Notes of Conversations, 1848-1875
Edited by Karen English

About the Editor:
Karen English is a native North Carolinian who holds a BA in English from Duke University. Her graduate degrees include an MA in Comparative Literature and PhD in American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 1989, she has taught courses in American Literature and American Studies at San José State University in California. When she is not thinking about and writing about the conversations of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson Alcott, she works in the garden around an old house in downtown San José, a home she shares with her husband and two sons.




Notes of Conversations, 1848-1875 is a volume of transcripts of conversations conducted by the nineteenth-century American philosopher and educator A. Bronson Alcott at various locations in New England and the Midwest. The transcripts have been copied from unpublished manuscripts in the Alcott collection at Harvard University and Concord Free Library, as well as published contemporary articles in The Radical, New York Tribune, and Chicago Tribune. Gathered in this volume, Alcott’s transcripts vividly reflect American intellectual concerns from the years preceding the Civil War through the beginning of the Gilded Age.

In this set of remarkable documents, Alcott holds conversations on broad aspects of human culture, on literature, on philosophical idealism, on women’s roles and accomplishments, on abolition—on a whole range of social, literary, and religious reforms. Because women made up a significant portion of Alcott’s enthusiastic participants, the transcripts allow us to witness their commitment to self-culture through a popular social phenomenon—at a time when most middle- and upper-class women were not able to pursue college educations.

The transcripts make us privy to the oral performances of some of the most important reformers of the nineteenth century, men and women such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, William Lloyd Garrison, Elizabeth Peabody, and Caroline Healey Dall. Further, lists of attendees at these public conversations show that this talking phenomenal extended beyond the well-known writers, thinkers, and reformers of the age to hundreds of men and women in nineteenth-century New England and Midwestern societies.

ISBN 978-0-8386-4118-7




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