Environmental Humanities

Hawk perching in a cityscape

Includes Environmental Justice and Indigenous Knowledges, Critical Climate Studies, Critical Animal Studies, Blue Humanities, Racial Ecologies, and Environmental Media Studies

The study of literature and culture from an ecological or environmental perspective is a strong emphasis within the University of Oregon English Department. The English graduate program is allied with Environmental Studies graduate programs, and together with Philosophy and History, contributes a strong Environmental Humanities dimension to campus-wide environmental teaching and research.

Coursework Opportunities

In any given year, five or six courses are offered, ranging from introductory to advanced levels. Although only one regular ecocriticismcourse is listed in the UO catalog -- Literature and Environment (English 469/569) -- other courses are offered as special topics. Recent courses include:

    • The Animal Question and Literary Animals
    • Conquest and Cultural Representation of the New World
    • Early Modern Travel Writing
    • Ecocollapse and the Great Depression
    • Ecocritical Theory
    • Evolution and the Modern
    • Faulkner, Welty, and the Natural World
    • Forests in Early MOdern Literature
    • Henry David Thoreau
    • Humanism and the Question of the Animal
    • The Idea of Wilderness
    • Land and Landscape Aesthetics
    • Literature, Natural History, and America
    • Migration in American Literature
    • The Natural History of Modernism
    • Nature in Medieval Literature
    • Pastoralism in America: Nature, Subsistence, Leisure, and Travel
    • Rhetoric, Science, and Environmental Writing
    • Representing Nature in the Long Eighteenth Century
    • Science and Nineteenth-Century American Literature
    • Science and Nineteenth-Century American Literary Culture
    • The Science of Modernism
    • Senses of Place
    • Thoreau, Transcendentalism, and Secularization
    • Thoreau’s Modernities
    • Thoreauvian Traditions in Contemporary Environmental Writing
    • Women and the Body of the Real
    • Women Writers and the Environment

Interdisciplinary links exist with many other strong programs on campus: Environmental Studies, the Environmental Law Program at the UO Law School, the Institute for Sustainable Environment, and the departments of Landscape ArchitectureGeographyHistory, and Biology.

Graduate Study

Ph.D. in English with a Structured Emphasis in Literature and the Environment Graduate students in Ecocritcism have created an informal interdisciplinary group, Mesa Verde which hosts reading and discussion groups, outdoor activities, and the Mesa Verde Colloquium in which faculty members and graduate students present and discuss papers together at several meetings each term.

Dissertations in Literature and the Environment:

  • John Coletta, “The Great Web of Being: Ecological and Evolutionary Aesthetics and the Ideology of Biology,” John Gage, director (U89)
  • Jeffrey Harrison, “Shelley’s caves : linguistic landscape and the aporetic gap from Pyrrho to Rorty,” Forest Pyle, director (F95)
  • Lila Harper, “Solitary travelers: nineteenth-century women’s travel narratives,” William Rossi, director (S96)
  • Creighton Lindsay, “The rhetoric of modern American pastoral,” John Gage, director (S96)
  • Jean Beck, “Unsettling frontiers in the American West: Robinson, Kingston, Silko,” Linda Kintz, director (U96)
  • David Gilcrest, “Greening the lyre: environmental poetics and ethics,” John Gage, director (U96)
  • Yvonne Rauch, “Traversing the discourses: the common grammar of wild and domestic in American nature writing and biology,” James Crosswhite, director (U97)
  • Peter Blakemore, “Writing home: inhabitation and imagination in American literature,” Glen Love, director (U98)
  • Rob Ensign, “‘Lean down your ear upon the earth, and listen’: the eco-consciousness of ThomasWolfe,” Karen Ford, director (U98)
  • Nic Witschi, “Landscape matters: natural resources and the claim to realism in western American literature,” Suzanne Clark, director (U98)
  • Laird Christensen, “Spirit astir in the world: sacred poetry in the age of ecology,” William Rossi, director (U99)
  • Aimee Ross, From ghosts to skulls: selfhood, bodies and gender in Renaissance revenge tragedy,” George Rowe, director (F00)
  • David Sumner, “ ‘Speaking a word for Nature’: the ethical rhetoric of American nature writing,” John Gage, director (U00)
  • Christopher Hitt, “The natural sublime: romanticism and the aesthetics of wilderness,” Forest Pyle and Louise Westling, directors (S01)
  • Alex Hunt, “Narrating American space: literary cartography and the American Southwest,” Louise Westling, director (U01)
  • Ce Rosenow, Pictures of the floating world: American modernist poetry and cultural translations ofJapan,”Suzanne Clark, director (S02)
  • Keiko Kagawa, Bodies in the ‘house of fiction’: the architecture of domestic and narrative spaces by Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and George Eliot,” Richard Stein, director (U02)
  • Barbara Cook, Women’s transformative texts from the Southwestern Ecotone,” Louise Westling, director (S03)
  • Jennifer Shaiman, Building American homes, constructing American identities: performance of identity, domestic space, and modern American literature,” Paul Peppis, director (S04)
  • Sara McCurry, “The Places of Contemporary American Poetry,” Karen Ford, director (S05)
  • Sarah McFarland, Engendering the wild: the construction of animals in twentieth century nature writing,” Louise Westling, director (S05)
  • Arwen Spicer, Toward sustainable change: the legacy of William Morris, George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells in the ecological discourse of contemporary science fiction,” William Rossi, director (S05)
  • Ryan Hediger, “Embodying ethics: at the limits of the American literary subject,” Suzanne Clark, director (U05)
  • Nathan Straight, “Natural biographies: ecology and identity in contemporary American autobiography,” Suzanne Clark, director (F05)
  • Angela Thompson, “Ethics of seeing and politics of place: FSA photography and literature of the American south,” Louise Westling, director (W06)
  • Michelle Satterlee, “Shadows of the self: trauma, memory, and place in twentieth-century American fiction,” Mary Wood, director (S06)
  • Scott Knickerbocker, “Modern Ecopoetics: The Language of Nature/The Nature of Language,” Karen Ford, director (U06)
  • Kevin Maier, “The Environmental Rhetoric of American Hunting and Fishing Narratives: A Revisionist History,” Suzanne Clark, director (U06)
  • Dan Shea, “The Politics of Reproduction in Early Modernist British Literature,” Paul Peppis, director (F06)
  • Kelly Sultzbach, “Embodied Modernism: The Flesh of the World in the Work of E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, and W.H.Auden”, Louise Westling, director (S08)
  • Sara Jacquette (ESSP), “Indians, Invasive Species, and Invalids: the Ecological ‘Other’ in Amnerican Environmental Thought,” Shari Huhndorf, direcotr (09)
  • Janet Fiskio (ESSP), “Ecohermeneutics and the Epistemology of Literary Form,” Louise Westling, director (S09)
  • Tristan Sipley, “Second Nature: Literature, Class, and the Built Environment 1848-1915,” William Rossi, director (S10)
  • Rachel Hanan, “Silva Rhetorical:(Re-) Placing Early Modern Environmental Language,” Lisa Freinkel, director (U10)
  • Stephen Rust, “Hollywood at the Tipping Point: Blockbuster Cinema, Globalization, and the Cultural Logic of Ecology,” Michael Aronson, director (S11)

