Speaking a word for nature: Science and poetry in the rhetoric of thoreau's transcendental ecology Academic Article uri icon


  • One of Henry David Thoreau's great accomplishments was to develop a form of rhetoric that combined elements of both transcendentalism and empiricism for the purpose of bridging the divide between mind and body, culture and nature, and poetry and science. Content neither with eulogizing Spirit nor categorizing Nature, Thoreau saw science as a poetic art whose function was to reveal the ways in which the human spirit is an interconnected part of the natural environment. Initially a follower of Emerson who saw in Nature evidence of the romantic sublime, Thoreau eventually came to value natural inquiry for its aesthetic and pragmatic consequences. The focus on his essay, however, is how this attitude also produced rhetorical consequences. Specifically, I show how Thoreau developed what I call the rhetoric of Transcendental Ecology that employs the language of science and poetry to make possible the anticipation of beauty so that the audience recognizes, values, and preserves their vital connection with Nature. Copyright 2008 American Communication Journal. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • American Communication Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Crick, N.

complete list of authors

  • Crick, N

publication date

  • July 2008