Laura Dassow Walls

Laura Dassow Walls

Fellow: Awarded 2010
Field of Study: Biography

Competition: US & Canada

University of South Carolina

Laura Dassow Walls has been thinking about the intersections of literature and science since she was forced to choose between them in college, and she has been drawn to the visual arts as well, pursuing a brief career as a scientific illustrator at her home in Seattle, Washington, before returning to graduate school to take up the question of Henry David Thoreau’s relationship to science. She holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. from Indiana University, and she taught for a number of years at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. Currently she teaches courses in American literature, transatlantic Romanticism, and literature and science at the University of South Carolina, where she holds the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair of American Literature. She has published widely on Emerson, Thoreau, and related authors, including Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science (Wisconsin, 1995), and Emerson’s Life in Science: The Culture of Truth (Cornell, 2003); she has also edited several collections, including Material Faith: Thoreau on Science (1999); More Day to Dawn: Thoreau’s Walden for the Twenty-first Century, with Sandra Harbert Petrulionis (Massachusetts 2007); and with Petrulionis and Joel Myerson, The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism (2010). The Organization of American Historians gave her recent book Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (Chicago 2009) the Merle Curti Award for Best Book in American Intellectual History. Her current projects include West of Walden: Deliberate Reading in a Panarchic World, and the biography of Thoreau for which she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, Writing the Cosmos: The Life of Henry David Thoreau.


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