Eric Slauter (University of Chicago), “Walden’s Carbon Footprint: People, Plants, Animals, and Machines in the Making of an American Book” (Yale Program in the History of the Book)

Event time: 
Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library See map
121 Wall Street
Event description: 
Eric Slauter is Associate Professor of English at the University of Chicago. His scholarship focuses chiefly on transformations in political thought and behavior in the eighteenth century. His first book, The State as a Work of Art: The Cultural Origins of the Constitution, examined the relation of culture to politics in revolutionary America. In another book project, Natural Rights: A Cultural History, 1689-1789, he hopes to explain how and why ordinary people came to believe they had rights before and through the Revolution. He is also fascinated by the material history of books, and is working on a project entitled Walden’s Carbon Footprint: People, Plants, Animals, and Machines in the Making of an Environmental Classic. A blend of environmental, labor, and literary history, the project examines the supply-chain of raw materials in the 1854 first edition of Thoreau’s book (from cotton-based paper and linen thread to animal-skin glue), considers the many people who contributed to its production (including enslaved African-Americans in the South, commodity brokers, northern mill workers, European rag-pickers, and women and children in the printing trades), and reflects on the literary genealogy of our contemporary desire to know the origin as well as the environmental and social impact of objects in our daily lives.
This event is sponsored by the Yale Program in the History of the Book. For more information, see