Alone with Nature
What is Transcendentalism?
• Tenets (Beliefs)
Truth is in nature
Everyone can get it
Social knowledge different than individual knowledge
Society can and will improve
Individual has effect on community
• Authors:
– Emerson
– Thoreau
– Fuller
Historical Context
• 1830s-1860s
– Mexican American War
– Civil War
• Centered at Harvard University
• Inspired by German Philosopher
Immanuel Kant
• Originally Transcendentalism used as
a put-down. They like it so it stays as
their title
Henry David Thoreau
• 1817-1862
• Upbringing:
– Parents owned a little store
– They worked as pencil makers
• Education
– Harvard
– Labeled as failure
Henry David Thoreau
• Activist and Intellectual
– “We need to”
– Wants change in individual
– Tree hugger
• Significant works:
– Resistance to Civil Government
– Walden
– Slavery in Massachusetts
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Education
– Mary Moody Emerson (aunt) in charge
– Wanted to go to Harvard
• Anti-Slavery
• Self-Reliance
– Man is disunited with self until one with nature
– Nature is a symbol of your spirit
• Anti-Institutionalism
– Change in individual will result in change of
Margaret Fuller
• Education
– Educated by father who was a lawyer at Cambridge
– Would educate other women through “conversations”
she published
• Journalism
– She writes for “The Dial” a Transcendentalist
– Writes about women’s rights
• “The Great Lawsuit: Men vs. Men and Women vs. Women”
• “Women in the Nineteenth Century”
• Death
– Dies with her family in a shipwreck off of New York
– Just returning from revolution in Italy