The Concord Saunterer

The Concord Saunterer, Volume 29 CoverThe Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies is an annual peer-reviewed journal dedicated to scholarship on Henry David Thoreau.

The Saunterer seeks biographical, historical, textual, bibliographical, and interpretive articles relating to Thoreau, his legacy, his associates, the Concord circle of authors, and Transcendentalism more generally.

We also publish creative non-fiction, poetry, photography, and art with a focus on the natural world.

Join the Thoreau Society to receive both the Saunterer and the Thoreau Society Bulletin, a quarterly compendium of short articles, news, and bibliographic information related to Thoreau.

Submissions of all lengths are invited; however, a range of 8,000-10,000 words, including notes and works cited, is preferred. In some cases, shorter pieces will be recommended for submission to the quarterly Thoreau Society Bulletin (TSB) instead.

MS Word is preferred. Contributions should conform to MLA documentation style. See the "Works Cited: A Quick Guide" page at MLA.org. We are committed to best practices with respect to inclusive language. See the "Principles of Inclusive Language" page at MLA.org.

Please send submissions via e-mail as an attachment to the edito, Kathleen Coyne Kelly (Northeastern University) cs@thoreausociety.org.

We strive to report decisions within three months.

We seek historical, biographical, textual, bibliographical, and interpretive articles related to Henry Thoreau and his associates, the Concord circle of authors, and Transcendentalism more generally. Please review our complete submission and publication policies in the most recent issue.

The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies is a member of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals (CELJ) and referenced in American Literary Scholarship, Humanities International Complete, and the MLA Bibliography.  Digital copies of back issues are accessible in libraries that subscribe to JSTOR

Abstracts of Essays

Laundry! / Brent Ranalli

The "Laundry sneer"--finding fault with Thoreau for not doing his own washing--is a relatively recent phenomenon. This article seeks to trace the history of the laundry sneer and to explain why it is misguided. Further, we inquire whether Thoreau might have actually tried to do his own washing on the banks of Walden Pond-some textual evidence suggests that he did-and we reconstruct what it might have been like, and why he would have given it up. Laundry was "the American housekeeper's hardest problem" in Thoreau's day, and it remained so throughout the nineteenth century, despite the best efforts of technologists, entrepreneurs, and social reformers, as well as philosophers. Thoreau probably regretted not figuring out a way to manage clothes-washing for himself. But if spoiled twenty-first century critics want to fault him for it: Let he whose own clothes are washed by hand cast the first stone.

Finding Walden in Emerson's Plato / Mark Gallagher

A previously unknown sketch resembling Thoreau's house at Walden Pond discovered in a volume of Plato's Works once owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson may have been drawn by Henry David Thoreau. The minimalist drawing, not unlike the many thumbnail sketches found in Thoreau's Journal, gives it some insight into both the architectural and philosophical designs of Thoreau's Journal, gives some insight into both the architectural and philosophical designs of Thoreau's Walden experiment. Consideration of the sketch in its context suggests how Thoreau saw himself as a philosopher as modeled on the idea philosopher of Plato's Republic, and, perhaps, offers a new glimpse into the Emerson-Thoreau relationship.

Thoreau's Last Wolves in the Natural History Notebooks / Christopher V. Dolle and Raymond F. Dolle

Thoreau's late notebooks contain three extracts describing wolves, bears, and panthers from Frederick Gerstaecker's Wild Sports in the Far West (1859), John Lawson's A New Voyage to Carolina (1709), and Mayne Reid's The Boy Hunters (1853). These notes give insight into Thoreau's objections to commercial hunting and trapping. The extracts from Gerstaecker, Lawson, and Reid connect to each other and to passages in Walden, The Maine WoodsThoreau's Journal, and several essays. The panther, bear, and wolf can be understood as motifs representing primal nature. Thoreau sees the disappearance of these predators and the loss of the wild as a personal loss and an environmental crisis. Gerstaecker describes how the wolf gnaws off its leg to be free from a trap, and how the bear sucks his paws while hibernating. In the Lawson extract, wolves and bears are seen as commodities, and the wilderness is reduced to cheap nature. Thoreau notes that Reid draws from Lawson on bears, and Thoreau copies the idea that the prairie wolf is the "progenitor" of the Indian dogs. Reid's "barking wolf" is a missing link between wolves and dogs, the wild and the tamed, the savage and civilized.

