1 In this lesson we explore this side of Emerson along with his bracing optimism. A word about our presentation. Because readers can take self-Reliance as an advice manual for living and because Emerson was above all a teacher, we found it engaging to cast him not as Ralph Waldo Emerson, a nineteenth-century philosopher, but. Ralph, a twenty-first-century self-help guru. In the end we ask if you would embrace his approach to life and sign up for his tweets. Teachers Note: For a more detailed discussion of the aboriginal Self, see. 65-67 in Lawrence buells Emerson.
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Like some critics today, he believed that mass society breeds intellectual mediocrity and conformity. He argued that it produces soft, weak men and women, more prone to whine and whimper than to embrace great challenges. Emerson took as his mission the task of lifting people out of the mass and turning them into robust, sturdy individuals who could face life with confidence. While he held out the possibility of such transcendence to all Americans, he knew that not all would respond. He assured those who did that they would achieve greatness and become guides, redeemers, and benefactors whose personal transformations and leadership would rescue democracy. Thus if Self-Reliance is a pep talk in support for tablet nonconformists, it is also a manual on how to live for those who seek to be individuals in a mass society. Describing Self-Reliance as a pep talk and a manual re-enforces hollywood the way most people have read the essay, as a work of affirmation and uplift, and there is much that is affirmative and uplifting. Yet a careful reading also reveals a darker side to Emersons self-reliance. His uncompromising embrace of nonconformity and intellectual integrity can breed a chilly arrogance, a lack of compassion, and a lonely isolation. That is why one critic has called Emersons work deeply unconsoling.
) Emerson opposed the jacksonians over specific policies, chiefly their defense of slavery and their support for the expulsion of Indians from their territories. But he objected to them on broader grounds as well. Many people like emerson, who despite his noncomformist thought still held many of the political views of the old New England elite from which he sprang, feared that the rise of the jacksonian electorate would turn American democracy into mob rule. In fact, at one point in Self-Reliance he proclaims now we are a mob. When you see the word mob here, do not picture a large, threatening crowd. Instead, think of what we today would call mass society, a society whose culture and politics are shaped not by the tastes and opinions of a small, narrow elite but rather by those of a broad, diverse population. Emerson opposed mass-party politics because it was based on nothing more than numbers and majority rule, and he was hostile to mass culture because it was based on manufactured entertainments. Both, he believed, distracted people from the real eksempel questions of spiritual health and social justice.
Indeed, nonconformity is a sign of strength: Whoso would be a man, he writes, must be a nonconformist. In a sense self-Reliance can be seen as a pep talk designed to strengthen our resolve to stand up to societys efforts to make us conform. Nothing, Emerson thunders, is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. This is individualism in teresa the extreme. While self-Reliance deals extensively with theological matters, we cannot overlook its political significance. It appeared in 1841, just four years after President Andrew Jackson left office. In the election of 1828 Jackson forged an alliance among the woodsmen and farmers of the western frontier and the laborers of eastern cities. (see the America in Class lesson The Expansion report of Democracy during the jacksonian Era.
It is the fountain of action and thought, the source of our spontaneous intuitions. This self defines not a particular, individual identity but a universal, human identity. When our insights derive from it, they are valid not only for us but for all humankind. Thus we can be assured that what is true in our private hearts is, as Emerson asserts, true for all men.* But how can we tell if our intuitions come from the aboriginal Self and are, therefore, true? Emerson says we must have the self-trust to believe that they do and follow them as if they. If, indeed, they are true, eventually everyone will accept them, and they will be rendered back to us as the universal sense. Daguerrotype of Ralph Waldo Emerson Until the rest of the world accepts our beliefs, however, we will be out of step; we will be nonconformists. Emerson tells us not to worry. The essence of self-reliance is resistance to conformity.
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He is Americas apostle of individualism, our champion of mind over matter, and he set forth the rights core of his thinking in his essay self-Reliance (1841). While they influence us today, emersons ideas grew out of a specific time and place, which spawned a philosophical movement called Transcendentalism. Self-Reliance asserts a central belief in that philosophy: truth lies in our spontaneous, involuntary intuitions. We do not have the space here to explain Transcendentalism fully, but we can sketch some out its fundamental convictions, a bit of its historical context, and the way self-Reliance relates. By the 1830s many in New England, especially the young, felt that the religion they had inherited from their Puritan ancestors had become cold and impersonal. In their view it lacked emotion and failed to foster that sense of connectedness to the divine which they sought in religion.
