Taylor, Bob Pepperman 1958–

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Taylor, Bob Pepperman 1958–

(Robert Taylor, Robert Pepperman Taylor)

PERSONAL:

Born June 15, 1958. Education: Wesleyan University, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1980; Rutgers University, M.A. and M.Phil., 1985, Ph.D., 1986.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Colchester, VT. Office—Department of Political Science, University of Vermont, P.O. Box 54110, Burlington, VT 05405-4110. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Vermont, Burlington, visiting assistant professor, 1986-88, assistant professor, 1988-94, associate professor, 1994-2002, professor of political science, 2002—, secretary of College of Arts and Sciences, 1989-92, associate director of John Dewey Honors Program, 1998, director of John Dewey Honors Program, 1999-2003, dean of Honors College, 2003-07, served on numerous committees. Suomi College, guest faculty, 1993. Consultant to Northern Lights Productions.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Bicentennial fellow, 1988-91, and Kroepsch-Maurice Teaching Award, 1995, both University of Vermont; National Endowment for the Humanities research fellow, 2002-03.

WRITINGS:

Our Limits Transgressed: Environmental Political Thought in America, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1992.

America's Bachelor Uncle: Thoreau and the American Polity, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 1996.

(Editor, with Ben A. Minteer, and contributor) Democracy and the Claims of Nature: Critical Perspectives for a New Century, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (Lanham, MD), 2002.

Citizenship and Democratic Doubt: The Legacy of Progressive Thought, University Press of Kansas (Lawrence, KS), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Democracy and the Environment, edited by Bill Lafferty and James Meadowcroft, Elger, 1996; Conservation Reconsidered, edited by Charles Rubin, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000; Friends and Citizens, edited by Dennis Bathory and Nancy Schwartz, Rowman & Littlefield, 2000; and The Moral Austerity of Environmental Decision Making, edited by John Martin Gillroy and Joe Bowersox, Duke University Press, 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including American Political Science Review, Environmental Ethics, Forest and Conservation History, Journal of Social Philosophy, New England Quarterly, Polity, Social Science Quarterly, and Soundings.

SIDELIGHTS:

Bob Pepperman Taylor has published several books about politics and the environment. In Our Limits Transgressed: Environmental Political Thought in America, he shows the connections between the political and environmental thought of nature writer Henry David Thoreau and the first U.S. Forest Service chief, Gifford Pinchot, arguing that their political ideals need to be revived. According to D.R. Jones in Environmental Law, the book is "es- sential reading for the student of environmental law and policy precisely because it summarizes the ideas of the major environmental theorists, while highlighting the neglected political values that originally inspired Thoreau and Pinchot." Jones noted Taylor's attention to the question of whether "humility before nature can be integrated with a commitment to democratic life." While acknowledging that Taylor does not answer the question, Jones stated that the author "inspires readers to consider the possibilities and to search for inspiration in the writings he discusses."

Taylor continued his study of Thoreau in his next book, America's Bachelor Uncle: Thoreau and the American Polity. It is a "well-documented and provocative interpretation of Henry David Thoreau as a social critic and advocate of community," wrote Michael E. Meagher in Utopian Studies. Seeking to reveal Thoreau's contributions to American political thought, Taylor systematically examines Thoreau's writings and demonstrates the inaccuracy of many of the interpretations given them. "One finds intelligent, informed accounts not only of the classics, Walden and ‘Civil Disobedience,’" remarked Michael A. Mosher in the American Political Science Review, "but also of several of the less well-known pieces." Mosher found the book "eminently readable" and commented that it "opened my eyes to new ways of understanding a complex thinker, even if ultimately I departed from the conclusions of the author." Although Meagher perceived some weaknesses in the work, claiming that some of Taylor's analysis was based on "superficial associations" and unconvincing, he nonetheless maintained that it "has many virtues: excellent writing, organization, and a provocative thesis" as well as an interpretation that is "interesting, and in some respects, persuasive." In his conclusion, he named America's Bachelor Uncle "a valuable contribution to our understanding of Thoreau's thought."

In Citizenship and Democratic Doubt: The Legacy of Progressive Thought, Taylor explores the political thought of early- twentieth-century Progressive thinkers. He also traces ideas of democracy from a diverse group of writers including Plato and Socrates of ancient Greece, nineteenth-century Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville, and twentieth-century Americans John Dewey and Aldo Leopold, among others. "His aim is to save Progressivism from some of its worst impulses, and thereby redeem its legacy," commented Jean M. Yarbrough in the Claremont Review of Books. Taylor identifies two particularly problematic ideas in Progressivism: the tendency to model politics on science and the dream of overcoming all conflicts between the interests of individuals and those of society as a whole. Yarbrough deemed Taylor "especially good at uncovering the left-wing Social Darwinism that runs through Progressivism," but she said that Taylor fails to see that "the pragmatic, progressive politics he favors has been wedded to modern science from the start." Describing it as "a useful book," Yarbrough suggested that Citizenship and Democratic Doubt would "interest critics of the movement as much as its admirers."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Alternatives Journal, winter, 2004, Andrew Biro, "Theory Matters," p. 46.

American Historical Review, December, 1993, Gregg Mitman, review of Our Limits Transgressed: Environmental Political Thought in America, p. 1670.

American Literature, September, 1997, Leonard N. Neufeldt, review of America's Bachelor Uncle: Thoreau and the American Polity, p. 625.

American Political Science Review, March, 1998, Michael A. Mosher, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 214.

American Studies, fall, 1999, Steven Fink, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 191.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, September, 1998, Joel Myerson, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 196.

Choice, April, 1993, D.L. Feldman, review of Our Limits Transgressed, p. 1391; March, 1997, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 1168; November, 2002, J.S. Schwartz, review of Democracy and the Claims of Nature: Critical Perspectives for a New Century, p. 494; May, 2005, M. Berheide, review of Citizenship and Democratic Doubt: The Legacy of Progressive Thought, p. 1669.

Claremont Review of Books, fall, 2005, Jean M. Yarbrough, "Left Behind."

Environmental Politics, winter, 2002, Andrew Dobson, review of Democracy and the Claims of Nature, p. 151.

Ethics, January, 1994, Donald C. Lee, review of Our Limits Transgressed, pp. 427-428.

Historian, summer, 2006, William D. Jenkins, review of Citizenship and Democratic Doubt, p. 358.

Journal of American History, December, 1993, Char Miller, review of Our Limits Transgressed, p. 1089; December, 1997, Kerry S. Walters, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 1078; March, 2006, Andrew Feffer, review of Citizenship and Democratic Doubt, p. 1458.

Journal of Politics, November, 1993, Lewis P. Hinchman and Sandra K. Hinchman, review of Our Limits Transgressed, p. 1186.

Library Journal, December, 1996, Stephen Shaw, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 124.

Nineteenth-Century Literature, June, 1998, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 142.

Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 1997, John A. Gueguen, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 185.

Political Theory, August, 2006, Catherine A. Holland, "Democracy beside Itself," p. 488.

Times Literary Supplement, September 17, 1993, Albert Weale, review of Our Limits Transgressed, p. 7.

Utopian Studies, spring, 1999, Michael E. Meagher, review of America's Bachelor Uncle, p. 322.

Western Historical Quarterly, spring, 1994, Susan Rhoades Neel, review of Our Limits Transgressed, p. 96.

ONLINE

University of Vermont Web site,http://www.uvm.edu/ (September 22, 2008), faculty profile.

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