Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism

Title Details

Pages: 448

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Paperback

Pub Date: 08/15/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4677-9

List Price: $39.95

Hardcover

Pub Date: 08/15/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4339-6

List Price: $89.95

eBook

Pub Date: 08/15/2014

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4697-7

List Price: $39.95

Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism

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Traditional histories of the American transcendentalist movement begin in Ralph Waldo Emerson's terms: describing a rejection of college books and church pulpits in favor of the individual power of "Man Thinking." This essay collection asks how women who lacked the privileges of both college and clergy rose to thought. For them, reading alone and conversing together were the primary means of growth, necessarily in private and informal spaces both overlapping with those of the men and apart from them. But these were means to achieving literary, aesthetic, and political authority-indeed, to claiming utopian possibility for women as a whole.

Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism is a project of both archaeology and reinterpretation. Many of its seventeen distinguished and rising scholars work from newly recovered archives, and all offer fresh readings of understudied topics and texts. First quickened by the 2010 bicentennial of Margaret Fuller's birth, the project reaches beyond Fuller to her female predecessors, contemporaries, and successors throughout the nineteenth century who contributed to or grew from the transcendentalist movement.

Geographic scope also widens-from the New England base to national and transatlantic spheres. A shared goal is to understand this "genealogy" within a larger history of American women writers; no absolute boundaries divide idealism from sentiment, romantics from realists, or white discourse from black. Primary-text interludes invite readers into the ongoing task of discovering and interpreting transcendentally affiliated women. This collection recognizes the vibrant contributions women made to a major literary movement and will appeal to both scholars and general readers.

An astonishing record of scholarship that examines transcendentalism from the perspective of women writers. The twenty essays in this collection (and the 'interludes' of primary texts interwoven throughout the volume) are proof that women contributed directly and positively to the movement of transcendentalism. No one who reads these outstanding essays and engaging primary materials will doubt that fact.

—Susan Belasco, editor of Stowe in Her Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of Her Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates

Gathering scores of interpretive essays on transcendentalist women and their sympathetic fellow travelers and interspersing revelatory primary materials among this scholarship, Argersinger and Cole deliver a book that delights and instructs at every turn and on many levels. This is a signal achievement and will redirect the study of both transcendentalism and American romanticism generally.

—Philip F. Gura, author of American Transcendentalism: A History

As this exceptional set of essays reveals, [women] were not merely peripheral players, but active contributors to and practitioners of Transcendentalism from its inception.

—Lydia Willsky-Ciollo, American Studies

Winner

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice magazine

Helen R. Deese

Eric Gardner

Laura Dassow Walls

Sarah Wider

Susan M. Stone

Carol Strauss Sotiropoulos

Sterling Delano

Katherine Adams

Noelle Baker

Dorri Beam

Mary De Jong

Monika Elbert

Ivonne Garcia

Daniel Malachuk

Jeffrey A. Steele

Gary Williams

About the Author/Editor

Jana L. Argersinger (Editor)
JANA L. ARGERSINGER is a coeditor of ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance and Poe Studies/Dark Romanticism and serves as president of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals.

Phyllis Cole (Editor)
PHYLLIS COLE is professor of English at Penn State University, Brandywine, and is the author of Mary Moody Emerson and the Origins of Transcendentalism: A Family History, as well as essays on feminist themes in the transcendentalist movement.