Literature: Henry David Thoreau Part 2 - 'Walden'

Ref: C3532642

Each class session will focus on a chapter or part of a chapter from Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" (1854), explaining the historical and social context, examining the literary features and discussing Thoreau's ideas (often quite provocative). Thoreau was writing in the turbulent years leading up to the American Civil War, years in which the country was debating the direction the United States should take both with other countries and within the nation (specifically in relation to slavery in the South). Drawing on the Transcendental ideas about the integrity of the individual and non-dogmatic religious views, Thoreau's writing is regarded as some of the most incisive, stirring and controversial voices of that age. Are his ideas applicable to us and our times today? This will always be the question shaping our discussions.

Course aim

We will discuss Henry David Thoreau's classic work "Walden" (1854), the account of Thoreau's two years living in the woods, observing both nature and also, from this unusual perspective, social customs.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • have a deeper understanding of some of the major issues in American society in the decades before the Civil War
  • have an acquaintance with Thoreau, his ideas and his style of writing
  • have a deeper appreciation of the natural world and of the issues that shape human society
  • connect Thoreau's ideas to contemporary society

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

There are many editions of "Civil Disobedience" and "Walden", but our recommended text is the Penguin Classics edition, edited by Michael Meyer.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Literature: Henry David Thoreau Part 2 - 'Walden'


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing