Frank Lloyd Wright and Ralph Waldo Emerson Transforming the American Mind

An interdisciplinary volume of literary and cultural scholarship that examines the link between two pivotal intellectual and artistic figures.

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It probes the degree to which the transcendentalist author influenced the architect’s campaign against dominant strains of American thought. Inspired by Emerson’s writings on the need to align exterior expression with interior self, Wright believed that architecture was not first and foremost a matter of accommodating spatial needs, but a tool to restore intellectual and artistic freedom, too often lost in the process of modernization.

Ayad Rahmani shows that Emerson’s writings provide an avenue for interpreting Wright’s complex approach to country and architecture. The two thinkers cohered around a common concern for a nation derailed by nefarious forces that jeopardized the country’s original promise. In Emerson’s condemnations of slavery and inequality, Wright found inspiration for seeking redress against the humiliations suffered by the modern worker, be it at the hands of an industrial manager or an office boss. His designs sought to challenge dehumanizing labor practices and open minds to the beauty and science of agriculture and the natural world. Emerson’s example helped Wright develop architecture that aimed less at accommodating a culture of clients and more at raising national historical awareness while also arguing for humane and equitable policies.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Ralph Waldo Emerson presents a new approach to two vital thinkers whose impact on American society remains relevant to this day.

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