Rebecca Kneale Gould is associate professor of environmental studies at Middlebury College, where she teaches courses in the environmental humanities. She received her Ph.D. in the study of religion from Harvard University in 1997, and her research and teaching focus on the many compelling ways in which religious and spiritual identity shape and are shaped by our relationships to the natural world (both urban and rural). She is the author of numerous articles and books, and has worked as a board member for the Religion and Ecology group of the American Academy of Religion and currently serves on the boards of Vermont Interfaith Power and Light and The Thoreau Society.
The environmental movement in the United States has been criticized, quite justifiably, for its overwhelming “whiteness”—including the demographics of its leadership, its lack of attention to social and environmental justice, and the racist views of many early conservationists. Where does the life and work of Henry David Thoreau fit into this troubled history? Should we still read, teach and study the work of this “dead white man” today? Gould's argument is that we do a disservice both to Thoreau and to ourselves if we fail to acknowledge the “whiteness” of his thinking and his legacy. At the same time, however, Thoreau’s work calls us to be accountable to our broken world in ways that may ring true now more than ever. In this talk, Gould will offer both scholarly and pedagogical reflections on reading Thoreau with attention to race, leaving ample time for questions and conversation.
This lecture is free and open to the public and is generously sponsored by the Willis D. Wood Fund.