The Sowell Research Fellowship for 2022 has been awarded to Laura Darrow Walls.

Laura Dassow Walls is Professor Emerita at the University of Notre Dame, where she taught nineteenth-century American literature, particularly the American Transcendentalists, and the history and theory of ecological thought; previously she taught at Lafayette College and the University of South Carolina. She has authored numerous essays on Thoreau, Emerson, Alexander von Humboldt, and related figures; her book Henry David Thoreau: A Life (Chicago 2017) received Phi Beta Kappa's Christian Gauss Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Biography. Her other books include the award-winning Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt and the Shaping of America (2009); Emerson's Life in Science: The Culture of Truth (2003); and Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science (1995). Currently she is working on a literary biography of Barry Lopez, which she hopes will deepen our understanding of how his life experiences intertwined with his literary imagination.

"The span of Barry Lopez's life, from 1945 through 2020, means that he witnessed the profound transformations of post-'45 America, the global "great acceleration" of the 1950s onward, the so-called "death of nature," and the emergence of the Anthropocene--all the while developing a literary voice that opened new ways of conceiving humanity's relationship with nature, the land, the planet, and each other. Lopez's journey is nothing less than the journey of our time, a time without precedent. He once told William Tydeman that he hoped his papers at the Sowell Collection would someday help someone tell the story of "what happened to one writer during a period of accelerated dehumanization." My goal is to find a way to tell that story, in hopes that it will help all of us who live on in the world he so loved."

For further information contact Dr. Diane Warner at