Robert Thorson is Professor of Geology at the University of Connecticut where he juggles teaching, research, mentoring, and committee work. Though he shares a joint appointment in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Anthropology, his main teaching responsibilities are for the Center for Integrative Geosciences, and the Honors Core Curriculum, where he teaches AMST 1700 (Walden and the American Landscape) with history colleague Christopher Clark, and GSCI 1055 (Geoscience and the American Landscape) to beginning geology students with an interest in history and literature.
His latest book — The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years (Harvard, 2017) — celebrates the Bicentennial of Thoreau’s birth. It will be published in April 2017. This is the second book in a two-part re-assessment of Thoreau’s literary legacy as written from the point of view of a card-carrying physical scientist. The first book, Walden’s Shore: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Science (Harvard, 2014) received strong reviews from the American studies community. The journal Transatlantica, for example, concludes that “Walden’s Shore…. makes a persuasive case for Thoreau as a physical scientist….[and]… shows what a scientific eco-, or rather geocriticism looks like.” These two books, when combined his his previous four, involve “cultural geology,” his discipline’s contribution to American Studies and Environmental Studies. For the last fourteen years he’s also been a regular opinion columnist for The Hartford Courant, where he has been weighing in on environmental and educational policy. Finally, he coordinates the Stone Wall Initiative for the Connecticut State Museum of Natural History.
A native Midwesterner with Scandinavian-American sodbuster roots, he moved to New England from Alaska in 1984. Away from work, he’s a father, son, husband, and solitary soul whose principal hobbies involve Nature, reading, cooking and public television.