Henry David Thoreau spent his life as an intellectual vagrant, jumping fences, pushing boundaries, and crossing borders. How, why, and to what end are the questions asked by contributors to this new volume of essays, whose work crosses national and disciplinary borders to think about Thoreau anew.
Deliberately invoking Thoreau's commitment to "living a border life," a life located between the world of nature and that of the polis, these varied essays explore the writer's thinking and writing as situated not merely against, but across and beyond borders and boundaries – whether geographic, temporal, or spiritual. Arguing that literary texts are governed by mediation and dialogue, lines of force becoming lines of connection that entail complex patterns and interweavings, the contributors draw on methodologies that freely combine literary and philosophical approaches with cultural and political ones – in turn moving us beyond borders.
Contributors include the volume editors as well as Kristen Case, Danielle Follett, Rochelle Johnson, John J. Kucich, Daniel S. Malachuk, Henrik Otterberg, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, Benjamin Pickford, David M. Robinson, Christa Holm Vogelius, and Michael C. Weisenburg.
François Specq is professor of American literature and culture at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France. Laura Dassow Walls is the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. Julien Nègre is associate professor of American literature and culture at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France.
"This volume is superbly conceived, and its essays are original, well thought out and diligently researched, and executed in a manner that will assuredly make a difference in the ways scholars of American transcendentalism read, understand, and appreciate Thoreau's unique and lasting contributions to the movement."
– Ronald A. Bosco, general editor of The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Rather than the caricature of the cranky, navel-gazing, elite wilderness warrior who loved trees more than people, this volume shows, with incredible fidelity, how nuanced, complicated, and compassionate Thoreau was – and how vital he remains."
– Daegen Miller, author of This Radical Land: A Natural History of American Dissent