The Transcendental Moment: Romantic Intellect and America's Democratic Awakening


ACLS Fellowship Program




This is the first comprehensive history of American Transcendentalism. It focuses on the movement's leaders, interactions, and writings in a thick narrative of connected episodes embedded in overlapping networks of their followers, publics, and milieus. Transcendentalism’s central historical contribution—the intellectual invention of idealist individuality in America—is an alternative vision of democratic society and culture to that of the predominant ideologies of democracy, one that retains affinities with popular "liberal Romantic" movements of reform. As America's primordial "avant-garde" intellectual class, the Transcendentalists foreshadowed major tensions between democratic values, liberal religion, and cultural critique in the modern era.