Emerson Society

Annual Bibliography 2019

An Emerson Bibliography, 2019

Todd H. Richardson, University of Texas Permian Basin

Readers should also consult the Thoreau bibliography published quarterly in the Thoreau Society Bulletin and the chapters “Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, and Transcendentalism” and “International Scholarship” in the annual American Literary Scholarship (Duke University Press).

Alfandary, Isabelle.  “Unfounding an American Tradition: or the Performative Invention of Self in Ralph Waldo Emerson.”  Textual Practice, vol. 33, pp. 1739-1752.  [Argues that the “American philosophy invented by Emerson…stems from the invention of a new enunciative and subjective position that is contemporary to and cosubstantial with him.”]

Alpert, Avram.  Global Origins of the Modern Self, from Montaigne to Suzuki.  SUNY.  [Emerson helped conceptualize such values as the “refusal of imposition” and “alternation over synthesis” that can still be useful for a present-day articulation of human rights.]

Askin, Ridvan.  “Emerson’s Speculative Pragmatism.”  New Directions in Philosophy and Literature, edited by David Rudrum et al., Edinburgh, pp. 234-252.  [For Emerson, it is only through art, as the “primary means of metaphysical inquiry,” that we are able to approximate fundamental reality and therefore come to know ethical conduct.]

Balthrop-Lewis, Alda.  “Active and Contemplative Lives in a Changing Climate: The Emersonian Roots of Thoreau’s Political Asceticism.”  Journal of the American Academy of Religion, vol. 87, pp. 311-32.  [Maintains that Thoreau’s ascetic life at Walden pushes beyond that envisioned by Emerson in “Literary Ethics,” and ultimately, that it provides a blueprint for mitigating the climate crisis.]

Bannon, Brad.  Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the Supernatural Will in American Literature.  Routledge. [Identifies Coleridge’s and Edwards’s thought operating in tandem throughout Emerson’s career.]

Beebe, Brad.  “‘Light is the First of Painters’: Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Luminism of John Frederick Kensett.”  Religion and the Arts, vol. 23, pp. 467-488.  [Explores thematic affinities between the Kensett’s 1869 painting Lake George and Emerson’s Nature and “Art.”]

Brunet, François.  The Birth of the Idea of Photography.  Newly translated by Shane B. Lillis.  MIT. [Includes a short chapter highlighting Emerson’s endorsement of daguerreotype technology.] 

Burney, Fatima.  “Locating the World in Metaphysical Poetry: The Bardification of Hafiz.”  Journal of World Literature, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 149-168.  [Critiques Emerson’s “Persian Poetry” for imposing western bardic conceptions as well as geographic limitations on Hafiz’s poetry.]

Clark, Prentiss.  “What ‘No Chart Can Tell Us’: Ordinary Intimacies in Emerson, DuBois, and Baldwin.”  James Baldwin Review, vol. 5, pp. 23-47.  [Explores the three writers’ commitment to the “ordinary intimacies of everyday life” as the location for true social change.]

Colapietro, Vincent.  “Emersonian Moods, Peircian Sentiments, and Ellingtonian Tones.”  Journal of Speculative Philosophy, vol. 33, pp. 178-199.  [Sees a common effort to generate individual and national freedom in Emerson’s epistemology of moods, Charles Sanders’s Peirce’s sentiments, and the “affective dimensions” in Duke Ellington’s music.]

Corrigan, John Michael.  “Emerson’s Sad Clown: American Transcendentalism and the Dilemma of the Humorist.”  Humour in the Arts: New Perspectives, edited by Vivienne Westbrook and Shun-liang Chao, Routledge, pp. 146-166.  [Traces Emerson’s philosophy of humor from “The Comic” to his mature views in “Society and Solitude.”]

Cramer, Jeffrey S.  Solid Seasons: The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Counterpoint.  [Part biography, part anthology, the book strives to deliver a portrait of a friendship scholars have long known to be nuanced, rich, troubled, and contradictory.]

Cunning, Andrew.  “‘A Table, A Cup, A Meowing Cat’: Marie Howe’s Theopoetics of the Ordinary.”  Literature and Theology, vol. 33, pp. 307-320.  [Contrasts Howe’s Catholic poetics with Emerson’s more “Protestant approach to poetics.”] 

