Will Howarth is a scholar-writer who has taught at Princeton since 1966. He helped to found its early programs in African-American Studies, Environmental Studies, and Humanities Computing. He also launched over sixty courses, supervised hundreds of theses and dissertations, and wrote fourteen books.
In the 1970s and 1980s Howarth published pioneer studies of Thoreau as writer, then served as President of the Thoreau Society and Editor-in-Chief of The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau. His expertise on Thoreau's two-million-word Journal led to a focus on nonfiction, first editing The John McPhee Reader, a founding text in literary journalism, then writing for National Geographic on American authors and their landscapes. His interest in travel and places inspired journeys to six continents for Princeton alumni, from the Galapagos to Papua New Guinea, which won him the University award for alumni education.
In the 1990s Howarth shaped two new fields, eco-criticism and humanities computing. He invented courses on environmental literature and history, served as president of the Center for American Places, and helped found the Princeton Environmental Institute, serving on its board for twenty years. As faculty in Applications of Computing, he led a humanities computing center and continues to speak on electronic writing and research. He also created Princeton’s first Web-centered courses, using digital resources to illuminate primary texts. Student favorites were a long-running trio of great author seminars, exploring the works of Melville, Thoreau, and Darwin.
Today Howarth teaches a freshman seminar on Film Noir and writes fiction and film with Anne Matthews, a journalist and Pulitzer finalist in literary nonfiction. Under the pen name Dana Hand, they wrote Deep Creek, a novel depicting the 1887 investigation of the real-life mass race murder of Chinese miners in Hells Canyon, chosen a Best Novel of the Year by the Washington Post and short-listed for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The Dana Hand team is now at work on Shadow Falls, a 1940s espionage novel set in Princeton, inspired by documents found in University archives.