National Endowment for the Humanities Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop for Teachers

Living and Writing Deliberately:

The Concord Landscapes and Legacy of Henry Thoreau


Faculty and Staff

(We have asked each member to send a picture of his/her own “Walden” – these will be appearing soon!)


      Project Director Jayne Gordon served in that role for three NEH Landmarks workshops At the Crossroads of Revolution: Lexington and Concord in 1775 when she was Director of Education and Public Programs for the Massachusetts Historical Society. A resident of Concord, she regularly teaches and lectures about aspects of the town's history, drawing on her experience working with all of Concord's historical organizations. Jayne was Executive Director of both the Thoreau Society and the Alcotts' Orchard House, and Director of Education and Interpretation at the Concord Museum and the Thoreau Institute/Walden Woods Project.

      Project Coordinator Leah Walczak, the Concord Museum’s Director of Education and Public Programs, oversees public programs, interpretation, school programs, group tours, and visitor services there. Her previous positions include Director of Education at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and Museum Operations Manager at Historic New England. Leah was involved as a key site partner with previous At the Crossroads of Revolution Landmarks workshops held in Concord, and she has overseen the creation of many professional development opportunities for educators.

Scholars and Site Specialists (in order of appearance) reflect the interdisciplinary nature of this workshop:

      Dr. Laura Dassow Walls is the William P. and Hazel B. White Professor of English in the Graduate Program in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame. Laura is widely recognized as a leading scholar of Thoreau and American Transcendentalism. Her much-anticipated biography, Writing the Cosmos: A Life of Henry David Thoreau, for which she received both NEH and Guggenheim fellowships, will be published in 2017. Her previous books include Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science and The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism (co-editor).

      David Wood, Curator of the Concord Museum, and co-curator of the 2017 exhibit ‘This Ever New Self’: Thoreau and his Journal, is a specialist in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American history and material culture, with a particular focus on the inhabitants of Concord. He is the author of numerous scholarly books and articles, including An Observant Eye: The Thoreau Collection at the Concord Museum, and the forthcoming article “Getting a Living,” an essay about Thoreau’s journal.

      Dr. Robert Gross is the Draper Professor of Early American History, Emeritus at the University of Connecticut. His book on the American Revolution, The Minutemen and Their World, won the Bancroft Prize in American History. Dr. Gross has researched and written extensively about nineteenth century Concord, with articles on many aspects of Thoreau’s relationship with his town. He is completing for publication The Transcendentalists and Their World, a social and cultural history of Emerson and Thoreau and the Concord community in which they lived and wrote.

      Dr. Robert Thorson, Professor of Geology in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Connecticut, is also a core faculty member in the Center for Integrated Geoscience and a faculty affiliate in the American Studies Program. His most recent publication, Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science is a wonderful source for those interested in the creation story of Walden Pond, Thoreau's expertise in physical science, and the link between these topics and his masterpiece Walden.

      Jeffrey Cramer is the Curator of Collections for the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, overseeing the most comprehensive collection of resources for the study of Henry Thoreau in the world. He is one of the leading experts on the text and context of Thoreau’s writings. Jeff is the editor of Walden: A Fully Annotated Edition, as well as The Portable Emerson, The Portable Thoreau, The Quotable Thoreau and annotated editions of Thoreau’s essays, Thoreau’s journals, and The Maine Woods. He regularly provides support to researchers on Thoreau and his contemporary relevance to human rights and environmental issues.

      Whitney Retallic is the Director of Education at the Thoreau Institute, having spent twelve years in higher education teaching and facilitating leadership and service learning programs for middle, high school, and college students. She runs a highly successful summer program called Approaching Walden for teachers.

      Dr. James Finley is one of the new Thoreau scholars, with a professorship at Texas A&M University - San Antonio, and many articles to his credit. He was also a high school teacher. James is currently working on a project aimed for a wide audience: an edited collection on Henry David Thoreau, part of the Authors in Context series from Cambridge University Press. The scholars and essays included in this edition will examine Thoreau in geographical, intellectual, literary, cultural, political, scientific, and environmental contexts.

      Christine Nelson is the Morgan Library’s Drue Heinz Curator of Library and Historical Manuscripts, with over twenty-five years of experience organizing humanities-themed exhibitions. She is the Project Director and co-curator of This Ever New Self: Thoreau and his Journal with David Wood. Her colleague Maria Trope-Podell is the Manager of Gallery Programs. They will be the hosts and leaders for the Wednesday sessions.

       Kristi Martin is a doctoral candidate in American and New England Studies at Boston University, where she also earned her Museum Studies Certificate. Her dissertation will explore the origins and development of preservation and tourism in historic Concord. Kristi is a licensed Town Guide in Concord, as well as an historical interpreter at The Old Manse, Emerson House, the Wayside unit of Minute Man National Historical Park, Thoreau’s Birthplace, and the Alcotts’ Orchard House.

      Dr. Sandra Harbert Petrulionis is Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at Pennsylvania State University, Altoona. She is the author of To Set This World Right: The Antislavery Movement in Thoreau’s Concord, the editor of Thoreau In His Own Time; and with Laura Dassow Walls, the co-editor of More Day to Dawn: Thoreau’s Walden for the Twenty-First Century. Sandy is also the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism. She has also directed two-week NEH summer institutes in Concord on Transcendentalism and Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller for college teachers.

      Leslie Wilson is Curator of the William Munroe Special Collections at the Concord Free Public Library. She is the author of In History’s Embrace: Past and Present in Concord, Massachusetts, co-author of Historic Concord, and writer of numerous articles for a variety of publications, including the (beloved by students) CliffNotes Thoreau, Emerson, and Transcendentalism.

      Stephen Collins is an actor, playwright, and teacher who is currently performing eight highly-acclaimed one-man shows, including Unlaunch’d Voices: An Evening with Walt Whitman. A Search for Justice is his newest piece. He aims to convey the relationships and responses of his characters to their times, to set the context for a dramatic experience and ensuing discussion.

The other site specialists include staff members of the following organizations: the Old Manse, the Robbins House, Minute Man National Historical Park, Walden Pond State Reservation, the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, as well as the Thoreau Society and Thoreau Farm (Birthplace).

Teacher-facilitators:
Week one (commuter week): Johanna Glazer, a Concord resident, taught for many years at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School before joining the faculty of the Rivers and Revolutions program, an experiential program for students of all academic abilities at the school. The program uses the community and landscapes of Concord to explore interdisciplinary topics through the lenses of literature, math, science, and history. Henry Thoreau is a key focus of this program, both because of his ideas and his approach to education. Johanna will share methods she has used successfully with students indoors and outdoors.

Week two (residential week): Jim Rittenhouse has taught social studies at all grade levels in Colorado, in both rural and urban school districts. His interest in the Concord authors was sparked by his participation, back in the 1990’s, in a five-week regional seminar funded by NEH for Colorado teachers on the New England Renaissance, in Colorado and various Massachusetts locations, including Concord. He returned to Concord in 2015 as a participant in the NEH Crossroads of Revolution workshop.


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