The Transcendentalists and Their World

Book cover for

Robert Gross in conversation with Scott Casper

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, at 7:00 PM ET

Approx. 60 minutes

View program - coming soon


This program will be held in person at Antiquarian Hall and livestreamed to a virtual audience on YouTube. Advance registration is required for both. Closed captioning will be available for virtual attendees. COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all in person visitors. Doors open at 6:30pm and we encourage you to arrive early to present your proof of vaccination.

How and why did Concord, Massachusetts, become the epicenter of the Transcendentalist movement?

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.

Headshot of Robert GrossAAS 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.

Headshot of Scott casperScott Casper was appointed the eighth president of the Society in December 2020. A historian of the nineteenth-century United States, he has been associated with AAS for three decades, beginning as a Peterson Fellow in 1990. Before joining AAS he served as dean of the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and as Foundation Professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno. Scott is the author of Sarah Johnson’s Mount Vernon: The Forgotten History of an American Shrine (2008) and Constructing American Lives: Biography and Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (1999), which won the book prize of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing.

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