Ralph Waldo Emerson described Bronson Alcott as “one of the most thoughtful men of America, more nearly resembling Confucius or Socrates in his devotion to wisdom than any of his contemporaries.” Henry David Thoreau said he was “the sanest man” he ever knew. In 1889, a year after Bronson Alcott’s death, a reporter for the New York Post wrote: “If one reckons up what has been done for better methods of education, for higher thinking, for the stimulation of the brightest men and women of the present generation, much of the influence that has been worked through them may be traced directly or indirectly through Bronson Alcott.”
Despite this praise from friends, in the twentieth century, Clara Endicott Sears cautioned visitors to the farmhouse where Alcott’s Fruitlands’ Con-Sociate Family lived in 1843, “Let no man cross this hearth with a mocking heart.”
Today, he is more often derided than commended. This January, join us as we discuss this controversial figure: the man, his thoughts, and his actions. Come learn and discuss in this exploration of Bronson Alcott and the world in which he lived.
Bronson the Man
January 11th | 7-8:30
He was habitually unemployed. He amassed debts he never repaid. He relied on the generosity of others. Yet his family’s love and his friends’ admiration never faltered, and he inspired a community in England to name itself for him. In what world does this happen? Bronson’s. Come learn how, and why.
January 18th | 7-8:30
Bronson Alcott wrote that his mentor in teaching was none other than Jesus Christ. Parents were wary of his methods but his students loved him. The reasons he eventually gave up teaching are both inspiring and frightening. We’ll never stop talking about education. Come, join the discussion.
Bronson Alcott, Transcendentalist
January 25th | 7-8:30
Transcendentalism was a philosophy, a reform movement, a spiritual path. Its effects unequivocally linger in literature, politics, and the nation's consciousness. Alcott was its spokesperson. He put ideas into action with the creation of the Fruitlands Con-Sociate Family at a time when New England was rife with communes. Let’s figure out what was going on, and what importance this movement held in its own time and continues to hold today.
Please note that space in this program is limited. We ask that you please pre-register online.