Frank Lloyd Wright and Ralph Waldo Emerson
Transforming the American Mind
352 Pages / 6.12 x 9.25 x 1.19 in / 38 halftones
- Hardcover /
- 9780807179802 /
- Published: September 2023
- eBook /
- 9780807180938 /
- Published: September 2023
Frank Lloyd Wright and Ralph Waldo Emerson: Transforming the American Mind is an interdisciplinary volume of literary and cultural scholarship that examines the link between two pivotal intellectual and artistic figures. 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.
“Part intellectual biography and part history of American architecture, Ayad Rahmani’s book is a rich and engaging exploration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s philosophical scaffolding. Rahmani demonstrates, in particular, the centrality of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s contributions to Wright’s worldview and his architectural theories and craft. An authoritative and beautifully written study.” ~Scott Slovic, coeditor of Ecocritical Aesthetics: Language, Beauty, and the Environment
“Frank Lloyd Wright was an important interdisciplinary thinker as well as a great architect, publishing close to twenty books. Ayad Rahmani, also an architect and interdisciplinary thinker, offers an invigorating and original interpretation of Wright in the context of his Emersonian roots. Rahmani includes provocative comments on Wright in relation to modern technology, the atomic age, critical theory, and much more. Rahmani’s interdisciplinary approach enables us to contextualize Wright in relation to the history of ideas and the modern critical analysis of culture at large.” ~David Michael Hertz, author of Angels of Reality: Emersonian Unfoldings in Wright, Stevens, and Ives
“By exploring Wright and Emerson at the intersection of their thoughts and creations, Rahmani substantially deepens our intellectual understanding of both men with an abundance of interconnected, fresh insights.” ~Jack Quinan, author of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo Venture: From the Larkin Building to Broadacre City