The Transcendentalists and Their World


American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, MA 01609
United States

Join historian Robert Gross as he discusses his new book The Transcendentalists and Their World, which offers a fresh view of the thinkers and writers whose impact on philosophy and literature would spread from Concord to all corners of the earth. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau called this New England town home, but Concord from the 1820s through the 1840s was no pastoral place fit for poets and philosophers. The Transcendentalists and their neighbors lived through a transformative age of American life. Changes brought on by the expansive forces of capitalism and democracy challenged a world of inherited institutions and involuntary associations with a premium on autonomy and choice. They fostered uncertainties, raised new hopes, stirred dreams of perfection, and created an audience for innovative ideas of individual freedom and democratic equality deeply resonant today.


AAS member and former councilor, Robert A. Gross is the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Professor Emeritus of Early American History at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of the Bancroft Prize-winning, The Minutemen and Their World (Hill and Wang, 1976), and co-editor with Mary Kelley of An Extensive Republic, volume two of the AAS-sponsored History of the Book in America. His recent book, The Transcendentalists and Their World (Farrar, Staus & Giroux, 2021) was named one of the "ten best books" of 2021 by the Wall Street Journal. In 2002, Gross held the Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society, where he conducted research for The Transcendentalists and Their World.