Ericksen lecture to explore life and work of Thoreau

William RossiUniversity of Oregon Professor William Rossi will discuss little-known aspects of the life and work of Henry David Thoreau during the upcoming Ericksen lecture at Linfield College.

Rossi will present “Life, Death, Doubleness and Friendship at Walden” on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room at the Linfield College Nicholson Library.

Perhaps no other American writer comes as pre-packaged with a cultural mythology and a set of opinions about him as Thoreau. His retreat to Walden Pond, the resulting book, and his supposedly aloof attitude toward American society continue to be studied and debated today. Based on little-known documents and manuscripts that throw light on his life and writings in the Walden period, this talk will introduce and explore a different Thoreau than the one most modern readers have encountered.

Rossi is professor and director of Undergraduate Studies in English at the University of Oregon, where he has taught since 1989. His current research focuses on Thoreau’s dual vocation as writer and naturalist in the context of mid-19th Century debates about evolution. In addition to Thoreau, Rossi has published essays on Ralph Waldo Emerson, New England transcendentalism and eco-criticism. A Laszlo N. Tauber Family Foundation fellow and past recipient of two Fulbright awards and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Rossi is co-editor of two volumes of Thoreau’s Journal for The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau, published by Princeton University Press; editor of the Norton Critical Edition, Walden, Civil Disobedience, and Other Essays (2008); and co-editor of Figures of Friendship: Emerson and Thoreau (Indiana 2010).

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Ken and Donna Ericksen Endowed English Department Fund. Ericksen, professor emeritus of English at Linfield, created the endowment in memory of his wife, Donna, a Linfield alumna, who taught reading, writing and English in the Hillsboro School District for 25 years. The endowment allows the English Department to bring literary scholars to campus for several days to work with faculty and students.

For more information, contact David Sumner at 503-883-2389, dsumner@linfield.edu.