Emerson: A Visionary Life for our Times

The following is a syllabus of a course we offered in our local Watershed community from August 1997 until August 1998. Read the cited texts and discussion summaries and join us.


Session One:

Why Emerson? An overview of what we personally have in common with Transcendentalism. •Discussion summary

Session Two A:

A Chronology of Emerson's Life. Also Paul will present the beginning of a fictional dialogue between Emerson and a young Civil War veteran.•Discussion summary

Session Two B:

Emerson Life History Extensions. Readers of Emerson biographies present their fictionalized "extensions" of significant events/periods in his life.•Discussion summary

Session Three A:

The Transcendentalists. Lyle will present a fictionalized journal dialogue of the friendship between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Paul will present on "Transcendentalism." •Discussion summary

Session Three B:

The Transcendentalists: a summary. Paul will present on the influences on, and the spirituality of, the Transcendentalists. •Discussion summary


Sessions Four A

Paul - Nature (Portable Emerson, p. 7-50) Part 1 introduces Emerson's understanding of nature as commodity, beauty and language. •Discussion summary

Sessions Four B

Paul - Nature (Portable Emerson, p. 7-50) Part 2: conversations on miracles, language and idealism. •Discussion summary

Sessions Five

Paul - Nature (Portable Emerson, p. 7-50) Part 3: completes Emerson's Nature essay by exploring discipline and idealism.•Discussion summary

Session Six A

Lorna - Spiritual Laws (Portable Emerson, p. 187-) •Discussion summary

Session Six B

Paul - The Transcendentalist (Portable Emerson, p. 92-110)
or "Hippies, Hindus and Transcendentalists" •Discussion summary


Session Seven A

Paul - The Divinity Address (Portable Emerson, p. 72-91) •Discussion summary

Session Seven B

Paul - "Shedding the Husks of Dogma" •Discussion summary

Session Eight A

Marilyn - Oversoul (Portable Emerson, p. 209) •Discussion summary

Session Eight B

Paul - History (Portable Emerson, p. 115 - 137)We are all interconnected and interdependent in History. •Discussion summary

Session Nine A

Eldon - Experience (Portable Emerson, p. 266-290) •Discussion summary

Session Nine B

Paul - Circles (Portable Emerson, p. 228-240) •Discussion summary

Session Ten A

Janice - Compensation (Portable Emerson, p. 165-186) •Discussion summary

Session Ten B

Linda - Fate (Portable Emerson, p. 346-374) •Discussion summary

Conduct of Life

Session Eleven A

Lyle - Character (Selected Works, p. 327-340) •Discussion summary

Session Eleven B

Bev - Love (Emerson's Essays, p. 121-136) •Discussion summary

Session Twelve A

Paul - Illusions (Portable Emerson, p. 375-386) •Discussion summary

Comparing Transcendentalists to Watershed

Discussion summary

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