This 5-session course introduces you to the most consequential nature philosophy developed in the United States. Through a process of reading, discussion and writing, you’ll be exposed to key texts from the ancient world, European modernism, American Transcendentalists, and postmodern Gaia theory. You’ll learn where Transcendentalism came from, and how it continues to inform our way of perceiving and understanding nature. More importantly, you’ll be able to “play” with these ideas, developing and expressing your own philosophy of nature.
1) Springsources: Hindu, Judaic, Greek and Roman nature mysticism
2) The Transcendental Experience: Emerson’s Nature
3) Living Transcendentally: Thoreau’s Walking
4) Collective Transcendentalism: Whitman’s Song of Myself
5) Transcendentalism in the age of Gaia: Margolis’s What is Life?
Fall session classes are scheduled for Weds. 7-9pm; 11/18, 11/25, 12/2, 12/9, 12/16.
The texts for our first class will be accessed from the web. Suggested editions for the other texts are found by clicking on the book title.
You’ll also receive links to, or hand-outs of, secondary sources so you are introduced to the historical contexts from which these ideas and works emerged. The curriculum is structured recursively so that each class builds upon contexts established on the one before it, so that when we get to What Is Life?, you have the conceptual tools you need to see how Transcendentalism continues to guide our understanding of the human place in the designs of nature. Finally, you’ll be provided with questions and prompts online that will help guide you through the readings, so when we meet you have already started interpreting Transcendental ideas. You are not required, but are strongly encouraged, to keep a journal of your reflections and questions which, if you desire, your instructor will review and comment upon.
Learn where Transcendentalism came from, and how it informs our way of perceiving nature. In five easy 2-hour classes!