Recent PostsView recent blog entries
6 years 4 weeks
Pakwanonzian! Ever since I learned this euphonically holophrastic Wonbanakiak greeting (literally, "You look brand new to me!"), I have held it as a kind of personal motto. As a perpetual seeker of new ideas, inspirations, and relationships, I hope that my curiosity about the past will help my readers strive to become makers of the new as well.
Born with the planet Mercury as my ascendant, I am forever drawn also to the playgrounds of Hermes--magic, myth, and mystery--and to hermetic methods of historical exploration that emphasize the imaginal and poetic dimension of historical inquiry. I want above all for my readers to become compelling and concerned storytellers--of their own lives as well as those of their subjects of historical inquiry. I am keen to make them genuinely puzzled about the tapestry of past, present and future that is continually being woven about them.
I recently completed a biography of Henry David Thoreau which seeks to take him at his word when, on the 1853 American Association for the Advancement of Science questionnaire, he described his occupation as "a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher to boot." I try to apply to Thoreau a method similar to the one he employed to penetrate the natural world. I am also at work on a novel about a contemporary historian who stumbles on apocalyptic secrets while he is doing research about the Champlain Tercentenary celebration of 1909.Each semester I teach about 150 students in a course called "Modern Global History, 1500 to the Present." I conduct the course as a 21st century Grail Quest, where we encounter the Grail through stories, song, dance, discussion, and offbeat and unexpected adventures.
Ph.D. 1995, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey (American History/Environmental History); M.A. 1984, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT (Geography); B.A. 1979, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA (Biology/Natural History)
History of Western Esotericism; History of Consciousness; History of Natural History; New England Environmental History
Lewis Creek Lost and Found (University Press of New England: 2001)
Across the Great Border Fault: The Naturalist Myth in America (Rutgers University Press: 2000)
Bright Colors Falsely Seen: Synaesthesia and the Search for Transcendental Knowledge (Yale University Press: 1998)
Traces on the Appalachians: A Natural History of Serpentine in Eastern North America (Rutgers University Press: 1988)