A friend and associate of the Transcendentalists in Concord, Nathaniel Hawthorne has rarely been taken seriously as a writer interested in the natural world. This book seeks to redress this omission by elucidating the sense of environmentality that emanates from Hawthorne's romances and other writings. Hawthorne's sense of kinship with the natural world runs deep in his work, particularly when his fiction is examined alongside his voluminous notebooks. Rethinking Nathaniel Hawthorne and Nature also contributes to the growing scholarly work aiming to illuminate Hawthorne as a writer deeply engaged in the issues of his day, particularly involving the environment, rather than an author simply interested in reinterpreting colonial history. Today's readers stand to gain a rich new understanding of Hawthorne by reassessing Hawthorne's attitude toward the natural world.
Introduction: The Nature of Hawthorne’s Pastoral Romances
Chapter One. Investigating Hawthorne’s Nonfiction Nature Writing
Chapter Two. Observing “the Laboratory of Nature” in Hawthorne’s Short Fiction
Chapter Three. Reading Nature and the Human Body in The Scarlet Letter
Chapter Four. Mapping Blood and Biology in The House of the Seven Gables
Chapter Five. Et in Arcadia Ego: Adaptation and Natural Limits in The Blithedale Romance
Chapter Six. Exploring the Ruins of the Human Animal in The Marble Faun
Chapter Seven. Postscript: Hawthorne’s Unfinished Romances
About the Author
Steven Petersheim is an associate professor of American literature at Indiana University East and coeditor of Writing the Environment in Nineteenth-Century American Literature: The Ecological Awareness of Early Scribes of Nature.
"A much-needed and outstanding study of Hawthorne's preoccupation with Nature, a neglected theme in Hawthorne studies. Steven Petersheim offers a comprehensive view of Hawthorne's relationship to nature in his journals, correspondence, short fiction, travel sketches, and novels. With great verve, Petersheim describes Hawthorne's ongoing fascination with nature from his college days onwards through his travels to Europe and shows unwitting similarities but ofttimes ruptures with his Transcendentalist neighbors in Concord in their assessment of nature. An indispensable resource for scholars and students of nineteenth-century American literature and environmental studies."
– Monika Elbert, Professor of English, Montclair State University
"Rethinking Nathaniel Hawthorne and Nature is a very welcome and long-needed contribution to ecocriticism and nineteenth-century American literary studies, unsettling the common (mis)conception of Hawthorne as the isolated writer and revealing him instead as a man deeply engaged with the natural world around him. In this first book-length ecocritical study of Hawthorne's work, Petersheim brings insightful and wide-ranging analyses to the breadth of Hawthorne's career, including not just the well-known stories and popular romances, but also his nonfiction writings, including his personal notebooks, and the unfinished late romances. Petersheim does an excellent job situating Hawthorne's writing in its historical contexts, all the while bringing a fresh theoretical eye to many of these much studied works."
– Tom J. Hillard, Boise State University