Your third paper should be based upon any of the texts we studied from Unit 3: The American Renaissance. You should select one text for your analysis. However, I will make exceptions if you are exploring a common theme, such as the individual’s relationship to society in Thoreau and Emerson. Likewise, should you choose Whitman or Dickinson’s poems, you must select a single poem or a single theme that connects multiple poems.
You must have at least four outside scholarly sources for your paper. Scholarly sources are found in academic journals, books, and in some professional academic websites (for instance, some postings on The Junto Blog — https://earlyamericanists.com/ — are documented, scholarly explorations of early American literature, history, and culture). Information literacy is a key component to developing good research skills regardless of your field of study. Do not try to foist off answers.com, shmoop.com, etc. as scholarly sources.
As always, the key to your paper’s success will be a strong thesis that makes a claim about the text. This claim is often called an argument, but it can also be understood as an interpretation. Your thesis, therefore, should be providing the reader with an interpretation of the text. An interpretation is not a description of what happens in the text. It’s not a plot summary. An interpretation claims to get at the meaning of a text: it goes beyond description to assign meaning to the events that happen in a text. For instance, in The Scarlet Letter, it’s pretty clear that the letter A is a symbol, and moreover it’s a symbol that appears in multiple ways and has multiple meanings. Claiming that the letter A is symbolic does not make a claim or provide an interpretation of the text. Even claiming that it has multiple meanings does not tell the reader anything about the meaning of the text. However, moving toward a thesis that engages in the problem of the A having many meanings or the A’s meaning being undermined by some event or action gets you closer to interpreting the text. Please read Michael Berube’s “Analyze, Don’t Summarize” article on Blackboard as an aid to understanding the important difference between retelling a text and analyzing/interpreting it.
Specific formatting requirements:
Use MLA style for your paper. The MLA revised its style guide with the release of the 8th edition of the MLA Handbook in 2016. Please make sure you consult an up to date style guide online or in print.
The paper must be 7 pages of text (works cited page does not count in this page count), double spaced, normal font and margins (and yes, MLA does have guidelines for font and margins).
Use at least 5 scholarly outside sources for your paper.
Have a thesis (See above).
Here is what I already have done:
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Nature” in 1836. This nonfiction work is about the natural environment and Emerson’s feelings toward nature. The work as eight chapters: Nature, Commodity, Beauty, Language, Discipline, Idealism, Spirit, and Prospects. Emerson describes the divisions created by the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. These eight chapters help explain the beautiful nature and what nature truly entails.
In the first chapter, Nature, Emerson describes how we are truly by ourselves. Solitude is something that is more than just being alone and is somewhat unmediated, in nature. Emerson explains that many people do not see the sun, but only have a superficial perspective. “The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child” (Emerson, p. 183).
In the second chapter, Commodity, Emerson ranks advantages to our senses that are owed to nature. “The misery of man appears like childish petulance, when we explore the steady and prodigal provision that has been made for his support and delight on this green ball which floats him through the heavens” (Emerson, p. 185). Emerson asks what creature created the things that inhabit the earth, like the ocean, the stars, fire, flowers and so much more.
In the third chapter, Beauty, Emerson describes the three aspects of beauty. The first aspect is “the simple perception of natural forms is a delight” (Emerson, p. 186). The simple cyclical act of the leaves changing shows the awe of the nature’s beauty. The second aspect is “the presence of a higher, namely, of the spiritual element is essential to its perfection” (Emerson, p.187). The transcendentalists have a weird approach to a higher being. Emerson was a trained Unitarian Preacher. Unitarian Universalists has a loose perception of God, they believe Nature is God, which is as close as someone can get to Atheism with still believing in God. They believe in being spiritual, which has meaning that is beyond a person, but includes a person. They also believe that nature is divine. “There is still another aspect under which the beauty of the world may be viewed, namely, as it becomes an object of the intellect” (Emerson, p. 188). This third aspect is about the intellectual relationship with nature. People start to think about the spiritual connections of the objects in nature and the patterns within nature. Emerson wants people to be able to go into nature, set their minds straight outside of the human possessions. Emerson believes that people are trapped by their possessions.
In the fourth chapter, Language, Emerson describes how “nature is the vehicle, and threefold degree” (Emerson, p. 189). The first part is “words are signs of natural facts” (Emerson, p. 189). Language is all about history. Each word can help express feelings and facts. However, each word can be traced back to something material. For example, when someone says heart to emotion or head to express thought. The second part is “particular natural facts are symbols of particular spiritual facts” (Emerson, p. 189). Each word is can display some type of symbol. “Every appearance in nature corresponds to some state of the mind, and that state of the mind can only be described by presenting that natural appearance as its picture” (Emerson, p. 190). For example, a lamb is a symbol of innocence. The third part is “nature is the symbol of spirit” (Emerson, p. 190). This part is about how humans can give symbols to nature, for example, “a rolling stone gathers no mass” (Emerson, p. 193).
In the fifth chapter, Discipline, Emerson talks about two lessons. The first lesson is that “nature is a discipline of the understanding in intellectual truths” (Emerson, p. 194).
In the sixth chapter, Idealism, Emerson looks at nature in a philosophical way. Is nature real or a state in our mind? What is real and how do we know it is real? “The idea that the mind cannot know material things in themselves is associated with Bishop George Berkeley, whose writings were an important influence on Emerson” (Emerson, p. 199, footnote 2). Emerson is trying to convince his readers to get back to nature.
In the seventh chapter, Spirit, Emerson
In the eighth chapter, Prospects, Emerson
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “Nature” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, edited by Julia Reidhead, 9th ed., vol. A, W.W. Norton, 2017, pp. 181.
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