The “sonic boom” of sound studies in the humanities, particularly in literary studies, calls for a new approach to “listening” to a text, especially when the text was written prior to recorded sound.

The Walden Soundscape project is my effort to share the sounds at Walden Pond in Concord, MA with any interested reader of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden in the form of an immersive website experience. I’m recording sounds at the pond in all four seasons, and creating companion stop-motion animation videos of a walk around the pond in each season. Take a walk around Walden Pond. I’m also mapping the sounds of passing trains at different points around the pond to measure the impact trains have on bird song.

This project calls attention to the musicality of Thoreau’s philosophy and writing, and serves to immerse readers of Walden in the visual and sonic landscape of the pond. It is a companion website to my dissertation on the impact of sound and sonic vibrations on the American Transcendentalists, who were interested in maintaining harmony with nature (in a musical sense of active, reciprocal participation) and who understood music to be an experience not limited to the hearing world.

The Walden Soundscape project is funded by a Provost’s Digital Innovation Start-Up Grant from the Graduate Center, CUNY. With gratitude for this grant, I have been able to purchase sound recording equipment, receive training in sound recording and podcasting, make my first visit to Walden Pond in winter, and read some of Thoreau’s unpublished writings at Harvard University’s Houghton Library in Cambridge, MA.

This site is in progress as I work under the mentorship of Rose Reid to learn the ins and outs of natural sound recording and podcasting. Stay tuned for updates in March and May.

To read the full proposal for this project click here.