Posts Tagged ‘Transcendentalism’

Georgic trope in Alcott’s Transcendental Wild Oats

Louisa May Alcott’s Transcendental Wild Oats demonstrates the georgic trope found in ecocritical literature, concentrating on the portion of the passage when the Utopian community, Fruitland, was inhabited.  The georgic trope in Alcott’s Transcendental Wild Oats resembles the Biblical example that is described as incorporating religious significances with agriculture practices.

Greg Garrard’s Ecocriticism: The New Critical Idiom, describes the Biblical georgic trope’s goal as “dispensation of sacred law to a chosen people” (Garrard, 109).  The georgic trope is portrayed in Alott’s Transcendental Wild Oats as those who live in the Utopian community Fruitland as sharing the common belief “that Nature knew what was best for them, and would generously supply their needs” (Alcott, 36-37).  By strictly following the Biblical georgic trope described by Garrard, the inhabitants of Fruitland believed as Abel Lamb describe as believing in:

the devoutest faith in the high ideal which was to him a living truth, desired to plant aParadise, where Beauty, Virtue, Justice, and Love might live happily together, without the possibility of a serpent entering in (Alcott, 31).

The readers are lead to believe that Abel Lamb is the leader of Fruitland and that those who lived in the Utopian community would share his philosophy.

The georgic trope relationship is translated through the belief that Nature is the all powerful, supernatural provider that dictates what resources are available.  Believing in Nature as a provider allows those who live in Fruitland to pursue a state of harmony orParadiseas Abel Lamb described above.

However, the inhabitants of Fruitland although they perceive Nature as a powerful authority, they also see Nature as delicate and pure as Alcott describes keeping the soil virgin and to not be polluted by manure, “The garden was planted with a generous supply of useful roots and herbs; but, as manure was not allowed to profane the virgin soil, few of these vegetable treasures” (Alcott, 36).

Alcott, Loisa May. Loisa May Alcott: An Intimate Anthology. Ch/Art: Transcendental Wild oats p. 28-45. pub. Doubleday Sept 1997

Garrard, Greg. Ecocriticism.New York: Routledge, 2004.


Instructions for Group 1’s Second Blog Post: Emerson’s “Nature”

Charcoal portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson by ar...

Charcoal Portrait of Ralph Waldo Emerson by artist Eastman Johnson, 1846. Image via Wikipedia

For this blog response, you have a few different writing options. Choose only ONE of these topics to write your response. Be sure to make it clear which question you chose in the subject line of your post. Remember, this blog response is for Group 1 only!

  1. How does Emerson define nature? In answering this rather broad question, here are some smaller issues you may want to consider (remember, you do not need to answer all of these): What role do the dichotomies of human/nature, human/animal, and/or nature/culture play in his definition? Is nature (and/or people’s relationship to nature) gendered? What are the class and racial implications/meanings of his definition? How are the tropes of pastoral and/or wilderness conceptualized in this definition? How do Emerson’s views of nature compare to the other authors we’ve read in class so far or the various eco-philosophies outlined in Garrard’s Ecocriticism?  In answering this question, you may choose to focus on one chapter or make an argument about the essay as a whole.
  2. Choose one quote from Emerson’s “Nature” that you find interesting, confusing, problematic, surprising, or otherwise compelling. In your response, work closely with the quote. Why did it stand out to you? If you chose a quote that you found confusing, use the response to work through your confusion. If you found it interesting or compelling, explain why. If you choose this option, choose a long quote (a few sentences). Type your quote at the top of your post, then follow with your 300-word response (the quote is NOT considered part of the minimum word count). Be sure to give the page number for your quote in parentheses. You are not required to bring in additional quotes for the response if you choose this topic.
  3. Read “An Overview of American Transcendentalism” by Mark Bickman or the definition of Transcendentalism in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. How does Emerson’s essay reflect the values and characteristics of Transcendentalism? In answering this question, you may choose to focus on one chapter or make an argument about the essay as a whole. Feel free to also quote from either of the texts on Transcendentalism.

Remember, your posts should follow these requirements and guidelines:

  • Posts must be at least 300 words.
  • Posts must include at least one quote from the text. If you are writing about both texts, then you’ll need at least one quote from each as support.
  • Stay focused on answering the prompt question above. Avoid repeating the question and be as specific as possible in your answer.
  • Please note that you do not need to answer every “thinking question” I have posted (the questions after the bold directive). These are just options, so you could focus on one or a few. Avoid writing a response that looks like a Q & A or laundry list of answers to these smaller questions; make sure your response flows smoothly and has unity.
  • Your response should make an argument, not summarize the text.
  • Use specific moments from the text(s) to support and illustrate your argument.
  • Be sure to introduce, quote, cite, and comment on all quotes.
  • Don’t forget to tag your posts! Before adding a new tag, check the “choose from the most used tabs” menu to make sure it is not already listed.

Group 1, your blog response is due by class time on Tuesday, September 20.

Group 2, blog comments are due by class time on Thursday, September 22.