11ap transcendentalism Unit

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11AP Transcendentalism Unit


We are currently reading excerpts from the Transcendentalist authors Emerson and Thoreau and learning about the literary and social movement known as Transcendentalism. The purpose of the assignment below is for you to have an understanding of what Transcendentalism is, how the ideas continue to resonate in American society today, and to compare your views to those of Transcendentalist writers.


You will put the information together in a booklet with an attractive cover.

Your responses will be detailed, well written, and grammatically correct.

All pages will be typed. All sources will be included in a works cited page. Project is worth 100 points.


  1. In your own words, given an overview of Transcendentalism as a literary and social movement. DO NOT plagiarize from the internet! This is asking you to sum up what you have learned about Transcendentalism in your own words. SUBMIT THIS PART OF YOUR PROJECT TO TURNITIN.COM.

  1. One quote/explanation page from Emerson’s writing (use the excerpts we read in class.

  1. One quote/explanation page from Thoreau’s writing (class excerpts).

  1. ONE drawing, photo (must be your OWN photo, not something printed from the internet), collage, or other visual responses to the ideas of the Transcendentalist authors. Include with this a short explanation of how the visual connects to the ideas of Transcendentalism.

One creative writing response. It could be a poem, short story, or description of an experience with nature and a reflection on what it meant to you.

  1. One modern day example of Transcendentalism with explanation. Print a song lyric or poem, or reference a movie or book. Explain how the idea relates to the ideas of the Transcendentalists.

(See back for sample quote/explanation page.)

Sample quote/explanation page.

  1. Select a quote that you feel shows an important idea in Transcendentalism. Copy the quote.

  2. Explain what the quote means in your own words. (minimum of 5 sentences)

  3. Respond to the quote. That is, explain if you agree or disagree with it. Make a personal connection to your own life. (minimum of 5 sentences)

“The simple perception of forms is a delight. The influence of the forms and actions in nature, is so needful to man, that, in its lowest functions, it seems to lie on the confines of commodity and beauty. To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone. The tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again. In their eternal calm, he finds himself. The health of the eye seems to demand a horizon.” Emerson, Nature, Chapter III. Beauty

Emerson is writing about the importance of experiencing nature. People everywhere find this a true pleasure and inspiration. For people who are suffering from tedious work or annoying company, nature can help restore them to their true self. This is true for all people, no matter what their background. There is something inside us that craves an open landscape.

I strongly agree with Emerson’s idea about the importance of nature. I love walking through open space; no matter how burning and parched or how cold and muddy it may be, I still enjoy it. I moved to my home in West Hills in the San Fernando Valley about six years ago, and to my delight I discovered that there are large expanses of open space near my house (the area was supposed to be developed but after many court battles by local environmentalists the developer eventually gave up and donated the land to a public trust). I remember going for a walk in the hills several springs ago with my husband. My husband’s mother had recently passed away and my husband felt a great well of sadness inside. He questioned the purpose of our short lives, our rush of activities, our fleeting accomplishments – what did it all mean anyway? Still, the area we walked through was beautiful. Hills in many shades of browns and grays, a riot of green from the winter rains growing out of recently burned land, and the expanse of sharp blue sky. The land itself was soothing and seemed to suggest a larger meaning or purpose. He may not know the answers to monumental questions of the significance of a life, but he took comfort in the ever changing beauty of the landscape.

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