It is increasingly commonplace to find scholars who circle back to Ralph Waldo Emerson and his intellectual heirs as a way of better understanding contemporary social and aesthetic contexts. Why does Emerson's cultural legacy continue to influence writers so forcefully? In this innovative study, Randall Fuller examines the way pivotal twentieth-century critics have understood and deployed Emerson as part of their own larger projects aimed at reconceiving America. He examines previously unpublished material and original research on Van Wyck Brooks, Perry Miller, F.O. Matthiessen, and Sacvan Bercovitch along with other supporting thinkers. An engaging institutional history of American literary studies in the twentieth century, Emerson's Ghosts reveals the unexpected convergent forces that have shaped American cultural history in lasting ways.