The Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education, was a short-lived utopian experiment in communal living. “Brook Farm, a cooperative community established in 1841 in West Roxbury (now part of Boston) was a joint-stock company run by leaders of the philosophical movement known as transcendentalism.” (“Perspectives In American Literature Guide” Online) Brook Farm was formed to combine the thinker and the worker. “As thinkers, mankind have ever divided into two sects, Materialists and idealists; the first class founding on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class perceive that the senses are not final, and say, The senses give us representations of things, but what are the things themselves, they cannot tell,” (Emerson, 91) The guarantee of mental freedom, and a society of liberal, cultivated persons, drew many of the great minds of the time together. Within the framework of the Farm, they lived, worked and created as a communal entity. Their relations with each other permitted a more wholesome and simpler life than could be led amid the pressure of competitive institutions. .” (Wilson, 25) Brook Farm was one of many experiments in communal living that took place in the United States during the first half of the 19th century. It is better known than most because of the distinguished literary figures and intellectual leaders associated with it.
Every society known to man has used either race, class, ethnicity, gender or all of the above to determine placement in civilization. Sometimes one or more of these categories comingle and we characterize this as: intersectionality. Finding the words, however, to define class, race, gender, or intersectionality is not an easy feat. Throughout the past few weeks we have read many articles that ...
Brook Farm was organized and virtually directed by George Ripley, a former Unitarian minister, and editor of The Dial (a critical literary monthly).
Ripley was also a leader in the Transcendental Club, an informal gathering of intellectuals of the Boston area. His wife, Sophia Dana Ripley, a woman of wide culture and academic experience, aided him. According to the articles of agreement, the project was financed by the sale of stock, a purchaser of one share automatically becoming a member of the institute, which was governed by a board of directors. The profits, if any, were “divided into a number of shares corresponding to the total number of man-days of labour; every member was entitled to one share for each day’s labour performed.” (Ripley, 36).
Brook Farm attracted not only intellectuals but farmers and craftsmen as well. It paid $1 a day for work (physical or mental) to men and women and provided housing, clothing, and food at approximately actual cost to all members and their dependents. For four years the commune published The Harbinger, a weekly magazine devoted to social and political problems.
Among the original inhabitants were journalist Charles A. Dana and author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who served together as the first directors of agriculture. “Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller, Elizabeth Peabody, Theodore Parker, and Orestes A. Brownson were among its interested visitors.” (Wilson, 25).
“The common thread uniting the creative commune was a growing belief in Transcendentalism.”(“Perspectives In American Literature Guide” Online).
“In philosophy and literature, the transcendentalist believes in a higher reality than that found in sense experience or in a higher kind of knowledge than that achieved by human reason. ( Emerson 90 ) Nearly all transcendentalist doctrine stemmed from the division of reality into a realm of spirit and a realm of matter.
“The transcendentalists were influenced by romanticism, especially such aspects as self-examination, the celebration of individualism, and the extolling of the beauties of nature and humankind. ( Wilson 19) In its most specific usage, Transcendentalism was developed in the U.S. in the first half of the 19th century, through the efforts of the commune at Brook Farm. Brook Farm was noted particularly for the modern educational theory of its excellent school, which sought to establish “perfect freedom of relations between students and teaching body.” (” Perspectives In American Literature Guide” Online).
Transcendentalism For the transcendentalist, the "I" transcends the corporeal and yet nature is the embodiment of the transcendence and, or, the means to achieving transcendence, which gives way to a belief that the physical "I" is at the root of all transcendence. In practical terms, the transcendentalist is occupied with the natural over the synthetic (though it is doubtful that either Kant or ...
Discipline at the school was never punitive; rather, it consisted of a gentle attempt to instill in the student a sense of personal responsibility and to communicate a passion for intellectual work. There were no prescribed study hours, and each student was required to give a few hours a day to manual labour. At Brook Farm there was an infant school, a primary school, and a college preparatory course covering six years.( Ripley 36).
Although communal living proved to have disadvantages (Hawthorne found that he was unable to write there and left after six months), for a while it seemed that the ideal of the founders would be realized. Within three years the community–or “Phalanx,” as it was called after 1844, had added four houses, workrooms, and dormitories. It then put all available funds into the construction of a large central building to be known as the Phalanstery. The Phalanstery, a combination of the words monastery and philanthropy, burned to the ground as its completion was being celebrated. ( Wilson 19).
Though the colony struggled on for a while, the enterprise gradually failed; the land and buildings were sold in 1849. Ripley, George.
The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. New York: Putnam, !907. Vol. 15 Prt. 1 Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Emerson on Transcendentalism.
New York: The Continuum Publishing Company, 1986. Wilson, Leslie. “New England Transcendentalism.” The Concord Magazine Reuben, Paul. ” Perspectives in American Literature Guide. ” (Online).
Available- URL: http://www.Csustan.edu-english-reuben-pal-chap.4. 05/04/00