Transcendentalist Legacies of Resilience

deadline for submissions: 
January 12, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Society
contact email: 

Thoreau Annual Gathering

July 10-14, 2024

Ralph Waldo Emerson Society

 

Transcendentalist Legacies of Resilience  

 “Resilience” is not a word that Emerson used. The usage of the term, which had originally referred to physical elasticity, to describe one’s character and constitution by its ability to recover, did not appear in print until 1857. Nevertheless, Emerson’s work offers numerous examples of how the self, society, and the natural world can right themselves in response to wrongs and losses. For instance, essays such as “Self-Reliance,” “Circles,” “Experience,” “Power,” “Fate,” “Courage,” and “Character” contain lines of argument that can be read as analogous and perhaps even foundational to our contemporary notions of resilience. As he states in “Courage,” if “perfect will, which no terrors can shake, which is attracted by frowns and threats or hostile armies, nay, needs these to awake and fan its reserved energies into a pure flame, and is never quite itself until the hazard is extreme; then it is extreme and fertile, and all its powers play well.” 

This panel seeks papers that explore Emersonian resilience and that consider how the Transcendentalists responded to personal, political, religious, societal, and technological change in their own time as well as how they influenced later thinkers and movements. Topics might include, but are not limited to, political and social movements such as abolitionism, civil rights, environmentalism, and labor reform, and existential and ethical concerns about personal trauma, virtue, emotion, and self-culture.

 

Please send 300 word abstracts plus brief bio to Bill Scalia at bscalia@alumni.lsu.edu by Friday, January 12, 2024.