America in Class Lessons

Individualism in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”

Author: Schramm, Richard R. (NHC Vice President for Education Programs, 1984–2016)

Advisor: Capper, Charles (NHC Fellow, 1994–95; 2002–03)

In “Self-Reliance” Emerson defines individualism as a profound and unshakeable trust in one’s own intuitions. Embracing this view of individualism, he asserts, can revolutionize society, not through a sweeping mass movement, but through the transformation of one life at a time and through the creation of leaders capable of greatness.

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Subjects: Philosophy; Literary Criticism; Education Studies; Individualism; American Literature; Community; Culture; Transcendentalism