From Emerson to King: Democracy, Race, and the Politics of Protest
Oxford University Press, 1997 M06 26 - 272 pages
This book traces a provocative line from Emerson's work on race, reform, and identity to work by three influential African- American thinkers--W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cornel West--each of whom offers subtle engagement with both the tradition of written protest and the critique of liberalism Emerson shaped. Emerson has been cast in recent debate as either an antinomian or an ideologue--as either subversive of institutional controls or indebted to capitalism. Here, Patterson contributes a more nuanced view, probing Emerson's record and its cultural and historical matrix to document a fundamental rhetoric of contradiction--a strategic aligning of opposed political concepts--that enabled him to both affirm and critique elements of the liberal democratic model. Drawing richly on topics in political philosophy, law, religion, and cultural history, Patterson examines the nature and implications of Emerson's contradictory rhetoric in parts I and II. In part III she considers Emerson's legacy from the perspective of African-American intellectual history, identifying fresh continuities and crucial discontinuities between the canonical strain of protest writing Emerson helped establish and African-American literary and philosophical traditions.
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African-American American Scholar Arendt argues associated body Bois's boundaries Cambridge Cavell chapter Christian cited parenthetically civil disobedience claims concept consent Constitution contractarianism contradiction Cornel West critique of liberal Crummell culture democracy democratic discourse distinction double-consciousness early writings emblematic Emerson's critique Emerson's thinking Emerson's writings Emersonian English Traits Essays existence expression fact freedom friends friendship Hannah Arendt human iconography ideal imagining individual insists Joel Porte King's labor lecture Locke Locke's Lockean Martin Luther King Masonic meaning Montaigne moral national identity nationalist nature Negro nineteenth-century observes ownership passage persons philosophy poetic political community political obligation popular property rights public realm racial racialist Ralph Waldo Emerson reform relations religious representation representative rhetoric self-culture self-ownership Self-Reliance sermon significance simultaneously slavery slaves social society soul Stanley Cavell Subsequent references Thoreau thought tradition University Press visible vision W. E. B. Du Bois York