An Introduction to 19 th Century American Transcendentalism. English 358, Fall 2010 Welcome to class!. What is Transcendentalism? .
An Introduction to 19th Century American Transcendentalism
English 358, Fall 2010
Welcome to class!
How did this “movement” arise? What was it reacting against? What did one have to do/say/think to call himself or herself a “Transcendentalist”? Why might people be suspicious of this label?
Emerson (1803 – 1882) Fuller (1810-1850) Thoreau (1817-1862)
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Divinity School Address”
delivered before the senior class in Harvard Divinity College,
on a Sunday evening in Cambridge, MA
July 15, 1838
The main tendencies in Transcendentalist writing are dominant motifs in American literary history (Buell, Literary Transcendentalism, 20).
Buell, Literary Transcendentalism (22)
“What shall forbid us to universalize the operations of God & to believe the operation of the Holy Spirit is the same in kind in the prophet Isaiah as in the poet Milton?…
To create is the proof of a Divine presence. Whoever creates is God, and whatever talents are, if man create not, the pure efflux of Deity is not his.”
Emerson, from Representative Men (1850)