American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide



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WebQuest: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance

Overview: In this WebQuest, you will explore sites related to Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance as well as related sites about the Brook Farm Community and the Utopian movement. First you will read resources that will give you some general information about the Brook Farm experiment. This is the model that Hawthorne uses to create his fictional account of the utopian communities.

Step 1: Explore Utopian Communities in nineteenth-century America.

Read about the general utopian community movement in nineteenth-century America. Read about Fruitlands and Bronson Alcott’s participation in utopian communities. Explore further information about Fruitlands as well as Charles Fourier whose philosophy greatly influenced utopian communities. Read about Brook Farm and look at a map of the community.

Step 2: Explore Hawthorne’s life and work.

Read about Hawthorne’s life (good chronology included).
You may want to explore Hawthorne’s childhood home at the Hawthorne in Salem Website. You can also learn about The Wayside (Hawthorne’s Home in Concord). You can learn more about Hawthorne’s life and work at The Nathaniel Hawthorne Page (Unfortunately, this site has been down for a while—but maybe it will be restored to life soon!) Finally, take some time to learn a little bit about the famous friendship between Hawthorne and Melville.

Step 3: Learn about Hawthorne’s fictional account of the utopian community movement.

Read Henry James's comments on Hawthorne’s stay at Brook Farm. Consider the following discussion and study questions about The Blithedale Romance:
Discussion Questions
Study Questions

Exploration Questions

Study Guide

For further research, see the Selected Bibliography at Donna Campbell’s Gonzaga University site.
For an interesting perspective on women’s issues in Hawthorne’s text, see "The Triumph of the "True Woman" in The Blithedale Romance." For a humorous take, see Edgar Allan Poe’s "How To Write a Blackwood Article."

Journal Prompts
As always, at least one of your journal entries this week should be in response to the WebQuest. Here are some possible prompts to get you started on that task (but you aren’t limited to these starting points!).

Essay Question

Based on your understanding of Transcendentalism and your research about the utopian movement, explore one or two reasons that Hawthorne cites as failures in the Brook farm experiment. Using the novel and the resources in the WebQuest, discuss your reasons with some depth. See the Essay Guidelines for more detail about research, sources, length requirements, and documentation. Essay due to Dr. Dwyer via email by Wednesday, January 30, at 3:00 p.m.

"American Transcendentalism: An Online Travel Guide" was produced by students in ENGL 446, American Transcendentalism, and ENGL 447, American Literature and the Prominence of Place: A Travel Practicum. These courses were team-taught in the Department of English at Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in Spring 2002 by Dr. Patricia Dwyer and Dr. Linda Tate. For more information on the course and the web project, visit "About This Site." İ 2003 Linda Tate.