Our Common Dwelling: Henry Thoreau, Transcendentalism, and the Class Politics of Nature

Paperback | May 15, 2008

byLance Newman

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Lance Newman explores why America's first literary circle turned to nature in the 1830s and 40s. When the New England Transcendentalists spiritualized nature, they were reacting to intense class conflict in the region's industrializing cities. Their goal was to find a secular foundation for their social authority as an intellectual elite. Our Common Dwelling engages with works by William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and others. The works of these great authors, interpreted in historical context, show that both environmental exploitation and conscious love of nature co-evolved as part of the historical development of American capitalism.

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Lance Newman explores why America's first literary circle turned to nature in the 1830s and 40s. When the New England Transcendentalists spiritualized nature, they were reacting to intense class conflict in the region's industrializing cities. Their goal was to find a secular foundation for their social authority as an intellectual eli...

Lance Newman is Associate Professor of Literature and Writing Studies, California State University at San Marcos.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:274 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.62 inPublished:May 15, 2008Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230602444

ISBN - 13:9780230602441

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Table of Contents

The Commitments of Ecocriticism * The Nature of Cultural History * Class Struggle in New England * Transcendentalism as a Social Movement * Nathaniel Hawthorne, Democracy, and the Mob * Margaret Fuller, Rock River, and the Condition of America * William Wordsworth in New England and the Discipline of Nature * William Wordsworth, Henry David Thoreau, and the Poetry of Nature * Ralph Waldo Emerson, Orestes Brownson, and Transcendentalism * Transcendentalist Reformers, Scholars, and Nature * Brook Farm and Association * Capitalism and the Moral Geography of Walden * Walden, Association, and Organic Idealism * Nature, Politics, and Thoreau's Materialism * Wild Fruits, Capitalism, and Community * Ecocriticism and the Uses of Nature Writing * Marxism, Nature, and the Discipline of History

Editorial Reviews

“Newman’s approach allows him to present a rich, if economical history of transcendentalism that recognizes the movement’s heterogeneity, its emergence out of the crucible of class conflict, and Thoreau’s embeddedness within a larger exploration of meaningful responses to sociocultural changes wrought by capitalist industrialization.”--American Literature“In this brilliant and urgent book, Newman clears away the cobwebs to reintroduce us to our radical contemporary: Thoreau."—Mike Davis, author of Ecology of Fear and Late Victorian Holocausts"Our Common Dwelling is an ambitious and substantial reinterpretation of nineteenth- century New England literature. Newman is one of the most penetrating and forceful voices among the new wave of American ecocritics."—Lawrence Buell, author of The Environmental Imagination and Writing for an Endangered World"This illuminating study explores, in essence, the intellectual roots of the social movements known today as environmental justice and liberation ecology."—Scott Slovic, author of Seeking Awareness in American Nature Writing“Urgent, powerful, thoughtful, clear-sighted: this is engaged criticism at its finest. Anyone interested in Thoreau, ecocriticism, or environmental justice will find here both provocation and hope.”—Laura Walls, author of Seeing New Worlds: Henry Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science