AMST 1700: Honors Core: American Landscapes – Walden and the American Landscape

Political change?  Sustainability? Literature?  Environment?  Immigration?  Social media?  Race? If these are your issues, then Henry David Thoreau’s prophetic Walden is a book for you.

Published in 1854, Walden; or Life in the Woods is a literary classic, arguably America’s greatest work of literary non-fiction. It’s a manifesto for living your life deliberately and a recipe for finding your place in Nature. Its namesake pond, Walden, quickly became an important icon for the environmental movement.

The first half of the course prepares us to read Walden. On our first field trip we’ll circle Walden Pond and visit other historic sites in Concord, MA. Our other local field trips will explore UConn’s natural history collections, an archive of rare books, and a nature sanctuary. Our lectures will integrate subjects normally taught separately –history, geology, literature, art, religion, science.  The second half of the course is devoted to reading Walden in bite-sized chunks, and then discussing how Thoreau’s intellectually radical ideas help ground and frame modern political and social issues.

Lectures and field trips are taught by both professors. For discussions you will be placed in a section, with the same professor all semester. There are no exams.

By the end of the course you will understand yourself more clearly, and within the context of Nature and society.

Trouble registering? This class is defined in the catalog as open to freshmen and sophomores in the Honors Program. If you are an Honors student who will have 54 or more credits when this course is offered, you may register by emailing and including (1) your name; (2) your 7-digit Student Admin number; (3) your registration “pick time”; (4) the course number and section (AMST 1700-001); (5) the class number from Student Admin; and (6) confirmation that there are seats available in the course.