The American Transcendentalists: Even in its heyday in the 1830's and 40's, the Transcendentalist movement never included more than a few dozen vocal supporters, but it fostered several significant cultural precedents, including a couple of America's first utopian communities (Brook Farm and Fruitlands), an early women's rights manifesto (Fuller's Woman in the Nineteenth Century), the first enthusiastic appropriation of Asian religious ideas, and, in the travel writings of Thoreau, the nation's earliest influential environmentalism. The Transcendentalists also produced some of the richest and most original literature of the nineteenth century. The purpose of this course is two-fold: to explore in depth the principal writings of the Transcendentalists in their distinctive literary, religious, and historical settings; and to examine these texts reflexively for what they may say to us today. While sampling other writings of the period, we will read extensively in the work of three premier literary and cultural figures: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. In addition, during the last two weeks of the semester, we will consider selected poetry and prose of the belated Transcendentalist from New York City, Walt Whitman.