"Here are the model children!" Revisiting Louisa May Alcott's Representations of Her Parents' Educational Theories / Azelina Flint

This article examines Louisa May Aclott's representations of her parents' educational theories in the "Plumfield" community of Little Men and Jo's Boys. Critical responses to these novels have focused on Alcott's fictionalized portrayals of her father's teaching methods but have failed to note that these methods are underpinned by her mother's educational philosophy. Abigail Alcott opposed her husband's emphasis on moral perfectibility and his endeavors to create "model children." Instead, she tailored her children's learning experiences to their peculiar temperaments and identified herself with their faults. My revisionist reading of Bronson and Abigail Alcott's diverging philosophies is based on their differing interpretations of the educational theories of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. Bronson affiliated himself with the Utopian impulses of Pestalozzi's early work, while Abigail allies herself with Pestalozzi's later interest in child physchology. Louisa May Alcott unties her mother's emphasis on family remain relevant to the econcerns of primary and post-secondary educators today, facilitating productive conversations concerning freedom of expression, disciplinary practice, and community service.

Thoreau, Prometheus and the Universal Discourse of "Civil Disobedience" / Rupendra Guha-Majumdar

A significant act of mythopoesis proffered by Thoreau in New England in the 1840's is that of the Americanization of the Titan Prometheus, who, on behalf of Zeus and paid a heavy price with his protracted incarceration. Thoreau's symbolic gesture of democratic empowerment was enhanced through his translation of Aeschylus's tragedy, Prometheus Bound. During the Civil War the image of Prometheus often features poignantly in the discourse of abolition. Thoreau's act of mythopoesis is contextualized in a global trend of literary and artistic appropriation of the same iconic symbolism that upheld universal rather than totalitarian governance. Thoreau's implicit references to rebels Prometheus and Antigone as truth-sayers bolster his philosophy of radical humanism not only within America but across a world eager to emerge from colonial repression. Yet, it is ironic that in the course of modern American history, the symbolic figure of Prometheus vanishes--within a hundred years of his arrival--at the end of WW-II. The precious fire gained by him to redeem mankind turns into a toxic cloud and the death knell of civilization at the hands of Oppenheimer, the "American Prometheus."

Thoreau's Walden: Epicureanism or Stoicism / Toby J. Svoboda

This paper argues against Pierre Hadot's view that Thoreau in Walden displays Epicurean and Stoic traits in roughly equal proportion. Of the two schools, he is much closer to the latter. However, the similarities between Thoreau and the Stoic are practical or generic. In terms of ethical practices, Thoreau exhibits many of the qualities found in the Stoic school. However, the theoretical discourse used to justify those practices is different in each case. If one is to say that Thoreau is a Stoic, it is not a very profound sense. Thoreau shares with both the Stoics and the Epicureans an interest in what Hadot calls "spiritual exercises" or philosophy as a way of life.

Poetry and Creative Non-Fiction

Sixty Excursions and Thoreau's Journal / James Perrin Warren

Bird Poems / Charles Weld

 

Photography

The Rhizomatic Water Lily (Nymphaea oderata) at Heywood Meadow / Cecelia Musselman

Hannah West, FishbonesConcord Saunterer Highlights:

Kathleen Coyne Kelly, Editors Pages

Kathleen Coyne Kelly, "Thoreau's Flute"

Hannah West, FishbonesAerial View of the Delta; Aerial View of Cracking Ice; Untitled

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Concord Saunterer at the Internet Archive The Thoreau Society, in collaboration with UMass Lowell and the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts, has digitized Saunterer issues dating back to 1966. These issues are now freely accessible as full-text-searchable PDF documents at the Internet Archive
  • Learn more about the history of the Concord Saunterer and other Thoreau-oriented periodicals.
  • Examine the tables of contents and to order back issues of the New Series (1993-2007) of the Concord Saunterer.

The Concord Saunterer: A Journal of Thoreau Studies

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