Date of Award
Master of Arts
“The Emergence and Evolution of Trans-Corporeality in Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species and Henry David Thoreau's Walden and ‘Walking'” attempts to establish a nineteenth-century, trans-Atlantic connection between English naturalist Charles Darwin and American Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau by considering the manner in which each author's seminal work considers the relationship between human beings and the natural world. By considering the lens of twenty-first century scholar Stacy Alaimo, whose concept of trans-corporeality suggests that all organic beings are inseparably linked to their environments, readers will discover that such interconnected sentiments have existed in our society even before Darwin and Thoreau's time, but their seminal texts specifically stress that humanity has nothing to fear from such connections. To address these fears, I argue that Darwin uses his concept of a metaphorical “Tree of Life” to challenge the Malthusian fear that human beings will inevitably go extinct by depleting their natural resources and instead argues that humanity has a vested interest in living harmoniously with all manner of flora and fauna. Across the Atlantic, Thoreau uses Transcendentalist sentiments to challenge American Gothic writers who fear humanity's interconnected link with the wilderness, a phenomenon I refer to as “grotesque trans-corporeality.” Overall, I argue that it is concerning how both Darwin and Thoreau's sentiments about humanity's close, trans-corporeal connections to the natural world occasionally go unnoticed.
Adam Frederick Haenlein
Haenlein, Adam Frederick, "The emergence and evolution of trans-corporeality in Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species and Henry David Thoreau's Walden and "Walking"" (2016). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 15027.