RWES panel for TAG 2023

The Ralph Waldo Emerson Society will sponsor a panel at the 82nd Annual Gathering of the Thoreau Society (July12-16, 2023) exploring the themes of Thoreau, politics, and extinction.

“Fates, Fortunes, and Resources in the Postbellum Republic”

In his 1863 lecture “Fortune of the Republic,” and at the peak of his lecture career after
the Civil War, Emerson sounded the poles of hope and despair as he surveyed the state of the
nation. He anticipated “a new era of equal rights” (LL II: 334) yet in his journal he remarked,
“We hoped that in the Peace, after such a war, a great expansion would follow in the mind of the
country: grand views in every direction,—true freedom in politics, in religion, in social science,
in thought. But the energy of the nation seems to have expended itself in the war, and every
interest is found as sectional & timorous as before” (JMN XV: 77-8). This panel invites papers
that explore how Emerson figures the fate of the nation and its resources, broadly defined, in the
wake of the Civil War. How does he reassess, revise, and/or elaborate on his thinking about
nature, technology, economy, and/or power? In what ways does he grapple with
“extinction”—personal, political, philosophical—and/or attempt to defy them? This panel is
especially interested in papers that engage with Emerson’s later work, such as “American
Civilization” (1862), “Fortune of the Republic” (1863), “Resources” (1864), “Progress of
Culture” (1867), “Farming” (1870), and Natural History of Intellect (1870-71), and papers that
reflect on continuities, shifts, and/or changes in Emerson’s thinking as he confronts the fates,
fortunes, and “resources” of the postwar American landscape.

More details about TAG may be found here:

 Send 300-word abstracts by 15 January 2023 to Peter Balaam (