Health and the Body

Mary Lamb Shelden

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Health and the Body

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This article explains famous Transcendentalists' ideas on health and the body. People such as Emerson and Alcott considered the body as a kind of pivot point between nature and spirit. Transcendentalists preached respect for historically oppressed bodies, which included the establishment of women's rights and the abolition of slavery. This fundamental core of ideas respecting the body constituted a common ground among the various and interrelated health reform movements that sprang up in the early nineteenth century: that the body had remarkable powers of self-healing; that nature offered aid in curing the body of disease; and that healthful moral living could strengthen the constitution and help prevent disease. What united the widely diverse health reforms advocated during this period was a proffered paradigm shift to a model of wellness through natural healing and disease prevention. The article also states that there was widespread interest in less radical forms of vegetarianism.

Keywords: health reforms; Fruitlands experiment; medication; homeopathy; vegetarianism

Article.  3675 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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