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Laura Dassow Walls, associate professor of English at Lafayette College, will deliver a talk entitled “A Material Faith: Literature and the Science of Life” at 8 p.m., Tuesday, April 6, in the auditorium of Kunkel Hall.

Walls’ talk, the second of two Jones Faculty Lectures for the 1998-99 academic year, is free and open to the public.

She will discuss the split between the humanities and the sciences as viewed through the prism of history. Walls will examine the fascination with science, the so-called “material faith,” of nineteenth century literary luminaries such as Emerson and Thoreau.

Walls joined the Lafayette faculty in 1992. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a doctorate in American literature from Indiana University.

Walls serves as faculty co-liaison of the VAST (Values and Science/Technology) program at Lafayette. Her research interests examine the intersections of literature and natural science in the nineteenth century, especially in the American Transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau, and in the early history of ecology and environmental studies.

Her teaching interests include 19th-century American literature, especially the American Renaissance, with special attention paid to authors such as Melville, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Emily Dickinson; colonial and Revolutionary American literature; and the influences of science and literature on each other from Galileo to the present, including figures such as Stephen Hawking, E.O. Wilson, and Carl Sagan.

Walls is the author of Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995). Her forthcoming book, Material Faith: Thoreau on Science, an edited volume of Thoreau’s writings on science, is slated for publication by Houghton Mifflin in May. She is currently working on a book on Emerson and American popular science.

Her work has appeared in American Quarterly, Configurations, Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, and The Concord Saunterer.

The talk is sponsored by the Thomas Roy and Lura Forrest Jones Faculty Lecture and Awards Fund, established in 1966 to recognize superior teaching and scholarship.

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