Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement

Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (176 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

What listeners say about Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement

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    5 out of 5 stars

Dry subject matter made interesting

Would you consider the audio edition of Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement to be better than the print version?

Yes the audio version has to be better. The Professor relayed a lot of material that would be very difficult to read(my opinion).

Who was your favorite character and why?

Walt Whitman. Portrayed very well in this reading.

Have you listened to any of Professor Ashton Nichols’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

N/A

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Impossible!!

Any additional comments?

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.

9 people found this helpful

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One of my favorite Great Courses

This one really snuck up on me! I love the topic but the professor was particularly good. For some reason, I also found this lecture series really great to listen to before bed so I would recommend it for that purpose. If you are interested in this topic, it is a must listen.

4 people found this helpful

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Great social/historical take on transcendentalism

If you could sum up Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement in three words, what would they be?

Social historical importance

What about Professor Ashton Nichols’s performance did you like?

He was clear and concise, bringing life to the characters.

Any additional comments?

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.

4 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable listen!

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 !

2 people found this helpful

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So good!

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!

2 people found this helpful

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Transformative

Amazing lectures on the profound thinkers of the Transcendentalist movement. I'm so enriched by the experience of listening to them, and would highly recommend to anyone with an appreciation of nature, humanism, and the ideas that have shaped the American spirit.

1 person found this helpful

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I learned so much

Really good teacher and teaching. Ideals that everyone should know. I can apply this in my everyday life!

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Could benefit from better intonation and recording

I think the content and everything was very informative and expertly researched, but I don't know why I initially bought this audiobook in the first place. I really enjoy the concepts of transcendentalism and I think I was eager to explore it further since my first exposure as a senior in high school, but I feel like this was overwhelming in its depth and complexity. There are so many names thrown around in this book like I'm expected to know or care about them, and I'm sure their inclusion is important in some way, but in that way I was unable to follow which threads were important. Granted, I haven't had time to look over the accompanying PDF but I'm sure my questions would be answered if I picked it up. I felt like the vocabulary was at time difficult and I love new words, but it's so fast and there's so much information, that I got lost while trying to find the definitions. My head was constantly in a state of whirling dervish momentum that I can't say I'm not glad to have finished these lectures. Had I listened ten years ago, fresh out of high school, I'm sure this would've been right up my alley, but my current situation left me scratching my head as to why I was still continuing with the lectures. To get my money's worth, I guess. Now, for anyone who's interested in this topic and doesn't mind the almost graduate-level of information, you'll love it. I just thought it was alright. Definitely not recommended for the layman. The narrator speaks with a weird eagerness, like he's trying to keep a class of 300's attention, but it's just me. I wish he had an intonation and comfort with using a microphone to treat these lectures like a private conversation and add some depth to his voice to flow with the important points and when to change as info becomes less important, but it's a long monotonous angst of trying to convey the information. Maybe I'm just spoiled after listening to Dan Carlin recently and that's an unfair comparison and it's hard to describe my gripes, but I just wish it were more personal and with better production values in the recording process.

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Excellent overview of the American Transcendentalists.

Excellent overview of the American Transcendentalists. Highly recommended for all interested in Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, Fuller, etc.

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Wonderful, informative and fantastic delivery

I love Thoreau and Emerson and this course filled in many of the gaps and makes my reading that much more fulfilling. I also loved hearing more about their contemporaries/companions. The delvery was outstanding. I was sad to have it end. It was so good I will listen to the whole thing again next year.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-17-19

Not a philisophical book at all

It does not say a lot on transcendentalist ideas for you who are interestet in philosophy aspect of it.

1 person found this helpful