Date of Award:

5-2007

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

English

Advisor/Chair:

Paul Crumbley

Abstract

Ralph Waldo Emerson is a great American literary figure that began his career as a minister at Boston’s Second Church. He discontinued his ministry to become an essayist and lecturer and continued as such for the remainder of his life. This thesis was written with the intent of demonstrating that, in spite of leaving the ministry, Emerson continued to be religious and a religionist throughout his life and that he promulgated a unique religion based upon the principle of self-reliance. At the heart of Emerson’s religion of self-reliance is the doctrine of perfectionism, the infinite capacity of individuals. This thesis defines Emerson’s perfectionism and then tries to locate him in American Studies by contextualizing him with three of his religious contemporaries that were also preaching the doctrine of perfectionism. (109 pages)

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