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Lecture 1

ENGL 40761 Lecture 1: January 19th Class Notes emerson 1

3 Pages

Course Code
ENGL 40761
Fredman Stephen

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January 19 , 2017 – “The Poet” by Ralph Waldo Emerson • Life of Emerson o Emerson was an importanthliterary and ethical thinker, essayist, and philosopher in the 19 century United States (a “rock star” of lecturers) o Lived to be nearly 80 but suffered from dementia near the end…his reputation took a huge dive after he died—people began to view him as a mere booster of American enterprise o His work and reputation rose once more in the mid-20 century o Many European philosophers (such as Nietzsche) were greatly influenced by Emerson • Form o Long prose sentences, many appositives o Resembles Walt Whitman (whom Emerson greatly influenced) o Resembles Michel de Montaigne, originator of the essay ▪ Often circles arguments without stating them outright o Meandering o When he offers paragraph transitions, they tie in his major points (“For ___, ___”). Transitions often missing. ▪ They also tend to acknowledge the previous paragraph or idea o A lack of transitions between sentences, yet there’s not a lack of flow (he once compared his sentences to “globes” that he worries have trouble penetrating one another) ▪ His sentences correspond to some larger principle or idea even though they might seem disconnected on the page (Emerson referred to himself as a “writer of sentences”) ▪ He used to keep a journal and indexed his thoughts by topic (the poet, fate, etc.)—to form his lectures and later write his essays, he cut and pasted from his personal writings (almost like a collage) • This is why it seems like his sentences do not always logically follow one another • What is experience? o An interaction with an object o Having done something or having been through some situation o Perception—needing an external world for us to interact with (the five senses) in addition to internal experience (proprioception) o Necessarily personal (different people can do the same thing but have different experiences)  Some real person in some real place o Something fully lived through  the more someone pays attention or is conscious, the more “experience” they will take away o American Pragmatism: what’s real is what is experienced, not what is abstract or what is platonically ideal or what somebody wishes/expects to happen ▪ John Dewey believes that experience is the most important quality of human life  it unites our everyday lives and culture with science and experiments…Art as Experience (1934): all art is based upon experience in addition to producing experience itself (he disliked museums and concert halls because they elevate the art and put it on a pedestal) • What is the relationship between experience and tradition? o Perhaps the aim is to get different people to experience the same thing by sharing a single tradition o Maybe the aim of tradition is an infini
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