Thoreau, Emerson, Walden Pond, and More: Answering Big Questions

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Duration 01:02:01

Stanford University

Caroline Winterer is William Robertson Coe Professor of History and American Studies, as well as the Department Chair, at Stanford University. A Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, she also is a recipient of an American Ingenuity Award from the Smithsonian Institution for mapping the social network of Benjamin Franklin. She is the author of several books, including “American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason,” and her latest, entitled “Time in Maps: From the Age of Discovery to our Digital Era.”


Stressed out? Looking for inner calm? It turns out that mindfulness has been with us for a long time. Join Stanford historian Caroline Winterer for an exploration of a remarkable group of 19th-century Americans, the Transcendentalists, and how they coped with a chaotic world transformed almost overnight by massive technological and social changes. We’ll look at Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, John Muir, and other writers and artists living everywhere from the shores of Walden Pond to the snowy peaks of Yosemite. Like us, they were looking for answers to the Big Questions. A lot of the way we think about our world today came from this extraordinary group of people: ideas about nature, the individual, self-reliance, and being fully present in the moment. What can we learn from them in our own stressful era?



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Corwin May


Professor Winterer’s fluent presentation makes the material enjoyable and accessible.

2 years ago
Madonna Karr

Great stuff

This woman is amazing. So knowledgeable and personable. I would watch anything she does.

2 years ago


I knew very little about the transcendentalism movement in the U.S. I had heard of and read some of Thoreau and Emerson but this lecture brought the philosophy of the movement to the forefront along with the current impact it has on all of us. Her style of presentation is very conversational and engaging so that we, the audience, was not aware of the great amount of knowledge that we were absorbing. I would love taking a course from her.

10 months ago
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