English 190

Research Seminar: American Transcendentalism


Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Fall 2019 Otter, Samuel
TTh 9:30-11 206 Dwinelle

Book List

Fuller, Margaret: The Essential Margaret Fuller; Hawthorne, Nathaniel: The Blithedale Romance; Myerson, Joel: Transcendentalism: A Reader; Thoreau, Henry David: A Year in Thoreau's Journal; Thoreau, Henry David: Walden

Other Readings and Media

Photocopied reader (available at Copy Central, 2411 Telegraph Ave.)

Description

We will immerse ourselves in the literary, political, philosophical, and aesthetic thought of the influential mid-nineteenth-century movement in the United States known as Transcendentalism. We will read fiction, essays, autobiographies, and poems by a range of writers inside and outside the shifting group, including major figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau; contributions by other Transcendentalist writers such as Bronson Alcott, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Theodore Parker, and Jones Very; and responses (often critical) by Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville. Over the course of the semester, we will trace the development of thought and the debate among these writers about knowledge, intuition, contradiction, spirituality, individualism, economic critique, the natural environment, slavery, women’s rights, and the effort to imagine and enact alternative communities (especially the social experiment at Brook Farm in Massachusetts and Thoreau’s individualistic experiment at Walden Pond). We also will look closely at the contents of the Transcendentalist periodical The Dial (1840-1844). Course requirements include oral presentations and a substantial research paper (20 pages) written in stages across the semester.

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