Davis, Theo.  “Emerson Attuning: Issues in Attachment and Intersubjectivity” ALH, vol. 31, pp. 369-394.  [Argues that as a child, Emerson did not experience the consistent nurturing necessary for healthy adult intersubjectivity, and his struggle to establish relationships is evident throughout his major works.]

de Stefano, Jason.  “The Birth of Creativity: Emerson’s Creative Impulse.”  MLQ, vol. 80, no. 2, pp. 167-193.  [Argues that Emerson gestures toward a theory of creativity in which the impulse is not the mysterious expression of independent genius but rather of a piece with evolution.]  

Donatelli, Piergiorgio.  “Moral Perfectionism and Virtue.”  Critical Inquiry, vol. 45, pp. 332- 350.  [Identifies differences between Aristotelian virtue ethics and Stanley Cavell’s Emersonian perfectionism.]

Dunston, Susan Lee.  “A Source for Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ‘Terminus’ in William Henry Furness’s ‘To Columbus Dying.’”  RALS, vol. 40, pp. 30-50.  [Dates the origins of “Terminus” to 1844 and explores such compelling themes as personal loss, the strength of lifelong friendship, the enduring urge to new creation, and the restorative power of poetry.]

Fabbriches, Rossella.  “Spinoza, Emerson, and Peirce: Re-Thinking the Genealogy of Pragmatism: 2019 Presidential Address.”  Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, vol. 55, pp. 103-18.  [Suggests Emerson served as a conduit of Baruch Spinoza’s ideas to Peirce.]

Fessenden, Tracy.  “Haunted America: Reading the Spiritual Turn.”  Above the American Renaissance: David S. Reynolds and the Spiritual Imagination in American Literary Studies, edited by Harold K. Bush and Brian Yothers, Massachusetts (2018), pp. 21-36.  [Posits that Emerson’s turn away from institutional religion “set a template for American spiritual seeking that endures to this day.”]

Friedl, Herwig.  Thinking in Search of a Language: Essays on American Intellect and Intuition Bloomsbury Academic.  [The culmination of many decades of work on Emerson’s anti- foundationalist philosophy.]  

Gardes, Yves.  “The Impersonal Personified: Emerson’s Poet.”  Textual Practice, vol. 33, pp. 1753-63.  [Maintains that, in “The Discontented Poet,” Emerson confesses the “shortcomings of his endeavors to personify the ideal poet” because of the discrepancy between the “idealist moment of disembodied contemplation and the materialist struggle of versification.”]

Graber, Samuel.  Twice-Divided Nation: National Memory, Transatlantic News, and American Literature in the Civil War Era.  Virginia.  [Avers in one chapter that the exploding power of print media enabled Emerson to envision an abolitionist movement infused with spiritual immediacy and therefore offer his unreserved commitment.]  

Goodman, Daniel Ross.  “Three Ethical Mystics: The Poetics of Ethics in the Spiritual Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Abraham Isaac Kook.”  Journal of Jewish Ethics, vol. 5, pp. 111-40.  [Champions thinkers who believe that spirituality must “necessarily lead to ethical behavior…if it is to have any merit.”]

Goodson, Jacob L. and Brad Elliott Stone.  Introducing Prophetic Pragmatism: A Dialogue on Hope, the Philosophy of Race, and the Spiritual Blues.  Lexington.  [Labels Cornel West’s philosophy “Tragic Transcendentalism” in one chapter.] 

Hamilton, Geoff.  A New Continent of Liberty: Eunomia in Native American Literature from Occom to Erdrich.  Virginia.  [One chapter posits that William Apess’s writings reinscribe the horrific history of Native American displacement which Emerson’s Nature blithely occludes in order to show Native peoples the way toward healing and traditional lifeways.]

Hines, Adam H.  “Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Jones, Jr.: The Subtle Rapture of Postponed Power.”  Journal of Supreme Court History, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 39-52.  [Poorly researched article finds Emerson and Holmes agreeing that “If a person strove and found success, it was because of hard work.  If an individual tried and failed, incompetence or laziness was the culprit.”]

Hosseini, Reza.  “Emerson and the Question of Style.” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 43, pp. 369-383.  [Avers that Emerson’s writing is the stuff of ordinary and relatable memory that communicates “something more basic and immediate than its arguments.”]

