Laying out land : land surveying and space configurations in Henry D. Thoreau's "Walden", "A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers", the journal and "Walking"

Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 185 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ronald A. Bosco

Committee Members

Jeffery Berman, Lisa Thompson


antebellum literature, land surveying, literary geographies, Thoreau, Land use in literature

Subject Categories

American Literature


The premise of this dissertation is that one of the main themes of antebellum America which Henry D. Thoreau chronicles, the transformation of land into landscape, is a transformation that is a cause and an effect of different, yet related, cultural, economic, and political trends. Reading Thoreau's experiment in living, farming, and self-discovery at Walden Pond as a response to Transcendentalism's tenets of individual freedom, self-reliance, self-development, and social progress, this study demonstrates that land surveying is a precondition for claiming land-ownership as well as for planting and cultivating a new individual. Thoreau's land surveys recapitulate the sentiment that makes cultivating one's garden (diligence, self-reliance, property, and propriety) a moral imperative that transforms the landscape from "pasture for imagination" into the ground against which the American Self is measured and inscribed.


Requested ProQuest takedown; no end date

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