In Progress:

  • Shane Billings, “The Ecology of Nowhere: Contemporary Literary Utopica and the Politics of Sustainability,” Suzanne Clark, director.
  • Christopher McGill, “The Aesthetics of Animality in American Literature, 1900-1979,” Suzanne Clark, director
  • Daniel Platt, “Toxicity, Postmodernism, and the Narrative of Environmental Organizing,” David Vazquez, director
  • Melissa Sexton, “‘Packing the World into Words': Ecocriticism and the Limits of Representation,” William Rossi, director


Professional Connections:

Oregon faculty and graduate students are active in the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Tina Richardson and Barbara Cook served as ASLE Graduate Liaisons for 2001-2003. During the academic year 1996-97 Laird Christensen and Peter Blakemore also held these positions. Louise Westling was elected Vice-President of ASLE for 1997 and was President in 1998.

Stacy Alaimo

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  • Title: Professor of English
  • Additional Title: Core Faculty, Environmental Studies
  • Phone: 541-346-1476
  • Office: 205 PLC
  • Website: Website

Suzanne Clark

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  • Title: Professor Emerita
  • Additional Title:
  • Office Hours: Monday & Wednesday, 12:30pm-2:00pm @ CHA 109

James Crosswhite

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Stephanie LeMenager

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  • Title: Barbara and Carlisle Moore Professor of English
  • Phone: 541-346-3966
  • Office: 457 PLC
  • Website: Website

William Rossi

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Gordon Sayre

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  • Title: Professor
  • Additional Title: Interim Summer 2020 Head of English, Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Phone: 541-346-1313
  • Office: 472 PLC

Sarah D Wald

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  • Title: Associate Professor, Environmental Studies & English
  • Additional Title: Associate Director of Environmental Studies; Director of Graduate Admissions for English
  • Phone: 541-346-1613
  • Office: 443 PLC
  • Website: Website

Louise Westling

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The Department of English is delighted to announce the following publication achievements by our graduate students:

Alexander Steele ...

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Professor Sarah Wald has been awarded this year’s Campus Sustainability ...

ENG 690 NWMLA Conference

Monday, December 9th,  9 am - 3:30 pm in the EMU Diamond Lake Room

The English Department will hold a conference for first-year ...

Sarah D Wald and David J Vázquez Book Launch for "Latinx Environmentalisms"

Latinx Environmentalisms: Place, Justice, and the Decolonial (Temple UP, 2019) 

Saturday, November 9th, 4pm-6pm

Betsy Wheeler Reads from HandiLand

Professor Betsy Wheeler will be reading from her new book, ...

The Office of the Provost awards Wald for excellence in research, teaching, and service

Join us in celebrating the English Honor Society's banner year

Northwestern University Professor Laurie Shannon will deliver the 2019 Kingsley Weatherhead Lecture in Shakespeare Studies

3:00 PM, Thursday, May 16, 2019, Knight Library Browsing Room ...

Professors David Vázquez and Sarah Wald co-organize the Emerald Earth Film Festival

April 10 / April 24 / May 9, The Bijou Art Cinemas, 492 East 13th Ave

English Undergrads Win Fellowships for New Approaches to Shakespeare’s Caliban, Kesey’s Environmentalism, and the Racialized Children of Southern Gothic


Meet with representatives from ISLE and RESILIENCE to learn strategies for writing and publishing in this dynamic field

3:00-5:00 PM, Friday, April 12,  Knight Library Browsing ...

Professor Gerhardt to lecture on climate change, environmental justice, and island nations

3:30 PM, Thursday, April 11, 112 Lillis Hall

UO English hosts the 11th biennial conference of the Society of Early Americanists

Thursday, February 28th - Saturday, March 2nd


Click to learn more about the English honorary's landmark year and fundraising efforts!



Please join us in supporting UO English's chapter of Sigma Tau Delta as it raises ...

Thursday, 10/04/2018, 12:00-1:30 pm, 
Many Nations Longhouse


Image“Chosen Family” courtesy of Grace Chen  http://grace-chen.com

University of Oregon
May 9th-11th, 2018
Free and Open to the Public

For full schedule, visit: https://blogs.uoregon.edu/ejrpl/