As the celebrated author of “Self-Reliance,” a pioneer of American thought, and a proponent of Transcendentalism, Ralph Waldo Emerson remains a central figure in studies of 19th century America and the American Renaissance.
This volume explores Emerson’s vast literary and social impact during his lifetime as well as his legacy beyond “Self-Reliance.” Emerson’s other writings are discussed in relation to famous literary works and in relation to the themes of nationhood, oratory, social reform, spiritual education, and the environment. New essays discuss Emerson’s impact on his contemporaries, his relationship to antislavery reform, his poetry, and his influence on present-day literature and thought.
This edition opens with an About This Volume by Jericho Williams, and an essay "Critique and Celebration: Emerson and Social Reform" also by Jericho Williams. This is followed by an author biography by LuElla D’Amico.
This leads into the Critical Context section of the book which contains the following essays:
- The Paradox of Self-Reliance in an Era of Social Reform by, Joshua Boyd
- The Critical Reception of Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Longstanding American Commitment to Individuality and Freedom by, Amy Leshinsky
- Emerson’s “Hamatreya”: A Critical History by, Robert C. Evans
- Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Influence on Margaret Fuller’s “Woman Thinking,” by, Christopher Allan Black
Following the Critical Context section is the Critical Readings section of this book, which contains the following essays
- Emerson’s Polarity of Loneliness and Friendship by, Susan L. Dunston
- Moral Sentiment and the Salvation of Spirituality in Emerson’s “Divinity School Address” (1838) by, Trevor B. Williams
- Emerson’s Transcendental Antislavery Writings by, Len Gougeon
- Emerson and the Central Virtue of Reform: A Subjunctive Investigation into the Early Influence on Him of William Lloyd Garrison by, Albert von Frank
- “My thunderbolt has eyes to see”: The Civil War, Nationalism, and Manifest Destiny in Emerson and Timrod by, Benjamin Crawford
- The Multiplicity of Merlin: Emerson’s Merlin Poems by, Dalicia K. Raymond
- Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature Poetry by, Charles W. Rowe
- Master-Enchanter: Emerson’s Extraordinary Influence on John Burroughs by, Stephen M. Mercier
- Writing Dawn and Day in the Work of Mary Oliver and Ralph Waldo Emerson by, Jeff Westover
Each essay in Critical Insights: Ralph Waldo Emerson includes a list of Works Cited and detailed endnotes. In the final section, Resources, easy-to-follow lists are provided to help guide the reader through important dates and moments in the author’s life, beginning with a Chronology of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Life. This is followed by a list of Works by Ralph Waldo Emerson and a Bibliography. Finally, this section closes with an About the Editor section, Contributors, and a detailed Index.
The Critical Insights Series distills the best of both classic and current literary criticism of the world’s most studies literature. Edited and written by some of academia’s most distinguished literary scholars, Critical Insights: Ralph Waldo Emerson provides authoritative, in-depth scholarship that students and researchers will rely on for years. This volume is destined to become a valuable purchase for all.
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