American Exceptionalism In Ralph Waldo Emerson's The American Scholar

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The American Scholar and American Exceptionalism Ralph Waldo Emerson’s oration The American Scholar is a speech about the role he sees for the United States in the world and an example of American Exceptionalism. In this oration, delivered before the Phi beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge Massachusetts, on the 31st of August 1837, Emerson uses the Scholar as an abstract for the United States as a nation. The function and importance attributed to the scholar by Emerson mirrors the function Emerson sees for the United States as a whole. Just as the scholar must be an example to society, the United States must be one for the world. The oration is divided into five parts. Each part describes an aspect of the true scholar and, therefore, a goal that…show more content…
The first such indication of American exceptionalism can be found in the title given to the oration. In his speech, he refers to ‘the scholar’ seventeen times, but only twice does he speak directly of the ‘American scholar’. Despite this fact, the title of his oration is not simply “The Scholar”, but very distinctly contains the word “American”. This choice of title already indicates that the American scholar is distinguished from other scholars, simply by being American. In her book Peacemakers, Margaret Macmillan states the following about American…show more content…
Emerson makes a point of addressing the importance for the scholar to not only gain knowledge beyond that of the past, but also to actively share this new found knowledge with the society and the world. This sharing of knowledge must be done in order to return the world to its original state of unity. By naming his oration The American Scholar and not simply the scholar, Emerson creates a stress on the word American. This stressing of the word American implies that being an American scholar, and not simply any sort of scholar, is
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