“Successful education has the power to make the world strange again. Without any stake in the places where we live, we walk through days in which there are trees but no tree in particular, we drive along roads that could be anywhere, never registering the mountains to the east and lake to the west that determined, in fact, exactly where that route would run. . . . Such . . . experiences[s] can raise an educational community to a new level of expectation, and can help every individual in it cultivate more sustained attentiveness. Everything looks different, including the meaning of education, when we bear in mind that the world is beautiful.”
                                                                                                                                                           ~John Elder, “Teaching at the Edge”

ENGL 446: American Transcendentalism and the Prominence of Place
ENGL 447: American Literature Travel Practicum

Instructors: Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate

ENGL 446: American Transcendentalism and the Prominence of Place

Required Texts

·         Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Blithedale Romance. Any edition is acceptable (also available online).

·         Myerson, Joel, ed. Transcendentalism: A Reader. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.

·         Finch, Robert, and John Elder, ed. The Norton Book of Nature Writing. New York: Norton, 1990.

·         All other texts will be hyperlinked from the weekly WebQuests.

Required Materials

·         A “journal” of your choice (notebook, legal pad, sketchbook, blank book, etc.)

·         A writing implement of your choice (colored pencils, gel pens, ballpoint pens, fountain pen, etc.)

·         Access to Internet connection on a regular basis

·         Shepherd College student computer account

Weekly Course Requirements

·         Required readings (NOTE: the instructors reserve the right to assess completion of reading assignments with quizzes, in-class writing, or other tools should students seem to be falling behind on this requirement)

·         Completion of WebQuest activity

·         Three journal entries (see journal guidelines) (NOTE: Journals are worth 20% of the course grade.)

·         Three bulletin board posts (one post to demonstrate completion of the assigned reading, one post in response to the WebQuest, and one “open” post) (NOTE: Bulletin board posts are worth 20% of the course grade.)

·         Active participation in class discussion and regular attendance each week. No student may miss more than 1-1/2 classes without penalty to the course grade. No distinction is made between excused and unexcused absences. Being late by more than 10 minutes will count as a ½ class absence. Attendance will not be taken on “severe weather” evenings, so use your best judgment in whether you should attend class. If you live on campus or within walking distance, we will, of course, raise an eyebrow if you are not in class. J (NOTE: Attendance and class participation are worth 10% of the course grade.)

·         Be sure to bring readings AND journal to class EVERY week. Journals may be collected for feedback, response, and evaluation any week, with no prior notice. No journals will be accepted late. If the student does not have his/her journal or is not in class, he/she will receive a “zero” for the section being graded. Journals will not be collected on “severe weather” evenings.

Semester Course Requirements

·         Submit two 750- to 1000-word essays in response to WebQuests (choice of WebQuests – and thus due dates – is up to you; see more information about submitting WebQuests on the course website) (NOTE: Each essay is worth 20% of the course grade.)

·         Three polished “journal entries” for publication to the course website (students who are also enrolled in ENGL 447 will submit a total of five polished entries) (NOTE: Polished journal entries are worth 10% of the course grade.)

Week 1, January 9: The Roots of Transcendentalism

·         Introduction to course

·         American Writers: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau

Week 2, January 16: The Philosophical Foundation of Transcendentalism

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature” (Myerson 124-160, also frequently anthologized)

·         WebQuest Workshop

·         NOTE: All students must have Shepherd College user names and passwords by class time.

Week 3, January 23: Thinking Like a Transcendentalist

Wear warm clothes and walking shoes!

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar” (Myerson 195-212), “Harvard Divinity School Address” (Myerson 230-246), “Self-Reliance” (Myerson 318-340, SKIM this essay if you have read it previously) (all of these pieces are frequently anthologized)

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Brahma” (Myerson 515)

·         Andrews Norton, “The New School in Literature and Religion” (Myerson 246-250)

·         Walt Whitman, excerpts from Specimen Days and Collect (Norton 238-247)

·         Annie Dillard, excerpts from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and “Total Eclipse” (Norton 816-839)

·         Workshop on journaling

Week 4, January 30: The Ethos of Transcendentalism

·         Prospectus for The Dial (Myerson 289-290)

