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From Walden Pond to Woodstock: The Transcendentalist Roots of the 1960s Counterculture

Evening Program

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 - 6:45 p.m.
Code: 1A0088

The counterculture of the 1960s grew out of multiple sources, including a rejection of the conformity of the previous decade and the emergence of a new cultural ethos of freedom, intuition, and expressive individualism. Trading materialism and the normative conventions of the American Dream for a new religious consciousness, authenticity, and social reform, hippies celebrated love and peace and embraced the chemical ecstasy of the “tuned-in, turned-on, and dropped-out” lifestyle.  

The decade also saw the re-emergence of American nature mysticism, experimentation in utopian-like communal living, and interest in an array of esoteric Eastern   philosophies, psychologies, and religious traditions.

While many of the countercultural dynamics of the 1960s were original, other aspects had roots in the 19th century, notably within the intellectual landscape of New England transcendentalism. Bill Dinges, a professor of religion and culture at Catholic University, explores this notable American intellectual movement, and how it inspired the activism, literature, and religion of the 1960s and beyond.

S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)