Locating representation: Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Brown, and the manifestation of biography

Thumbnail Image
Date
2005-01-01
Authors
Wolfe, Gregory
Major Professor
Advisor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
Altmetrics
Authors
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
English

The Department of English seeks to provide all university students with the skills of effective communication and critical thinking, as well as imparting knowledge of literature, creative writing, linguistics, speech and technical communication to students within and outside of the department.

History
The Department of English and Speech was formed in 1939 from the merger of the Department of English and the Department of Public Speaking. In 1971 its name changed to the Department of English.

Dates of Existence
1939-present

Historical Names

  • Department of English and Speech (1939-1971)

Related Units

Journal Issue
Is Version Of
Versions
Series
Department
Abstract

This work explores the synthesis of Ralph Waldo Emerson's 1838 address "History" with the life of John Brown. In his address Emerson declares that "there is no history; only biography," and from this statement the foundation for Representative Men is put in place. Although nearly 21 years separate Emerson's lecture from Brown's work in "bloody Kansas" and Harpers Ferry, Brown's warfare for abolition gave Emerson's philosophy of "biography" an identity. In keeping with the concept of "biography," Emerson's overarching principle of "Self-Reliance" often deployed philosophical forms such as "Man Thinking" and "The Hero," but by 1850, Emerson's philosophy was informed by the politics of the day, and "Self-Reliance" became identified with the abolition movement. In an attempt to find an American biography, Emerson aligned himself with one of the country's most radical abolitionists. In Chapter One the author offers an explication of "History," including Emerson's experience in Europe in 1832, and the subsequent anticipation for an American genius. Chapter Two will focus on Emerson choosing Brown as a "representative," thus declaring Brown to be the "true history of the American Republic." In treating Emerson and Brown the writer engages not only major works of the Emerson canon, but lesser known essays and lectures, including "Remarks at a Meeting for the Relief of John Brown's Family" (1859), and "John Brown: Speech at Salem" (1860).

Comments
Description
Keywords
Citation
Source
Copyright
Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2005