So I’m really happy to report that on November 11th around 6:15 PM I finished listening to the 24th and final lecture in my Great Courses Emerson, Thoreau and the American Transcendental Movement lecture series purchased through the Teaching Company. I’ve obviously learned a lot about Emerson, Thoreau and Bronson Alcott. But in addition, I listened to lectures on Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Utopian communities such as the Shakers and the Oneidans, as well as less well-known participants in the movement such as Theodore Parker, Margaret Fuller and Moncure Conway. I have been exposed to a ton of information, and the bottom line for me is that this was time very well-spent. Now that I’ve run through the course once I’m looking forward to listening to it again in the near future at a more relaxed pace in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of the material and better basic retention of the information.
The American Transcendental Movement seems to dovetail nicely with what the course professor refers to as the American Renaissance in art, music, and literature. Major figures such as Melville, Poe and Hawthorne were active during this period, roughly defined as 1830 through 1880. I’m hoping that as my understanding of the Am. Tran. Period deepens I will gain greater insight into the lives of these other artists as well. Time will tell.