The America we know today is so different in its fundamental views about almost every aspect of life as to be unrecognizable to our countrymen of two centuries ago. On issues as divergent as slavery, women's rights, education, the environment, and many others, we are simply no longer the country we were.
What is the source of not only these changes, but of our distinctly American way of experiencing ourselves-confident in our value as individuals, certain of our ability to discover truths, self-reliant in the face of uncertainty and change? Answers to questions like these and so many more are found in and around Boston and Concord, Massachusetts, which became, little more than five decades after the American Revolution, the epicenter of a profoundly influential movement that would make possible the America we know today. That movement was Transcendentalism-the subject of an extraordinary 24-lecture series by an award-winning teacher, scholar, and journalist.
You'll learn how Transcendentalism-drawing on an array of influences from Europe and the non-Western world-also offered uniquely American perspectives of thought: an emphasis on the divine in nature, on the value of the individual and intuition, and on belief in a spirituality that might "transcend" one's own experienceto provide a guide for daily living. And you'll learn how Transcendentalism's impact was rooted in the intellectual energy of two remarkable individuals: Ralph Waldo Emerson, the most important figure behind Transcendentalism in America, and Henry David Thoreau, his most influential disciple. Along with a diverse group of intellectual activists, literary figures, and social reformers, their ideas would remake America.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
©2006 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2006 The Great Courses
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"Dry subject matter made interesting"
Yes the audio version has to be better. The Professor relayed a lot of material that would be very difficult to read(my opinion).
Walt Whitman. Portrayed very well in this reading.
Prof Nichols is really dedicated to this subject. It is dry material but he kept it interesting. I almost got a feeling Prof Nichols was rendering an eye witness account.
I didn't realize how connected the transcendentalist movement really was. Frederick Douglas to Abe Lincoln, Henry David Thorough to M.L. King, and Gandhi... amazing!
A great walk through the Transcendentalist and their friends.
One thing though: the first American nature write was James Fenimore Cooper, not Thoreau. Pioneers (1823) and other works like the prairie (1827) which is a lot earlier than Walden (1854).
Nobody can know everything, and this is not the main focus. It's still a pretty big blunder. I hope it gets fixed !
"Great social/historical take on transcendentalism"
Social historical importance
He was clear and concise, bringing life to the characters.
This course focused mostly on the social and historical aspects of the transcendental movement. It does so by recounting the life stories and philosophies of a wide cast of characters that participated in this movement. I was hoping for more of a focus on the philosophic and spiritual underpinnings of the movement. These are explained briefly in the first few lectures, but the majority of the course focuses on how the transcendentalists shaped American history, culture, politics, and education.
The transcendentalist had a lasting impact on America but in many ways those men where mistaken when it came to God. Some of their ideas like public education and building on what is already known and discussion and experimentation are things I myself have agreed with. This course made me think and for that I'm grateful.
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