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Transcendentalism and Social Action in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A two-week institute for twenty-five college and university teachers on Transcendentalism and social reform, to be held in Concord, Massachusetts.

This institute aims to "examine the two issues in the antebellum period that have had the most transformative impact on American life: anti-slavery and abolitionism, and the women's rights movement." During the two weeks of the program, the participants investigate such topics as Concord in the Antebellum period; the religious origins of Transcendentalism; the origins of social consciousness within the movement; antislavery, abolitionism, and the debate over the use of violence in countering slavery; Transcendentalist women in Concord and women's rights; and communal and utopian communities. Scholarly lecture/discussion sessions take place in the mornings; site visits, research, and curricular work occupy the afternoons. The institute faculty includes project director Sterling Delano (English, Villanova University) and visiting scholars Robert Gross (history, University of Connecticut), Joel Myerson (American literature, University of South Carolina), Sandra Petrulionis (English and American studies, Penn State University), Wesley Mott (English, Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Laura Dassow Walls (English, University of Notre Dame), Phyllis Cole (English, Penn State University, Brandywine), John Matteson (English, John Jay College, City University of New York), and Jayne Gordon (Massachusetts Historical Society). The participants read contemporary writings by Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, William Ellery Channing, George Ripley, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Lidian Jackson Emerson, Bronson Alcott, and Charles Lane; they also read scholarly essays, many of them by members of the institute faculty. Visits are made to Walden Pond, authors' homes in Concord, the African American Heritage Trail and African American Freedom Center in Boston, and the sites of the utopian communities at Brook Farm and Fruitlands.  A variety of research facilities are also available in the area, including the Concord Free Public Library and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Faculty: Robert Gross, Joel Myerson, Leslie Wilson, Sandra Petrulionis, Jayne Gordon, Wesley T. Mott, Laura Dassow Walls, Phyllis Cole and John Matteson

Dates: July 7—20 (2 weeks)
Director(s): Sterling F. Delano, Villanova University
Grantee Institutions: Community College Humanities Association
Location: Concord, MA

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in Summer Seminars and Institutes. Each NEH Summer Seminar includes sixteen participants working in collaboration with one or two leading scholars. Participants have access to a major research collection, with time reserved to pursue individual projects.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the project.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one.

Please note:

Adjunct faculty, community college faculty and first-time participants are encouraged to apply.

Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.