- Megan Marshall, author of the biographies The Peabody Sisters and, most recently, Margaret Fuller: A New American Life;
- Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, author of Tinkers and Enon;
- Dan McKanan, the Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity at at the Harvard Divinity School, author of Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition.
This week on Open Source, revisiting the birthplace of the American mind. Five houses on three streets within a period of five years in Concord, Massachusetts launched American literature and poetry, the environmental movement, progressive politics, feminism, and new ideas about religion and education. Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, the Alcotts, and their friends and neighbors. The Transcendentalists are coming. What is the legacy of this American renaissance? What do these thinkers mean to you?
• Geraldine Brooks, “Orpheus at the Plough,” a short biography of A. Bronson Alcott in The New Yorker;
• Kathryn Harrison, “Vindication,” a review of Megan Marshall’s Margaret Fuller: A New American Life;
• The critic Sven Birkerts on translating Emerson into today’s language;
• Paul Harding’s interview with the literary journal, Tin House:
I adore the transcendentalists. Emerson is right at the top of my list. Thoreau is not too far behind. I also think of Hawthorne, Melville… even Wallace Stevens kind of comes out of that tradition. Emily Dickenson—Writers like that. Some people do think Tinkers has sort of an archaic feel, maybe just because it’s set 90 to 100 years ago, and goes even further back. Some of that has to do with the fact that I like the idea of stripping away some of the more prominent distractions of current material culture, which I think can set up sort of a veil of white noise—It’s difficult to see or hear somebody’s mind.
• and Dan McKanan’s essay on the spiritual heritage of the Occupy movement.