English | American Literature 1800-1865
L351 | 28039 | Christoph Irmscher

Christoph Irmscher

28039 - 11:15a-12:30p TR (30 students) 3 cr., A&H

“We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own hands, we
will speak our own minds” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).  American
Transcendentalism, associated with the names of Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller, is generally regarded as
the movement that gave American literature its first authentic
voice. But did it? This course offers a fresh look at
transcendentalist  writing:  we will be paying attention not only to
the fringes of the movement (especially the many women who were
active in it, such as the Peabody sisters and Louisa May Alcott) but
also to contemporaries who had a different literary agenda (Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow).  We’ll be especially interested in the ways
in which American writers in the mid-1850s addressed issues such as
education, nationalism, gender, and literary originality--some of
them came up with answers that might still surprise us today.  As
Bronson Alcott, the quirky mastermind behind the movement, would
say, “There are no right prejudices.”

Required texts:
Transcendentalism:  A Reader, ed. Joel Myerson (Oxford University
Longfellow, Evangeline and Other Poems
Henry David Thoreau, Walden (Dover)
Margaret Fuller, Woman in the Nineteenth Century (Norton)
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Selected Tales (Penguin)
Louisa May Alcott, Moods (Rutgers University Press)