Do you relish the idea of in-depth study with dynamic and enlightening faculty? Have you ever wanted to take advantage of the many resources on Yale`s campus that you haven`t had time to explore? This summer, you’re invited to an immersive and all-inclusive on-campus experience designed to give you insider access to the University’s unique treasures with dedicated professors as your partners in exploration.
Yale Alumni Academy’s immersive summer seminars feature themes in the humanities for a small group of passionate learners. The select group of alumni who join these courses will be treated to an intensely engaging, participatory, social, and scholarly adventure as Yale students. You’ll dive into a residential experience together, enjoying exclusive meals and events with faculty, exploring the University’s private collections and indulging in the libraries, the museums and the campus’ newest facilities. There are no papers, assignments or tests; just a passion for learning adventures. Accommodations, meals, and course materials are all included in the one registration price.
This course, co-sponsored by Yale’s Humanities Program, and led by Director of Undergraduate Studies and Lecturer, Paul Grimstad, will explore the moral, philosophical, religious and literary revolution that has come to be known as New England Transcendentalism with a focus on two of its most representative figures, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Through our comprehensive readings of their literary legacies, we will raise philosophical, practical and critical questions such as: What exactly did Emerson mean by “self-reliance”? What did Thoreau mean by "civil disobedience"? What were the social reforms proposed by various aspects of transcendentalist thought and writing? What does "transcendental" really mean in the nineteenth century historical context, and in our own times?
Our faculty leader Paul Grimstad, author of the award-winning Experience and Experimental Writing: Literary Pragmatism from Emerson to the Jameses, will bring a dynamic collection of guest experts to the course including Professor Ross Posnock and Professor Branka Arsić of Columbia University, and Professor Joseph Urbas of Université Bordeaux Montaigne, all noted scholars in the field.
Inspired by the lens of philosophy at the core of Yale’s Directed Studies program, we will read a wide variety of Emerson’s most significant works from his pantheistic book-length essay “Nature,” as well as his epoch-making addresses on “The American Scholar,” The Divinity School Address" and "Self-Reliance," to his later writings on the Fugitive Slave Law and the Conduct of Life. Together we’ll trace the first stirrings of transcendentalism within Boston Unitarian circles in the 1820s and 1830s, to Emerson’s leaving his pulpit in the Second Church of Boston (claiming not to be able to go through with the Lord’s Supper ritual).
Our study of Emerson will be paired with a close reading of works from his friend (and mentee and tenant) Henry David Thoreau, who some say put into lived practice things Emerson only theorized about. Thoreau’s daily journals while living alone at Walden pond, the book he made from that excursion, and his own essay on “Civil Disobedience” are among the selected readings for our course. Both figures raised issues that have remained strikingly relevant in our own era.
Placing Emerson and Thoreau among their contemporaries, we will consider figures close to the transcendentalist movement, such as Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker and Frederick Henry Hedge. This course promises to be a rich and stimulating immersion in what scholar Perry Miller called an “indispensable chapter in the making of the American mind.” We hope you will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to enrich your mind and your soul, reconnect with Yale in a most meaningful way, amongst a vibrant community of “Yale Alumni Scholars.”
What Alumni Are Saying About Summer Immersion at the Academy
“I find the experience to be an embarrassment of riches, absorbing the wisdom of faculty members, guest speakers and great support by Yale Alumni Academy. Well done! It doesn’t get any better.”
“Yale Alumni Academy courses represent the best of a Yale education. The courses are chosen for their popularity and relevance, the professors are chosen for their teaching, research, and writing skills and the students are curious and motivated.”
“I didn`t quite know what to expect before the class, but I didn`t expect it to be this refreshing and stimulating. The presentation and discussion are so engrossing that hours fly by without my realizing it. After each one, I eagerly looked into the books mentioned at class, and dove into the reading for the next session. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity for continued learning at Yale.”
The immersion experience begins as soon as you register and receive your books. By June, you will be ready for one week of intensive study with a collegial group of dedicated learners, a passionate faculty leader and special guest presenters.
The main course sessions will include daily small-group seminars held on campus and led by faculty and guest speakers. Alumni participants will come together for a scholarly endeavor that hearkens to the days of being a student again. Group discussions provide ample opportunity to engage with experts and peers, informed by comprehensive readings and complementary materials from Yale collections: galleries, libraries and museums. Special guest speakers add context to the themes of the syllabus, and evening salons create space to share new ideas and understandings from the lectures and readings. This program has been specially designed for Yale Alumni Academy by Professor Grimstad and The Humanities Program at Yale. We invite you to enjoy the privilege of an intimate and bespoke classroom experience with an excellent study leader.
Registration for this Yale Alumni Academy course includes accommodations at the Omni Hotel in Downtown New Haven, all meals and program activities for the week. Meals take you on a journey through New Haven`s vibrant restaurant scene along with privately catered sessions with your faculty and special guests. All readings and course materials are also included. Transportation to and from New Haven and items of a personal matter such as laundry and alcoholic beverages are not included.