Call for Papers Due

Monday, November 1, 2021 (All day)
The Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Centre, Reykholt, Iceland


Call for Papers: “Thoreau & the Nick of Time”


A Thoreau Symposium will be held at The Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Centre, Reykholt, Iceland, on May 25- 27 (Wed-Fri), 2022, with voluntary joint excursions to follow on May 28-29 (Sat-Sun). In case rescheduling is necessary due to COVID-19, designated backup dates, likely during the fall of 2022, will be announced.


Plenary: Laura Dassow Walls, William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English, University of Notre Dame, plus several invited session speakers.


Organizers: Bergur Thorgeirsson (Executive Director, Snorrastofa), Henrik Otterberg (Thoreau Society, Sweden), Deborah Medenbach (Thoreau Society, USA), Michael Frederick (Executive Director, Thoreau Society, USA).


Theme: Thoreau grappled with new scientific concepts of time that opened immense chronologies and revealed a vastly more senescent Earth than earlier known or thought possible. The relatively contained and traditional Biblical narrative of a few millennia of history was no longer tenable. Thoreau himself lamented the loss of simpler times of mythological clarity and cyclical revolution, while remaining clear-eyed about his rapidly changing present. Today we embrace the concept of “deep time” as regards the age of our universe and planet, but increasingly worry about an imminent and self-created environmental catastrophe. Once again, we feel our worldly time to be short, the responsibility fundamentally our own. How are we to find a sustainable way forward, and may Thoreau help us to it?


Presentation topics could touch on: science (how did the natural sciences of Thoreau’s day, such as geology and zoology, open up and challenge traditionally and theologically received notions of time?); aesthetics (how did Thoreau deal with and portray time in his own thought and writings?); history (is it linear, circular, staggered, or perhaps just chaotic? what did Thoreau himself make of it?); furthermore politics (which timeframes are relevant to making informed, ethical decisions? a single human life or career, or perhaps something larger, of longer duration? can time frameworks from non-Western or indigenous cultures provide clues or answers?); and finally reception (has Thoreau’s time come or gone, in terms of his relevance to us?)


Please submit your abstracts/session proposals (maximum 500 words), by November 1, 2021, to Henrik Otterberg at