Sunday, January 17, 2010


This blog is part of my spring 2010 sabbatical project on Thornton W. Burgess. Burgess is best known these days for his children's book series, but I'm more interested in his activities as an all-round nature communicator. He is woefully ignored in the scholarly literature and I thought it might be useful to bring him back into the conversation.

Beyond his specific focus on nature and his importance in 20th century American conservation efforts, Burgess is also a model of a communications professional. He was an advertising copywriter, a working journalist and editor, a shrewd communications strategist, an active figure on the lecture circuit, and an early radio personality.

My starting point, though I'm expecting this to develop over the course of the semester, is Burgess and "community." Burgess created an imaginary community (Peter Rabbit, Johnny Chuck, Jimmy Skunk, and other citizens of the Green Meadow/Green Forest) through his stories but also maintained a variety of mediated clubs and "leagues" in support of conservation goals.

This is obviously relevant to the age of social media. I'm not intending the "league" in the title to be a literal one but if anyone stumbles upon this blog and wants to "join," feel free to comment (I don't have any "Thornton W. Burgess Research League" buttons to distribute--yet).

Burgess became famous for his endurance. He ended up with more than 15,000 daily columns to his credit. The least I can do is a post a day.


  1. Hm, I am unfamiliar with Burgess. Are there any good links on his work that you would recommend that readers like me visit (after the requisite Wikipedia visit, of course)?

  2. Oh, I just saw your list of online resources in the left-hand column! Perfect. :)