Writing the Land: John Burroughs and His Legacy; Essays from the John Burroughs Nature Writing Conference

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At the time of his death in 1921, John Burroughs (1837-1921) was America's most beloved nature writer, a best-selling author whose friends and admirers included Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. Burroughs was second only to Emerson in fostering the nature study movement of the nineteenth- century, and the popularity of his work inspired Houghton Mifflin to publish or reissue the work of numerous other nature writers, including that of Thoreau and Muir. His first ...
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Overview

At the time of his death in 1921, John Burroughs (1837-1921) was America's most beloved nature writer, a best-selling author whose friends and admirers included Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. Burroughs was second only to Emerson in fostering the nature study movement of the nineteenth- century, and the popularity of his work inspired Houghton Mifflin to publish or reissue the work of numerous other nature writers, including that of Thoreau and Muir. His first collection of essays, Wake-Robin, was published in 1871, and over the next fifty years Burroughs wrote almost two dozen books, and hundreds of essays-not only on nature, but on literature, travel, philosophy, religion, and science. By the turn of the century, Burroughs was America's most beloved nature writer, whose friends and admirers included Walt Whitman, Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. Burroughs died in 1921 while on a train ride back to his New York from California. His final words-Are we home yet?-were a remarkably fitting coda to the career of a writer so closely identified with his native Catskill region of New York State. In many of his essays, Burroughs explores the woods and fields of home, and in doing so, like Henry Thoreau and his explorations of Concord, Massachusetts, he transcends the local and examines the universal theme of our relation with nature and our native landscape. Burroughs's emphasis on place and the local now seems modern once again; as the current interest in bioregionalism and climate change demonstrates, it has become increasingly evident that thinking locally is thinking globally. Since 1992, the SUNY College at Oneonta has hosted the biannual John Burroughs Nature Conference and Seminar ('Sharp Eyes'), which honors the influence of Burroughs on American nature writing. Distinguished keynote speakers who have addressed the conference include John Elder, John Tallmadge, Joy Harjo, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Edward Kanze, James Perrin Warren, and Edward J. Renehan, Jr. The scope of the conference is not limited solely to Burroughs, however, as each year the writers and scholars in attendance direct their attention toward a particular issue of significance to contemporary nature writers and scholars of environmental literature. The theme of this collection, Writing the Land: John Burroughs and his Legacy was featured in the 2006 conference, and includes essays on John Burroughs as well as essays on the work of other writers who, like Burroughs, are linked closely through their work to a particular landscape or region. The third and final section of this book features invited essays by three distinguished scholars, John Tallmadge, Robert Beuka, and Charlotte Zoe Walker, who consider the topic of what writing about the land and nature means from three different perspectives-urban, suburban, and rural.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781847184870
  • Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 265
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.61 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Daniel G. Payne is the author of Voices in the Wilderness: American Nature Writing and Environmental Politics (1996), and co-editor of The Palgrave Environmental Reader (2005). He is an associate professor of English at SUNY College at Oneonta, where he directed the 2004 and 2006 Sharp Eyes conferences on John Burroughs and Nature Writing. His current project is a biography of American nature writer Henry Beston.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations x

Acknowledgements xi

Introduction xiii

Part I John Burroughs and his Legacy

1 An Island in a Sea of Ice: An Autumn Vista Robert J. Titus 2

2 John Burroughs and the Anti-Rent War Roger Hecht 7

3 John Burroughs and Henry Thoreau: Traveling Widely at Home Edward J. Renehan, Jr 14

4 The Insolence of Social Power: Bovine Nonchalance, Gentle Suggestion or What? Jeff Walker 23

5 John Burroughs's Transpersonal Identity with Place Stephen A. Mercier 34

6 Emerson's Natural Theology: John Burroughs and the "Church" of Latter Day Transcendentalism Daniel G. Payne 44

7 Burroughs Country: The Catskills Then and Now Tom Alworth 63

Part II Writing the Land

8 Treaties and the Ecological Perspective of William Bartram and John Burroughs Ian Stapley 70

9 The Use of Metaphor and Metonymy in Susan Fenimore Cooper's Rural Hours: A Structural Analysis Nancy Metzger 83

10 Reworking Nature Writing: Celia Thaxter's Among the Isles of Shoals Michael Buckley 98

11 Buying the Farm: Jewett's "A White Heron" and Nature as Commodity Robert A. Beuka 112

12 Nessmuk's Log of the Bucktail: "The Effect of This Constant Depletion of Green Timber" T.P. Murphy 121

13 Libby Beaman: Creating a Role for Herself as Naturalist in the Pribilof Islands Wendy Weaver 130

14 An Oblique Prophecy: A Re-Examination of Liberty Hyde Bailey's The Holy Earth Richard Hunt 140

15 Phases of Farm Life and Senses of Place: Environmental Ethics as Home Economics in John Burroughs and Willa Cather Christine Nadir 148

16 Place, Belonging, and Environmental Humility: The Experience of "Teched" as Portrayed by American Novelist and AgrarianReformer Louis Bromfield David Seamon 158

Part III Writing About Nature: Urban, Suburban, and Rural Perspectives

17 John Burroughs's Contrarian Path John Tallmadge 176

18 Our Big Backyard: Nature in Suburban Writing Robert Beuka 186

19 Rural to the Last Drop: Writing Rural Land from John Burroughs to Ourselves Charlotte Zoe Walker 197

List of Contributors 238

Index 242

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