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Editors to the Readers” (Myerson 291-294)

·         Margaret Fuller, “A Short Essay on Critics” (Myerson 294-300)

·         A. Bronson Alcott, from “Orphic Sayings” (Myerson 300-306)

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Transcendentalist” (Myerson 366-380)

·         Sophia Ripley, “Woman” (Myerson 314-318)

·         Margaret Fuller, “The Great Lawsuit. Man vs. Men. Woman vs. Women” (Myerson 383-427)

·         Margaret Fuller, “The Wrongs of American Women. The Duty of American Women” (Myerson 484-490)

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Address at the Women’s Rights Convention” (Myerson 615-628)

·         A. Bronson Alcott, “The Doctrine and Discipline of Human Culture” (Myerson 167-180)

Week 5, February 6: The Utopian Community of Transcendentalism

·         Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance

·         Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane, “Fruitlands” (Myerson 428-429)

·         Charles Lane, “Brook Farm” (Myerson 456-461)

Week 6, February 13: Transcendentalists and Nature

Wear warm clothes and walking shoes!

·         Henry David Thoreau, Walden (review and re-read sections as you desire, as excerpted in The Norton Anthology of American Literature)

·         Henry David Thoreau, “A Winter Walk” (Myerson 442-456)

·         Henry David Thoreau, excerpt from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Norton 171-173)

·         Henry David Thoreau, excerpt from Walking (Norton 181-187)

·         Henry David Thoreau, excerpt from The Maine Woods (Norton 188-193)

·         Henry David Thoreau, excerpt from Journals (Norton 193-207)

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Thoreau” (Myerson 654-669)

Week 7, February 20: Walt Whitman, Transcendentalist Poet

·         Walt Whitman, “Preface to Leaves of Grass” (frequently anthologized)

·         Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” (frequently anthologized)

·         Walt Whitman, “Open Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson” (frequently anthologized)

·         Walt Whitman, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” (frequently anthologized)

·         Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric” (frequently anthologized)

Week 8, February 27: Emily Dickinson, Transcendentalist Poet

·         Emily Dickinson, Letters (as listed on the course website), Poems 5, 185, 214, 258, 303, 314, 324, 435, 657, 1349, 1624 (available online, course website)

Week 9, March 6: Overview of Spring Break Trip (This is for everyone!)

Wear warm clothes and walking shoes!

Before class, view travel site. It will be posted by Monday, March 4, at 5:00 pm.

Week 10, March 13: Transcendentalists and the Abolitionist Movement

·         Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (frequently anthologized – but be sure to read the entire work)

·         Henry David Thoreau, “Resistance to Civil Government” (Myerson 546-565)

·         Henry David Thoreau, “Slavery in Massachusetts” (Myerson 602-615)

·         Henry David Thoreau, “A Plea for Captain John Brown” (Myerson 628-647)

·         Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Seventh of March Speech on the Fugitive Slave Law” (Myerson 586-602)

Field Trip: March 16-23, 2002 (see ENGL 447)


Week 11, March 27: The Push Westward and the Rise of the Preservation Movement

·         John Burroughs, “In Mammoth Cave” (245-250)

·         Meriwether Lewis, excerpt from The Journals of Lewis and Clark (96-104)

·         George Catlin, excerpt from Letters and Notes on the Manners, Customs, and Conditions of the North American Indians (129-140)

·         John Wesley Powell, excerpt from Exploration of the Colorado River of the West and Its Tributaries (230-236)

·         John Muir, “A Wind-Storm in the Forests” (251-258) and “The Water-Ouzel” (258-268)

·         Clarence King, excerpt from Mountaineering in the Sierra Nevada (276-281)

·         Mary Austin, “The Land of Little Rain” (321-326)

Week 12, April 3: The Rise of Twentieth-Century Environmentalism and the Impact of Henry David Thoreau

Wear warm clothes and walking shoes!


