American Transcendentalism: A History

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Macmillan, Nov 13, 2007 - History - 365 pages
5 Reviews
The First Comprehensive History of Transcendentalism
American Transcendentalism is a comprehensive narrative history of America's first group of public intellectuals, the men and women who defined American literature and indelibly marked American reform in the decades before and following the America Civil War. Philip F. Gura masterfully traces their intellectual genealogy to transatlantic religious and philosophical ideas, illustrating how these informed the fierce local theological debates that, so often first in Massachusetts and eventually throughout America, gave rise to practical, personal, and quixotic attempts to improve, even perfect the world. The transcendentalists would painfully bifurcate over what could be attained and how, one half epitomized by Ralph Waldo Emerson and stressing self-reliant individualism, the other by Orestes Brownson, George Ripley, and Theodore Parker, emphasizing commitment to the larger social good.
By the 1850s, the uniquely American problem of slavery dissolved differences as transcendentalists turned ever more exclusively to abolition. Along with their early inheritance from European Romanticism, America's transcendentalists abandoned their interest in general humanitarian reform. By war's end, transcendentalism had become identified exclusively with Emersonian self-reliance, congruent with the national ethos of political liberalism and market capitalism.

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Review: American Transcendentalism: A History

User Review  - Ben - Goodreads

collective biography of transcendentalists, Gura focuses first on the roots of Transcendental philosophy in German idealism, anti-Lockean etc and then on the way that the splits in Transcendentalism ... Read full review

Review: American Transcendentalism: A History

User Review  - Geoffrey Deacon - Goodreads

Good history. Written in a sprightly style. I wish it had gone into more detail of the content of transcendentalist thought, in addition to its primarily historical orientation. Read full review


Searching the Scriptures
Reinvigorating a Faith
Transcendentalism Emergent
Religious Combustion
Centripetal Forces and Centrifugal Motion
Heaven on Earth
Varieties of Transcendentalism
Self and Society
The Inward Turn
Free Religion and the Dream of a Common Humanity
Toward the Genteel Tradition

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About the author (2007)

Philip F. Gura is William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he holds appointments in English, American studies, and religious studies.