Objective: The point within history and the development of our society in which Ralph Waldo Emerson lived plays a major role in shaping his views, and therefore his work. In this lesson, students will gather information about the historical and philosophical setting of the essay.
1) Allow students to work in groups or alone. Have them use the Internet or other resources to gather some information about the Age of Enlightenment. When they are finished, lead a class discussion about the principles of Enlightenment (such as a focus on society, common sense, reason and natural law), asking students for input based on their research.
2) Lecture: Explain to the class in a brief lecture that Romanticism as a philosophical and cultural movement gradually replaced Enlightenment. Be sure to convey the main characteristics of Romanticism: focus on the individual, a celebration of nature and the reliance on emotion and intuition...
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