        The Rise of Twentieth-Century Environmentalism

·         Aldo Leopold, excerpts from A Sand County Almanac (376-397)

·         Rachel Carson, “The Marginal World” (480-485)

·         Edward Abbey, “Serpents of Paradise” (614-620) and “The Great American Desert” (620-627) 

·         Jim Harrison, “The Beginner’s Mind” (760-766)

·         Doug Peacock, “The Big Snow” (833-841)

·         Wallace Stegner, “Coda: Wilderness Letter” (514-519)

·         Wendell Berry, “An Entrance to the Woods” (718-728)

·         Jan Zita Grover, “Cutover” (892-899)

·         Ellen Meloy, “The Flora and Fauna of Las Vegas” (950-959)

·         Robert Michael Pyle, “And the Coyotes Will Lift a Leg” (972-979)

·         Terry Tempest Williams, “The Clan of One-Breasted Women” (1091-1098)

       The Impact of Henry David Thoreau

·         Joseph Wood Krutch, “Love in the Desert” (398-410)

·         Edwin Way Teale, “The Lost Woods” (436-439)

·         E.B. White, “A Slight Sound at Evening” (440-448)

·         Thomas Merton, “Rain and the Rhinoceros” (546-553)

·         John Hanson Mitchell, excerpt from Living at the End of Time (791-796)

·         Michael Pollan, “Weeds Are Us” (1079-1090)

·         Jane Brox, “Baldwins” (1099-1101)

Week 13, April 10: Twentieth-Century Echoes of Whitman and Dickinson

A list of poems will be available on the course website. Each student will be responsible for “claiming” one poem (researching the poem, the poet, and reflecting on the connection to Whitman and/or Dickinson). Be prepared to make an informal presentation as part of the class discussion.

Week 14, April 17: Project Night

Be absolutely sure to bring your journal tonight!
Wear warm clothes and walking shoes!
Workshop: Preparing finished journal entries

Week 15, April 24: Contemporary Poets

Poems by Mark Doty, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Strand, and Wallace Stevens will be available on the course website.

Week 16, May 1: Contemporary Environmental Writers

Email three finished journal entries to Dr. Tate by 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 1.
Students enrolled in both ENGL 446 and ENGL 447 should submit five finished journal entries.

·         Gary Snyder, “Ancient Forests of the Far West” (663-684)

·         William Kittredge, “Owning It All” (707-718)

·         Linda Hasselstrom, “Nighthawks Fly in Thunderstorms” (845-850)

·         Trudy Dittmar, “Moose” (850-863)

·         Barry Lopez, “The American Geographies” (914-924)

·         Scott Russell Sanders, “Buckeye” (924-930)

·         Gretel Ehrlich, “Friends, Foes, and Working Anmals” (944-950)

·         Emily Hiestand, “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah” (960-966)

·         Linda Hogan, “The Bats” (967-971)

·         John Daniel, “A Word in Favor of Rootlessness” (984-990)

·         Leslie Marmon Silko, “Landscape, History, and the Pueblo Imagination” (1003-1015)

·         David James Duncan, “Northwest Passage” (1022-1027)

·         Ray Gonzalez, “The Third Eye of the Lizard” (1028-1034)

·         Gary Paul Nabhan, excerpt from The Desert Smells Like Rain (1039-1043)

·         Louise Erdrich, “Big Grass” (1043-1047)

·         David Mas Masumoto, “Planting Seeds” (1048-1051)

·         Sharman Apt Russell, “Gila Wliderness” (1052-1062)

·         Evelyn White, “Black Women and the Wilderness” (1063-1068)

·         Barbara Kingsolver, “High Tide in Tucson” (1068-1078)

·         Rick Bass, excerpt from The Ninemile Wolves (1114-1120)

·         Janisse Ray, “Built by Fire” (1131-1133), “Forest Beloved” (1133-1137)

Other essays will be available on the course website. Each student will be responsible for “claiming” one essay (researching the essay, the author, and reflecting on the connection to this course). Be prepared to make an informal presentation as part of the class discussion.

Week 17, May 8: Reflecting on the Semester

Wear warm clothes and walking shoes!

Journal website posted by Friday, May 3, 5:00 p.m. View the website (and post at least one response) by classtime Wednesday, May 8.

ENGL 447: American Literature Travel Practicum

A deposit of $100 is required in order to register for the travel course. Balance due by February 7. Single: $1400, Double $1100, Quad $800 (includes all lodging, most meals, all admissions, all transportation).


