Now that my American Lit final is over I am done! Done. Done with undergrad work forever. I don't really feel much. I thought it'd be pretty excited, but I'm more or less feeling like I always do. Huh.
My favorite American Literature author that I read this semester would have to be Ralph Waldo Emerson. We read his Nature, "Self-Reliance", and The American Scholar. actually found a podcast of Nature on learnoutloud.com for free, so I listened while some guy with a deep voice read my homework to me on my iPod. Let me tell you, that is the way to do class assignments!
I think what Emerson was writing 100+ years ago is still relevant today. He values the thoughts, actions, and judgment of the individual. He disdains the concept of society because he believes it destroys the virtue of its individual members. He calls it a "conspiracy" against man. He says, "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist," as well as, "Our housekeeping is mendicant, our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlor soldiers". He is outraged that people are not forging new ideas for themselves.
I would ask, doesn't every generation struggle with the creation of a new identity? In today's age where non-conformity is common, is traditionalism the new individualism? And is it even possible to not let society chose our paths for us? We can't all go live in the woods and develop our own transcendentalism.