English professor publishes biography on Thoreau

first_imgOn the cusp of Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday in July, Laura Dassow Walls released her latest book — “Henry David Thoreau: A Life” — with the intention to rediscover the American icon and bring him to a broader audience.Walls, an English professor at Notre Dame, said she was working on a list for her graduate students in 2010 for “what kinds of work needed to be done in the field.” When it came to the idea for a new biography of Thoreau, however, she said she couldn’t bring herself to add it to the list.“It was like paralysis,” Walls said. “I knew that I was going to write it.”Both Wall’s Ph.D. dissertation and first book were on Thoreau and she said it was this “deep education background” that made writing such an expansive book in seven years possible. “I knew from my previous work that I was not satisfied with the biographies that were out there,” she said. “They didn’t match what I knew was there in the primary writings.”Despite the work she and many of her colleagues have been doing for a number of years, Walls said Thoreau is still incorrectly cast as a “hermit and a misanthrope.” “If you unpack his life [at Walden] and the rest of his life, you realize he was deeply engaged with the people around him,” Walls said. “Even as he steps out of the community to create this separate space for creative work, he still had a lot of responsibilities. That’s just not the story he wanted to tell.” The “character” Thoreau creates for himself in “Walden” does not make him inauthentic, though, Walls said. “When he speaks to people about his ideals, he speaks to them from the depths of his heart and with his most passionately held beliefs,” she said. “That is the voice that rings true. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t find it interesting or compelling. The icon never would have come into existence.” Thoreau’s moment in history contributed to his status as an icon, Walls said. “This is a very difficult time in the United States,” she said. “There was slavery; Thoreau was an abolitionist. Women’s rights were being argued. War with Mexico was being discussed and he was opposed to the war. Native American genocide was ongoing, which infuriated him. “There was a sense that people were justifying and rationalizing that it was OK to do these things and he said ‘it cannot be OK — how can I find a way to understand why it’s not OK? What is the basis, the foundation for my beliefs and moral behavior?” Walls said that, once again, the country is in a difficult time and that engaging with Thoreau can provide a sense of direction.“ … To see how he plays a role in his time is to be reminded that we have agency in this time. We’re not helpless,” she said. “We don’t have to be the victim of forces that are so much bigger than we are. “We can take responsibility for our actions in the world and take seriously what’s become kind of a cliche around here: ‘I want to change the world.’ Thoreau is absolutely serious about that and it’s not a cliche for him.”It’s been only two months since “Henry David Thoreau: A Life” was released, but Walls said she has already received some confirmation that she found the diverse audience she was writing for. “I’m getting emails constantly from all sorts of people, of all walks of life … this is wonderful,” Walls said. “They write me out of the blue to say they read my book and that it touched them. That’s incredibly moving for me — I’ve never experienced that with anything else that I’ve written.”Tags: biography, Henry Thoreau, Laura Walls, Thoreaulast_img read more

Essex beat Bears to edge closer to county title

first_imgESSEX homed in on their first County Championship title for 25 years as they finished off relegation-bound Warwickshire, to win by an innings and 56 runs inside three days at Edgbaston.Chris Silverwood’s side must wait on the result from Taunton, where Lancashire must now beat Somerset, before the silverware is confirmed.Trailing by 161 overnight, on 7-0, the Bears slid to 47-5 before a rain break.Simon Harmer and Jamie Porter did the job to bowl out the hosts for 112.Spinner Harmer took the final wicket to end with eight in the match, while Porter and Sam Cook both claimed three apiece.That leaves Division One’s bottom club Warwickshire also on the brink at the other end of the table. The Bears’ eighth defeat in 12 games this season was their fifth by an innings, two of which have come against Essex.The relegation which has looked on the cards since they began this season with four innings defeats in their first six matches could be confirmed before this week’s round of matches are completed.Essex, who went up as Division Two champions in 2016, would become the second newly-promoted side to win the county title since two divisions were introduced to English cricket in 2000. Nottinghamshire are the only other team to achieve the feat, in 2005.Essex have been told that, should they complete their seventh triumph, the Championship trophy will not be presented until their home game against Yorkshire at Chelmsford, starting on September 25. (BBC Sport)last_img read more

New Generators To Power Emergency Shelters at Brookdale

first_imgThe generators are being funded through the Sandy Hazard Mitigation Grant Program’s Infrastructure Grant and Energy Allocation Initiative.According to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), the project cost for the new generator at Collins Arena is $457,560. The dollar figure for improvements to the Warner Student Life Center is currently being reviewed, though anticipated to be around the same amount.The estimated date of completion for the generator installation is December 2017, said MCSO public information officer Cynthia Scott. With these new generators, county OEM ser vices are anticipating the two buildings at Brookdale will be an integral piece of the Monmouth County Emergency Operations Plan.Scott said Brookdale was chosen as the site because the college “is located outside of any flood zones, the campus is accessible, and the Collins Arena and Student Life Center are capable of holding the largest number of evacuees in one location, thus allowing Monmouth County to maximize its resources.”Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden called Brookdale “an ideal location” for emergency shelters. Other locations are being planned, according to Scott.After Super Storm Sandy slammed the Jersey Shore, Monmouth University was used as the county’s evacuation shelter. Nearly 1,500 people flocked to the university in West Long Branch for relief.The Robert J. Collins Arena is the home court for the Brookdale Jersey Blues, and is also used for high school graduations and other large-scale events. Capacity inside is capped around 2,000 in the 23,000-square-foot event space, according to Brookdale. A four-lane track wraps around the length of the arena, spanning 1/10 of a mile.The Warner Student Life Center, which opened in 2008, is an 81,000-square-foot complex only a few hundred feet away from the arena. It houses the community college’s 335-seat cafeteria, bookstore, numerous large seminar rooms and smaller offices on the bottom floor.Murphy said Brookdale and Monmouth County jointly applied for and received the grant funding for the emergency generators in fiscal year 2015.Throughout Monmouth County, 50 total projects have benefitted from the two Sandy Hazard Mitigation Grants, with $11,457,031 being allocated to energy and infrastructure improvements.On April 13, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously passed a resolution approving a Memorandum of Understanding between the MCSO and Brookdale for the community college to become both an Emergency Evacuation Center and a Community Reception Center.This article was first published in the April 20-27, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times. By Jay Cook | LINCROFT – In the event another major disaster like 2012’s Super Storm Sandy strikes Monmouth County, two buildings on Brookdale Community College’s Lincroft campus will be a refuge for residents.Thanks to federal grants, permanent emergency generators will soon be installed at the Robert J. Collins Arena, and also at the Warner Student Life Center, both on the campus’ southern edge. The college is accessible from Phalanx Road and County Road 520.“In emergency situations, such as we saw after Super Storm Sandy, members of our community often need guidance, support and a safe place to go,” Brookdale president Maureen Murphy said in a statement to The Two River Times. “While we hope we never see a disaster like Sandy again, we are happy to be part of an initiative to provide a safe space for county residents.”last_img read more