By Friday, March 1, each travel student must submit the finished version of his/her online travel guide to a selected destination. Travel guides may be written about ONE of the following destinations: Boston – Puritans and early history; Boston – Unitarians; Salem; Concord (excluding Thoreau); Walden Pond; Amherst; Whitman’s New York; and Douglass’s Maryland. The guides should focus on the particular writer’s (or writers’) relationship to the place and can include, but are not limited to, the following: map of the site; excerpts from the author’s writing about the site; photographs or other visual images of the site; history of the site; information about touring the site (with links to relevant museums, visitor centers, etc.); and tips for “hidden” literary treats. Each student in ENGL 447 MUST consult with Dr. Tate and Dr. Dwyer BEFORE starting work on the guide (as we will want to make sure that there are no overlaps). Each student is strongly encouraged to work closely with Dr. Tate in conducting the web research and in creating the actual webpage.


The complete travel website will be posted by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 4. Between Monday, March 4, and Wednesday, March 6, each ENGL 446 and ENGL 447 student must explore all of the online travel guides that have been posted. All ENGL 447 travel students will be required to post to the course bulletin board at least one full response about each of the online travel guides before the trip departure.

ASSIGNMENT #3: TRAVEL!!! (25% of course grade)

Unless extenuatinig circumstances arise, all participants MUST take part in all required activities during the trip (see itinerary below).


Each travel student will bring on the trip his/her ENGL 446 journal or notebook and will write daily reflections on course experiences. In some cases, Dr. Dwyer and Dr. Tate may provide “prompts” for journal entries. At other times, the course members themselves may create a journal “prompt.” And at other times, students may reflect in whatever way they wish on the sights and experiences of the journey.

ASSIGNMENT #5: TWO ADDITIONAL “POLISHED” JOURNAL ENTRIES (included in the 25% journal grade above)

In addition to the three polished journal entries required for ENGL 446, each student enrolled in ENGL 447 must complete two more journal entries. These do not have to be from the trip (though that would be a wonderful idea!).

TRAVEL ITINERARY: Saturday, March 16, 2002-Saturday, March 23, 2002

Saturday, March 16
(Eat breakfast BEFORE you meet us to depart for the trip—or bring it with you to eat along the way.)
Leave Shepherdstown, 8:00 a.m. (lunch en route)
Arrive Boston in the evening (dinner provided in Boston)
Overnight: Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Guest House, Boston

Sunday, March 17
Unitarian church service (optional)
Group lunch in Boston
Walking tour of historic Boston (including key points in The Scarlet Letter)
Group dinner in Cambridge/Harvard Square
Overnight: UUA Guest House, Boston

Monday, March 18

Salem (with group lunch in Salem and stops at House of the Seven Gables, Custom House, Salem Witch Museum, and Witch House)
Evening: on your own (including dinner on your own, snacks available in guest house kitchen)
Overnight: UUA Guest House, Boston

Tuesday, March 19
Concord (with group lunch in Concord, stops at the Old Manse, the Wayside, the Orchard House, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and Walden Pond)
Evening: on your own (including dinner on your own, snacks available in guest house kitchen)
Overnight: UUA Guest House, Boston

Wednesday, March 20
Drive to Harvard, Mass., to visit the Fruitlands Museums
Drive to Amherst
Amherst (group lunch in Amherst and stops at Dickinson Homestead and Jones Library, group dinner in Amherst)
Overnight: Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass. (very near Amherst)

Thursday, March 21
Drive to New York City (group lunch)
Walking tour of Walt Whitman’s New York
Group dinner in New York City
Overnight: Wellington Hotel, Manhattan

Friday, March 22
More on Whitman’s New York
Drive to Eastern Shore of Maryland (dinner enroute)
Overnight: Easton, Maryland

Saturday, March 23
Driving tour of Douglass’s Eastern Shore (with stops along the way at Covey’s Farm, St. Michael’s, Easton jail)
Group lunch in St. Michael’s
Drive to Baltimore (dinner in Fells Point) – Return to Shepherdstown by 11:00 p.m.

“American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide” was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College (now Shepherd University), Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit “About This Site.” © 2003 Linda Tate.