Noelle A. Baker

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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The article explains how Transcendentalists utilized the form of conversation to propagate their ideology. For Transcendentalists, conversation channeled inspiration and embodied a “free” or fluid power more commonly associated with Jesus of Nazareth, magnetism, and electricity. The article states that Transcendentalists repeatedly attempted to recreate the vitality of the concept of conversation, which assumed both print and oral forms: “parlor conversations” and advertised public classes. Margaret Fuller and Alcott conducted the most sustained and ambitious of these. They published transcriptions of such events and privately circulated bundled extracts of selected letters, verse, and journals. The article also states that the role played by female scrubs and scholars was crucial to the development of conversation as a Transcendentalist genre, for a woman-centered tradition of rhetorical practices informed its methods, goals, and influence.

Keywords: conversation; public classes; print conversation; salon experiments; parlor conversation

Article.  5912 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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