1. ワークショップII (エマソンを読む会)(全学教育棟本館C13講義室)

ワークショップII (エマソンを読む会)(全学教育棟本館C13講義室)

Reading Nature, Teaching Nature

責任者・司会・発表者
三重大学 小田 敦子
発表者
奈良女子大学名誉教授 藤田 佳子
大阪樟蔭女子大学 武田 雅子
Colgate University Sarah Wider
(Emerson Society 元会長)



Nature and “The American Scholar” are often taught together in introductory classes to Emerson. Nature , however, is far more difficult to read or interpret. Its quantum leaps past conventional reasoning and analytic structure often thwart readers who feel as though their tools are not adequate to their work. As Elizabeth Peabody commented in her review of Nature , the reader needs to read Emerson’s work as a “prose poem.” She used the word “poetic” not in the pejorative way, but in the most affirmative: people think by using images of nature which are “intelligible to all ages of the world” and thus “withdraw from the conventions of their own day.” In Emerson, those poetic elements are connected with his discovery of natural science, his fascination with the wisdom literatures of the ancient world, and his insistence on what he would call “the strong present tense.” He wanted his readers to cultivate an understanding of Nature that was prospective, not retrospective. In that light, his work from 1836 challenges us to read Emerson with today’s global concerns.

Our reading group has tried to find some ways for Japanese students to read Emerson’s essays with interest and to appreciate them as pioneer works for American literature. Sarah Wider, former President of the Emerson Society and author of the book, The Critical Reception of Emerson: Unsettling All Things (2000), took interest in our attempt to focus on Emerson’s poetry to make Emerson’s prose more readable and intelligible. As the title of her book shows, she has been interested in the many ways people read and have read Emerson. We are happy to have this opportunity to share our experiences of reading Emerson with a wider audience, featuring Professor Wider’s long experience as a scholar and teacher.

We have found that Emerson’s poems could be a good introduction to his essays as he himself placed his own poem as a motto before an essay. Oda Atsuko will show that though Nature still retains the “conventions” of Christianity, the view of nature Emerson revealed in his poems written at about the same time are freer from them and that Emerson’ poems can function as a glossary to his essay and illustrate the significance of Emersonian ideas such as “the secularity of nature” and “genius.” Fujita Yoshiko will give a talk based on her experience of teaching Nature at Nara Women’s University, about the problems students face and some strategies for defining Nature for them, disentangling Emerson’s complicated narrative style and following his theme. She offers further suggestions about teaching Emerson. Takeda Masako will report her visit to Professor Wider’s class on Emerson. She noticed their different responses to Emerson from the Japanese students’. She will point to both locality and universality of Emerson and find Emerson as a contemporary to today’s students.

Drawing upon Emerson’s description of man as “an analogist who studies relations,” Sarah Wider will continue the conversation by discussing Emerson’s challenge for each person to “enjoy an original relation to the universe.” How might that phrase be understood in light of Emerson’s own fascination with different kinds of relations: those he called “primary,” “true,” “personal,” “false”? How might that understanding in turn be developed into reading strategies that enable our students to enjoy not only an “original relation” with Emerson’s Nature but also an ethically responsible one with Nature itself? Emerson writes, “it is a fixed point whereby we may measure our departure. As we degenerate, the contrast between us and our house is more evident.” His occasional use of empire-building references seemingly betrays his own relations to that house and exposes the “stranger in nature” that he himself was. Even he falls short by his own standard. What sense do we make of the problematic relation latent in Nature?