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American Scholar and The Address

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 465
  • Category: Life

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In the first half of the nineteenth century, parallel to the American romanticism, the birth of transcendentalism is recorded, considered by some as the first philosophy of the United States. This was at the same time a movement of the philosophical, political and religious character that was created in Concord, Massachusetts, at the request of a group of intellectuals who, starting from the affirmation of the spirit, opposed the materialist and traditionalist theses imposed by the Unitarian of Boston. They also exalted the role of nature and the relationship between nature and man. The group included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Orestes Brownson, Convers Francis, Henry David Thoreau, and James Freeman Clarke, to mention the most important. They met frequently and published the literary magazine Dial, which promoted the idea of ​​criticism as a legitimate activity in a democratic society, becoming the first independent and original periodical publication published in the country.

It is worth mentioning that this era was characterized by the great interest of the Americans to cut the ties that united them with England and to look for signs of identity that would distinguish them from the rest of the world. While it is true that the new nation had already been freed from European control in political and economic matters, and that they had adopted a more enlightened form of government, in matters of art and literature they had not fulfilled their expectations. It is precisely in this context in which he struggled to acquire an identity of his own, an issue that was highlighted by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who, in addition to being the most important figure of transcendentalism, exercised through his speeches and writings a great influence on literature and the thinking of the United States when motivating its compatriots to highlight their own characteristics. The foregoing can be seen in Emerson’s essay, The American Scholar.

I would say that the phrase that describes The American Scholar as The declaration of intellectual independence of the United States of America is not in any way a cliché since it has been demonstrated through the theory of reception how it motivated its readers, provoking a reaction that was decisive. Also, through the newspaper research I did in the Public Library of Concord, for which I transcribed three articles as the most relevant, we can see that the criticism exalted his work and even his detractors recognized the merit of this man to inculcate to your country the desire to have a culture and an identity of its own. I can only add that the Emersonian work points even beyond the process of construction of identity since it speaks of an appropriation of the way of conceiving the place that the individual has in front of his society inserted in the world.

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