Skip to main content

Distributed for Dartmouth College Press

Transcendental Resistance

The New Americanists and Emerson’s Challenge

Johannes Voelz offers a critique of the New Americanists through a stimulating and original reexamination of the iconic figure of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Voelz argues against the prevailing tendency among Americanists to see Emerson as the product of an “all-pervasive scope of cultural power.” Instead he shows Emerson’s philosophy to be a deft response to the requirements of lecturing professionally at the newly built lyceums around the country. Voelz brings to light a fascinating organic relationship between Emerson’s dynamic style of thinking and the uplifting experience demanded by his public. This need for an audience-directed philosophy, the author argues, reveals the function of Emerson’s infamous inconsistencies on such issues as representation, identity, and nation. It also poses a major counter-argument to the New Americanists’ dim view of Emerson’s individualism and his vision of the private man in public. Challenging the fundamental premises of the New Americanists, this study is an important, even pathbreaking guide to the future of American studies.

336 pages | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4

History: American History

View all books from Dartmouth College Press

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Abbreviations • Introduction • EMERSON AND REPRESENTATION • The New Americanists and Representation: Between Interpellation and Reification • The New Americanists and Postparadigmatic American Studies • The Crews-Pease Debate • The New Americanist Emerson: Empty Signification and the In-Between • Representing Potentiality • Emerson as Lecturer • Emerson’s Theory of Representation • Receptivity and Expression • EMERSON AND IDENTITY • The New Americanists and the Violence of Identity • The New Americanists and the Debate over Identity • Emerson and His Emersonian Critics • Denials of Reciprocity • Identity and the Parsimonious Recognition of “Friendship” • Identity, Recognition, and Approbation • The Masochism of the Double Standard • Weak Time • “Friendship” and Textual Recognition • EMERSON AND THE NATION • New Americanist Turns: Empire, Transnationalism, and Utopianism • Empire Criticism • The Transnational Turn • Emerson’s Organicist Nationalism • Nationalism as Idealist Organicism • The Critique of Materialism and the Two Cosmopolitanisms • Kossuth and the Politics of Abstraction • Epilogue • Notes • Bibliography • Index

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press