Professor of Biology David Haskell is receiving accolades for his new book, The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature. Haskell is reading from the book and speaking to audiences across the country this spring.
The book follows for a year the life of one square meter of forest in Shakerag Hollow. Haskell uses this small area as a window into the ecology and natural history of the world, using close observation of the animals, plants and other creatures encountered there as the starting point for essays about science, ecology and conservation.
"Mr. Haskell's observational powers are impressive, his descriptions evocative, his knowledge wide-ranging, and his conclusions thoughtful and generous. Very much a contemporary biologist in his familiarity with genetics and population ecology, he also has the voracious synthetic imagination of a 19th-century naturalist. Most important, Mr. Haskell is a sensitive writer, conjuring with careful precision the worlds he observes and delighting the reader with insightful turns of phrase (a bee larva reared on pollen becomes an adult with a "body built wholly out of flowers")." - Hugh Raffles, The Wall Street Journal
“The results, collected in his book ‘The Forest Unseen,’ take the homely splotch of forest floor pictured on the cover — dead leaves, vines, moss and ferns lit by a ray of sunlight — and transform it into a series of lessons taught by a master instructor with the mind of a scientist and the soul of a poet.
“Haskell, a biology professor at the University of the South, is known for trading abstract lectures and reading assignments for classes structured around on-site or hands-on lessons. … But Haskell is no ordinary biology teacher, as we discover in our very first class, when he observes that the radiance of nearby rocks ‘comes not from stone but from mantles of lichen that blush emerald, jade, and pearl in the humid air.’” – Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Although Haskell, a professor at the University of the South, has written the book as a series of entries tracing the year, you don't need to follow along chronologically. Simply pick a chapter and you will find a quiet enchantment in the writing." - David B. Williams, Seattle Times
Haskell was named the Tennessee Professor of the Year in 2009 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. The Oxford American featured Haskell in its "Most Creative Teachers in the South" article in 2011. His classes have received national attention for the innovative ways in which they combine scientific exploration, contemplative practice, and action in the community - a trait to which many Sewanee students will attest.