Poetic Environmental Activism: Education in Thoreau and Shepherd

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


Activism is all around us, and for many causes, has never been more needed. Perhaps this is particularly true of environmental activism as we face the stark reality of the global crises affecting our natural world, and come to increasingly experience the climate emergency. Amid the cacophony of activists’ voices on the environment, we offer a perspective on a quieter – and yet no less profound and important – form of activism that we find in the literary works of the 19th century American philosopher and essayist, Henry David Thoreau, and the 20th century Scottish modernist novelist and poet, Anna [Nan] Shepherd. In this new volume which systematically brings together the work of these writers for the first time, we propose that their work constitutes a form of poetic environmental activism. Through lives spent in nature (walking the forests around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, and in the Cairngorm Mountains in Scotland), both writers document the natural world in its beauty, complexity, and richness. This poetic documentation, characterised by advocating, and accounting for, the world around them, calls our attention back to the natural world on which we so rely, but from which we have become increasingly disconnected. Poetic environmental activism is a different form of rallying call: one that is replete with rich possibilities for education. It calls for our learning care-ful attitudes towards our environment; it re-engages and re-connects us with the urgency of action needed in response to changes to our natural world, and it offers a new way of reading Thoreau and Shepherd’s work as exemplary texts for our time.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Aug 2023

Publication series

NameLiterature and Education


  • Environment
  • Education
  • Literature
  • Nan Shepherd
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Poetic
  • Activism


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