a short reading from the American Romantic genre. You can choose anything, but an excerpt from Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant may serve as a great introduction.
  • For this lesson, it may be helpful if students have a transcript of the lesson to follow along with as they watch the video lesson The Romantic Period in American Literature and Art. The transcript is found on the same page as the video. Distribute the transcript and start the video. Pause it at 1:35.
    • What is American Romanticism? Write a whole-class definition on the board.
  • Now pair students.
  • Partner pairs will now watch each section of the video describing a characteristic of American Romanticism. Pause at the times below for students to discuss the salient points with their partner then with the class. The goal of each discussion is to identify the main characteristics of each section. Students should identify as many as they can with a partner, then pairs can volunteer to share what they came up with. Pairs can then amend their list as necessary. The times to pause after each section are in the table below:

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