To them it seemed that the church had taken its eyes off heaven and fixed them on the material world, which under the probings, measurements, and observations of science seemed less and less to offer assurance of divine presence in the world. Taking direction from ancient Greek philosophy and European thinking, a small group of New England intellectuals embraced the idea that men and women did not need churches to connect with divinity and that nature, far from being without spiritual meaning, was, in fact, a realm. According to these preachers and writers, we could connect with divinity and understand those symbols — that is to say, transcend or rise above the material world — simply by accepting our own intuitions about God, nature, and experience. These insights, they argued, needed no external verification; the mere fact that they flashed across the mind proved they were true. To hold these beliefs required enormous self-confidence, of course, and this is where Emerson and Self-Reliance come into the picture. He contends that there is within each of us an aboriginal Self, a first or ground-floor self beyond which there is no other. In Self-Reliance he defines it in mystical terms as the deep force through which we share the life by which things exist.
The excerpt illustrates critics louis Menands contention, cited in the background note, that Emersons essays, although generally taken as affirmations, are deeply unconsoling. This lesson is divided into two parts, both accessible below. The teachers guide includes a background note, the text analysis with responses to the close reading questions, access to the interactive exercises, and a follow-up assignment. The students version, an interactive worksheet that can be e-mailed, contains all of the above except the responses to the close reading questions. Teachers guide (continues below background note, text analysis and close reading questions with answer key. Interactive exercises Follow-up assignment Student Version (click to open) Interactive pdf background note text analysis and close reading questions Interactive exercises Background Background questions What kind of text are we dealing with?
For what audience was it intended? For what purpose was it written? When was it written? What was going on at the time of its writing that might have influenced its composition? Ralph Waldo Emerson died in 1882, but he is still very much with. When you hear people assert their individualism, perhaps in rejecting help from the government or anyone else, you hear the voice of Emerson. When you hear a self-help guru on tv tell people that if they change their way of thinking, they will change reality, you hear the voice of Emerson.
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The first interactive exercise addresses vocabulary challenges. The second, well-suited for individual or small group work, presents some of his more famous aphorisms as tweets from. Ralph, a nineteenth-century self-help guru, and asks students to interpret and paraphrase them. The third invites students to consider whether they would embrace. Ralphs vision of life. It explores paragraph 7, the most well-developed in the essay and the only one that shows Emerson interacting with other people to any substantial degree. The exercise is front designed to raise questions about the implications of Emersonian self-reliance for ones relations with others, including statement family, friends, and the broader society.
(A new national culture emergedthat combined European forms with local and regional cultural sensibilities.). Skill Type iii: skill 7 (Analyze features of historical evidence such as audience, purpose, point of view). Advanced Placement English Language and Composition. Reading nonfiction, evaluating, using, and citing primary sources. Writing in several forms about a variety of subjects. Teachers Note, self-Reliance is central to understanding Emersons thought, but it can be difficult to teach because personal of its vocabulary and sentence structure. This lesson offers a thorough exploration of the essay. The text analysis focuses on Emersons definition of individualism, his analysis of society, and the way he believes his version of individualism can transform — indeed, save — american society.
lesson. Common Core State Standards, ela-literacy. L.11-12.4 (Determine the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases.). RI.11-12.1 (Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as drawing inferences.). Advanced Placement us history, key concept.1. (Romantic beliefs in human perfectibility fostered the rise of voluntary organizations to promote religious and secular reforms). Key concept.1 iii.
Lesson sponsored by, advisor: Charles eksempel Capper, Professor of History, boston University; National Humanities Center Fellow. Copyright National Humanities Center, 2014, lesson Contents, in his essay self-Reliance, how does Ralph Waldo Emerson define individualism, and how, in his view, can it affect society? In Self-Reliance Emerson defines individualism as a profound and unshakeable trust in ones own intuitions. Embracing this view of individualism, he asserts, can revolutionize society, not through a sweeping mass movement, but through the transformation of one life at a time and through the creation of leaders capable of greatness. Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1878. Text, ralph Waldo Emerson, self-Reliance, 1841. Text Type, essay, literary nonfiction. Text Complexity, grade 11-ccr complexity band.
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