Transcending Boundaries: The Network Concept in Nineteenth-Century American Philosophy and Literature

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


The network is a figure of thought that began to emerge as a concrete physical formation and as a conceptual model long before the digital revolution. Following recent scholarship on historical network epistemology, this essay traces such network thinking in nineteenth-century US philosophical and literary discourses with an emphasis on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s transcendentalist philosophy and Walt Whitman’s poetry. Features associated with networks, such as relationality, reciprocal interaction, decentralized self-organization, and emergent properties significantly shaped US thought and played a crucial part in national, cultural, and political processes of self-reflection and -identification in the early days of the American Republic. Demonstrating how network epistemology has informed and in turn been generated by US literature and philosophy of the nineteenth century, Schober examines the network not only as a universal model, but also as a historically contingent conceptual model. The specifically Romantic concept of the network that comes to the fore in the texts under scrutiny responds to an increased impact of concrete technological network structures, while reflecting and affecting particular notions of (spiritual) interconnectivity, community, and national unity. In Emerson’s and Whitman’s writing in particular, conceptions of the network serve to integrate the Romantic quest for unity within an optimistic vision of an original US identity, establishing the network as a key figure for future self-reflection and -definition at a time particularly shaped by cultural renewal and social reform. The network, as combining both concrete, material reality and epistemological, theoretical discourses, thus represents a central image in the project of (re)defining personal and national identity in the early Republic.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

The reflection of practices particular to network society is seen in the field of education in a variety of ways; thus educational praxis needs further exploration on conceptual framework. Notwithstanding the lack of a framework that disclosing a fuller understanding of the concept, network in education is widely adopt ed. Against this background, this paper seeks to contribute to exploring a widely used but conceptually unexplored context of learning as network in education. For this purpose, topic modelling, an unsupervised machine learning approach, was used to reveal hidden or abstract topics in large text collections. The topics emerging as a result of data analysis on 6307 documents were thematically organised. The emergent topics could be interpreted around three axes: 1 - ) use of network as a research method such a s social network analysis, 2 - ) solidarity happens in HIV network 3 - ) relationships or roles emerging in the network such as leadership, friendship and family. Accordingly, learning occurring in networks tends to be stimulated by the values such as solidari ty or inherited properties such as social capital. To understand this, new methodologies such as social network analysis becomes important. As for historical change of use of network in education in time, in line with the increase in the number of studies using a network perspective in the field of education, the number of publications in sub - fields has also increased. The increase in studies on teacher and PhD education can be explained by the prevailing use of learning communities as a networked learning approach.
Full-text available
Introduction . The paper aims at describing the philosophy of transcendentalism as viewed by 19th century American philosopher Ralph Emerson, one of its founders and, above all, the direct application of this framework to the contemporary view of network concepts introduced as a state-of the art paradigm of cultural and social development, often viewed as directly applicable to the study of social processes as well as literary texts. Methodology and sources . The chosen methodology includes the structural semantic study of Emerson’s texts and the analysis of the view of contemporary philosophers of the language and literary critics on the network concept as a basis for state of the art social schemes and internet-communication principles, as well as literary texts analysis. Results and discussion . The results of the research allow to hypothesize that the philosophy of transcendentalism which attempted to give a full-fledged representation of a harmonious and dynamic cosmic principle, seeing ways of moral purification and comprehension of the super-soul has similar principles with the works by outstanding poststructuralist or postmodern philosophers (like G. Deleuze) and is directly applicable to the study of contemporary literary texts if not social processes. These concepts allow to see the development of aesthetic paradigm (a vivid example being the development of the transcendental motive in poetry). One of the possible examples could be seen in the development of poetic paradigm with а) early romantic poetry concentrating on the poet’s emotions, thus rendering the transcendental, with b) modernist writing which used language as a medium, when a poem became a means of expressing the transcendental, with c) poetry combining political views and the transcendental experience, with d) post-colonial poetry, with the transcendental being transferred from the sphere of “eternal” to the sphere of “everyday”. Conclusion . American transcendentalism allows to see common patterns of development and innovation of cultural, literary, philosophical scene, characteristic of the contemporary aesthetic paradigm.
Romantic Organicism attempts to reassess the much maligned and misunderstood notion of organic unity. Following organicism from its crucial radicalisation in German Idealism, it shows how both Coleridge and Wordsworth developed some of their most profound ideas and poetry on its basis. Armstrong shows how the tenets and ideals of organicism - despite much criticism - remain an insistent, if ambivalent, backdrop for much of our current thought, including the work of Derrida amongst others.
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
The Country We Believe In: Improving America’s Fiscal Policy
  • Obama Barack
“Globalisierung, Mondialisierung und die Poetik des Globalen” (“Globalization, Mondialization, and the Poetics of the Global”)
  • Reichardt
Work and Net-Work: Reflections on a Global Metaphor
  • Schaefer-Wuensche
“Netzwerke. Zur Theorie und Geschichte einer Konstruktion” (“Networks: On the Theory and History of a Construction”)
  • Boehme
Imagined Networks, Global Connections
  • Chun
The Transcendentalists
  • Packer
The Spirit of the Times
  • Bosco
Imaginary Space; or, Space as Aesthetic Object
  • Fluck
Die Verbundenheit der Dinge. Eine Kulturgeschichte der Netze und Netzwerke (The Connectedness of Things: A Cultural History of Nets and Networks)
  • Giessmann