Howe, Jeffery, editor. William Trost Richards: Hieroglyphs of Landscape.  Chicago.  [Includes essays by Howe and James D. Wallace regarding Emerson’s influence, however indirect, on Richards.]  

Johansson, Viktor and Claudia Schumann, editors. Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 51.  [Special issue devoted to the implications of Emerson’s thought for present-day educational philosophy and through it, meaningful democratic engagement.  Includes essays by Naikito Saito, Claudia Schumann, Niklas Forsberg, Heikki A. Kovalainen, and Viktor Johansson.]

McCarraher, Eugene.  The Enchantments of Mammon: How Capitalism Became the Religion of Modernity.  Belknap.  [One chapter argues that “enchantment with power leavened Emerson’s exuberant affirmation of the marketplace” while Thoreau and others strove to free themselves and their followers from capitalism’s thrall.]

Meehan, Sean Ross.  “The Environment of Liberal Education: Emerson, Berry, and the Rhetoric of Commonplaces.”  ISLE, vol. 26, pp. 358-378.  [Places Wendell Berry in conversation with Emerson to envision a liberal arts institution whose mission is inseparable from its sustainable relationships with both community and non-human environment.]

–.  A Liberal Education in Late Emerson: Readings in the Rhetoric of Mind.  Camden House.  [Explores the tension between the emerging research university and the liberal arts college with Emerson serving as a principled holdout.]

Noble, Marianne.  Rethinking Sympathy and Human Contact in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: Hawthorne, Douglass, Stowe, Dickinson. Cambridge.  [Argues that Transcendentalists like Emerson “violently impose partiality upon the infinite” or “hide true selves” in their effort to achieve the infinite.]  

Sedarat, Roger.  Emerson in Iran: The American Appropriation of Persian Poetry.  SUNY Press.  [Argues that Emerson so (mis)appropriated such Sufi poets as Hafez and Sa’di that he belied his exhortation in “Self-Reliance” that “imitation is suicide.”]

Shaw, Dan.  Stanley Cavell and the Magic of Hollywood Films.  Edinburgh.  [In a substantial chapter drawing on Emerson, Shaw offers a Cavellian interpretation of the 2017 film The Post to illustrate the utterly necessary struggle against forces of conformity.]

Shaw, Gregory.  “Can We Recover Gnosis Today?”  Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies, vol. 4, pp. 67-80.  [Considers Emerson a modern American exponent of Gnosticism.]

Varvogli, Aliki.  “The Death of Self? Narrative Form, Intertextuality, and Autonomy in Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End.”  MFS, vol. 65, pp. 700-718.  [Shows that Ferris writes Emerson into this deeply ambivalent portrait of twenty-first century capitalism as manifested in office culture.]

Wallace, Robert M.  Philosophical Mysticism in Plato, Hegel, and the Present.  Bloomsbury. [Devotes a chapter subsection to Emerson’s Platonic pursuit of a “nurturing God within himself.”]

West, Krissie.  “The American Mythology of Individualism: Emerson, Ayn Rand, and the Romantic Child.”  ESP, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 11-14.  [While childhood for Emerson is defined by hope for “self-reliance and self –fulfillment,” Ayn Rand sees only “violence and destruction.”] 

Wineapple, Brenda, ed.  Walt Whitman Speaks.  Library of America.  [Distills nine volumes of Horace Traubel’s With Walt Whitman in Camden into one keepsake edition that introduces readers to Whitman’s thoughts on Emerson.] 

Zavatta, Benedetta.  Individuality and Beyond: Nietzsche Reads Emerson.  Oxford.  [Paints a picture of a philosopher who turned to Emerson’s writings again and again for inspiration, challenge, and even friendship.]

Zhang, Meiping.  “Pen and Bomb: Creative Agency in Paul Auster’s Leviathan.”  Journal of American Studies, vol. 53, pp. 536-55.  [Establishes parallels between Stanley Cavell’s Emerson and Auster’s writerly ethos to “cast further light on the idea of America.”] 

Zuber, Devin P.  A Language of Things: Emanuel Swedenborg and the American Environmental Imagination.  Virginia.  [Traces out a new lineage of environmentalist thought from Swedenborg to Emerson and onward to John Muir and others.]