From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Transcendentalism was a group of new ideas in literature, religion, culture, and philosophy that emerged in New England in the early to middle 19th century. It is sometimes called American Transcendentalism to distinguish it from other uses of the word transcendental.
Transcendentalism began as a protest against the general state of culture and society at the time, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard and the doctrine of the Unitarian church which was taught at Harvard Divinity School. Among Transcendentalists' core beliefs was an ideal spiritual state that 'transcends' the physical and empirical and is only realized through the individual's intuition, rather than through the doctrines of established religions.
Prominent Transcendentalists included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, as well as Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, William Ellery Channing, Frederick Henry Hedge, Theodore Parker, George Putnam, and Sophia Peabody, the wife of Nathaniel Hawthorne. For a time, Peabody and Hawthorne lived at the Brook Farm Transcendentalist utopian commune.
Dark romanticism is a literary subgenre that emerged from the Transcendental philosophical movement popular in nineteenth-century America. Works of literature that were influenced by Transcendental thought but which didn't completely embrace the movement comprise the category. Such works are notably less optimistic than Transcendental texts about mankind, nature, and divinity. American authors considered most representative of dark romanticism are Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.