Thoreau Society panels at the American Literature Association Conference (May 21-24, 2020)

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
James Finley / The Thoreau Society
contact email: 

The Thoreau Society is pleased to sponsor two panels at the upcoming ALA
Conference on May 21-24, 2020 in San Diego (

*Thoreau in the Anthropocene*: While Thoreau is America’s touchstone
prophet of Nature and the wild, he is also one of our earliest and best
witnesses to the many ways the human world entangles and threatens the
environment. What does it mean to read Thoreau from the midst of the
Anthropocene? How does his work differ when we shift from reading him as
the spokesman for the wild to an early activist on behalf of a threatened
planet? How does Thoreau’s writing hold up in the age of Standing Rock,
Global Climate Strike and Extinction Rebellion? What does Thoreau’s model
of civil disobedience connect to activists like Bill McKibben, LaDonna
Brave Bull Allard and Greta Thunberg? Where does Thoreau’s work fit into
the growing movement for environmental and climate justice? How has
Thoreau’s growing understanding of phenology and river hydrology aided our
current understanding of climate change and ecosystem resilience? How might
Thoreau’s reconception of the human and its imbrication in what Laura
Dassow Walls calls the parahuman serve us in the era of mass extinction?
Please submit 300-word proposals for 20-minute presentations by January 15,
2020, to John J. Kucich at

*Thoreau and the Author Society in the 21st Century*: As the oldest
organization devoted to the study of a single author, the Thoreau Society
(founded in 1941) has long wrestled with the role of the author in literary
studies and the broader society. On the 30th anniversary of the founding of
the ALA, this is an apt moment to focus on role of individual authors in
the academy and beyond. How have author societies shaped the research and
careers of scholars? How do author societies respond to, and shape, an
author’s reputation and status in society at large? How does the focus on a
single author shape or obscure our understanding of the social networks and
cultural forces that drive textual production and reception – particularly
the labor of others? How do author societies balance the sometimes
divergent interests of their members – scholars, writers, activists and
enthusiasts? How do scholars balance the interests of an author society
with their own evolving research agendas and the changing priorities in
American literature? This panel welcomes participants working in Thoreau
studies as well as those working in related fields. Please submit 100-200
word proposals for 10-minute presentations by January 15, 2020, to John J.
Kucich at