Laura Dassow Walls

Faculty-Walls

Willliam P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English
Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science

Specialty: American Transcendentalism; Literature and Science; Ecocriticism

Degrees: B.A. and M.A., University of Washington; Ph.D., Indiana University

Laura Dassow Walls is the author of the forthcoming Henry David Thoreau: A Life, to be published by the University of Chicago Press in July 2017. She works in the transdisciplinary field of literature and science, with a focus on the nineteenth century and a concentration in American literature centered on American Transcendentalism, particularly Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. She seeks to understand these authors in both transdisciplinary and cosmopolitical contexts, leading to a continuing interest in both British and German writers, philosophers, and scientists. Her most recent book, The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (Chicago 2009), traces the Humboldt network from Germany to the Americas in science, literature, culture, and politics; this book has been awarded the Merle Curti Prize for intellectual history by OAH, the James Russell Lowell Prize for literary studies by MLA, and the Kendrick Prize for literature and science by SLSA. Her earlier books include Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science (Wisconsin 1995), Emerson’s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth (Cornell 2003), and a volume coedited with Joel Myerson and Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism (2010). Her interest in reweaving science, literature, and culture in cosmopolitical contexts is leading her to explore American Transcendentalism more broadly as an intellectual, cultural, social, and environmental reform movement; currently she is planning a volume of ecocritical theory, “West of Walden: Deliberate Reading in a Panarchic World.” Her work has been supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the ACLS, and the William P. and Hazel B. White Foundation.

 

Recent Books:

  • Views of Nature by Alexander von Humboldt, a new translation by Mark W. Person. Co-editor with Stephen Jackson. University of Chicago Press, 2014.
  • Thoreauvian Modernities: Transatlantic Conversations on an American Icon. Co-Editor with François Specq and Michel Granger. University of Georgia Press, 2013.
  • Alexander von Humboldt and the Americas. Co-Editor with Vera Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette. Berlin: Verlag Walter Frey, 2012. 
  • The Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America. University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  • The Oxford Guide to Transcendentalism. Ed. with Joel Myerson and Sandra Harbert Petrulionis. Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies. Editor, 2007-11.
  • More Day to Dawn: Thoreau’s “Walden” for a New Century, with “Afterword.” Co-editor with Sandra Petrulionis. University of Massachusetts Press, 2007.

 

Recent Articles:

  • "'As You Are Brothers of Mine': Thoreau and the Irish." New England Quarterly 88.1 (March 2015): 5-36; republished in Emerson and Thoreau: Dimensions of Two Intertwined Careers, MIT Batch for Kindle, April 2015.
  • "The Cosmopolitan Project of Louisa May Alcott." Toward a Female Genealogy of Transcendentalism, ed. Jana L. Argersinger and Phyllis Cole. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014: 423-445. 
  • “Walking West, Gazing East: Planetarity on the Shores of Cape Cod.” In Thoreauvian Modernities: Transatlantic Conversations on an American Icon. Ed. François Specq, Laura Dassow Walls and Michel Granger. University of Georgia Press, 2013. 21-42.
  • “Humboldt’s Passage to America.” Alexander von Humboldt and the Americas. Co-Editor with Vera Kutzinski and Ottmar Ette. Berlin: Verlag Walter Frey, 2012. 23-50.
  • “Henry David Thoreau: Writing the Cosmos.” The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies. N.S. vol. 19 (2011-12): 1-21.
  • “Articulating a Huckleberry Cosmos: Thoreau’s Moral Ecology of Knowledge.” Thoreau’s Importance for Philosophy, ed. Rich Anthony Furtak and Jonathan Ellsworth. Fordham University Press, 2012. 91-111, 263-65.
  • “Geography, Literature, and the Spaces of Interdisciplinarity.” American Literary History 23.4 (2011): 860-72.
  • “From the Modern to the Ecological: Latour on Walden Pond.” Ecocritical Theory: New European Approaches. Ed. Axel Goodbody and Kate Rigby. University of Virginia Press, 2011: 98-109.
  • “Greening Darwin’s Century: Humboldt, Thoreau, and the Politics of Hope,” in Victorian Review 36.2 (Fall 2010): 92-103.
  • “Of Atoms, Oaks, and Cannibals, or, More Things that Talk” in Isis 101 (September 2010): 590-98.
  • “Beyond Representation: Deliberate Reading in a Panarchic World,” in ebr [electronic book review] “Critical Ecologies” thread, posted 7/29/2009. Peer-reviewed academic journal. http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/criticalecologies/deliberative
  • “Ralph Waldo Emerson and Coleridge’s American Legacy.” Coleridge’s Afterlives, 1834-1934, ed. James Vigus and Jane Wright. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008: 112-27.
  • “Seeking Common Ground: Integrating the Sciences and Humanities.” Coming into Contact: Explorations in Ecocritical Theory and Practice. Ed. Annie Merrill Ingram et al. University of Georgia Press, 2007: 199-208.
  • “‘If Body Can Sing’: Emerson and Victorian Science.” Emerson Bicentennial Essays. Ed. Ronald A. Bosco and Joel Myerson. Massachusetts Historical Society/University of Virginia Press, 2006: 334-366.

 

Major Honors and Awards:

  • NEH Fellowship for 2015 in support of Laura's biography of Henry David Thoreau
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson Society Distinguished Achievement Award, 2012
  • Guggenheim Fellowship, 2010-11
  • James Russell Lowell Prize, Modern Language Association, 2010
  • Merle Curti Award, Organization of American Historians, 2010
  • Michelle Kendrick Memorial Book Prize, Society for Literature, Science and the Arts, 2010
  • Russell Research Award for the Humanities and Social Sciences, University of South Carolina, 2010
  • Visiting Professor, Ecole Normale Superieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Lyon, France, 2009
  • Research Fellowship, Center for Humans and Nature, New York and Chicago, 2007
  • NEH Fellowship, 2001-02
  • ACLS Fellowship, 1995-96

 

Contact Information
330 Decio Faculty Hall
(574-) 631-2573
lwalls@nd.edu

Postal address
Department of English
356 O’Shaughnessy
Notre Dame, IN 46556