ENGL 3525 - F Transcendentalism (advanced English course)
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Course Description Between the 1830s and 1860s this country's most talented writers forged a distinctively American literature and philosophical outlook on the world known as Transcendentalism. What is our best self? What is our relationship to nature? to the universe? to each other? These are just a few of the key questions Transcendentalists addressed in stories, poems, and essays. A time of rebirth, this literary movement has been called "the American Renaissance" (F.O. Matthiessen, 1968). It features some of the most memorable literature of the last two centuries. The course will begin with our discussion of influential essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, such as "Self-Reliance" about one's relationship with nature and G-d. We'll read excerpts of Henry David Thoreau's famous meditation on the natural world, Walden. We'll examine the journalism, as well as the feminist and abolitionist writings of women such as Margaret Fuller. We'll study Walt Whitman, both his poetry and prose, and examine how this singularly original American transformed Transcendentalism into something bolder, shaggier, and more in touch with ordinary Americans. We'll also take a look at the darker, almost gothic side of Transcendentalism as embodied by the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne and the gem-like precision of the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Finally, we’ll consider how the Transcendentalists are still relevant for us today, as we ask ourselves what Emerson called “the practical question of the conduct of life: How shall I live?”
Miller, Matthew Ward. (2021, Spring), Syllabus, ENGL 3525 - F Transcendentalism, Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University.
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