Graduate Programs in Literature and Environment
The colleges and universities included in this listing provide a useful starting point, but they should by no means be considered the only schools whose programs are receptive to scholarship in literature and environment. This list was updated in February 2012.
Bread Loaf School of English
Although only offering undergraduate programs during the regular academic year, Middlebury College also runs the Bread Loaf School of English for six weeks every summer. The School of English (like its sister program, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference) was founded in 1920 at a lovely Victorian resort in the Green Mountains. Robert Frost taught and gave readings at Bread Loaf for many years. Faculty are annually drawn from many of the world's leading graduate programs in English. In addition to the Vermont campus (the Mother Loaf), Bread loaf has campuses at Oxford University, Santa Fe, and Asheville. Students can attend any or all of these branches over the five years of their work toward an MA. Faculty in the area of eco-criticism who have taught at the School of English have included Lawrence Buell, John Elder, Rochelle Johnson and Mark Long.
Carnegie Mellon offers an MA and a PhD in Literary and Cultural Studies, as well as both degrees in Rhetoric. Courses in Rhetoric have included offerings in Environmental Rhetoric (Dr. Linda Flower) and in the rhetoric of science (Dr. Andreea Ritivoi).
University of Calgary
The University of Calgary, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, offers MA and PhD degrees both in English and in Creative Writing. Faculty members especially interested in nature writing and environmental literature are Pamela Banting, Rick Davis, Harry Vandervlist, Tom Wayman, and Jason Wiens. Recent environmentally-oriented, graduate-level courses include Reading Texts and Landscapes, The Question of the Animal, and Postcolonial Ecologies. Theses and dissertations have focused on, e.g., the literature of environmental activism, gender and landscape, rethinking setting, the buffalo and indigenous creativity, and ranch memoirs. Since we also offer undergraduate special topics courses in literature and the environment, graduate students have the opportunity to teach courses in their specific area of interest and expertise. An interdisciplinary Representation and the Environment Research Group has been established at the U of C, which draws faculty and graduate students from Humanities, Fine Arts, Social Sciences, and Social Work. In addition, the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy (ISEEE) brings in at least eight or ten international guest speakers annually. The city of Calgary (pop. 1,000,000) is one hour from the Rocky Mountains, and the world-class fly-fishing Bow River runs through it.
University of California, Davis
The University of California, Davis, now offers three PhD faculty in English literature dedicated to literature, the environment, science, biology and related matters such as animality: Timothy Morton, Colin Milburn, and Michael Ziser. The department has a large number of MA and PhD students doing work in ecological criticism.
University of California Los Angeles
The UCLA English Department offers a PhD in English and includes several scholars who have done significant work in ecocriticism and the environmental humanities:
- Allison Carruth is the author of Global Appetites: American Power and the Literature of Food (2013) and co-editor of a special issue of Public Culture (2014); her areas of research and teaching include contemporary literature and new media, food culture and food politics, science and technologies studies (STS), urban environmentalism, and globalization theory. Her website is at www.allisoncarruth.com.
- Elizabeth DeLoughrey is the author of Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Island Literatures (2007) and co-editor of Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture (2005); Postcolonial Ecologies: Literature and the Environment (2011); and a special issue of the journal ISLE (Interdisciplinary Studies of Literature and the Environment) about postcolonial ecocriticism (2007). She is currently the co-editor of a forthcoming book Global Ecologies: Postcolonial Approaches to the Environmental Humanities and is finishing a monograph about climate change, empire, and the environment.
- Ursula K. Heise, author of Sense of Place, Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global (2008) and Nach der Natur - Das Artensterben und die moderne Kultur [After Nature: Species Extinction and Modern Culture] (2010), works on the connections of ecocriticism with theories of modernization and globalization, biodiversity loss and endangered species, urban humanities, media studies, digital humanities, and science fiction; her website is at www.uheise.net.
- Robert N. Watson, author of Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance (recipient of the 2007 ASLE book award), works on historical ecocriticism, animal studies, and environmentalist pedagogy.
In addition, UCLA has broad strengths in environmental studies and environmental sciences, including at the interdisciplinary Institute of Environment and Sustainability.
Chatham University MFA in Creative Writing
Chatham University’s MFA focusing on nature, environment and travel writing is the premier graduate program for nurturing creative writers interested in the environmental imagination and place-based writing. The program is inspired by the work of Chatham alumna, Rachel Carson, a creative writer whose work demonstrates both lyricism and social conscience. The heart of the program—nature, environmental and travel writing—honors Carson’s legacy, but expands the interpretation of environment to include any place-based writing and all genres-poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction-shaped by human relationship with place. In addition to plentiful creative writing workshops and craft courses in poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting and children’s writing, our unique MFA program includes instruction in nature and environmental writing, travel writing, and field seminars focused on the literature of wild, urban, and rural landscapes. Each year creative writing field seminars offer students the opportunity to travel to the United States and other parts of the world with faculty and generate creative work about the experience. Past and current field seminars include trips to Costa Rica, New Zealand, Greece, India, New Orleans and western Pennsylvania.
Students are given lots of time to write at Chatham: they take twelve hours of literary craft courses (workshops that focus on style, form and literary traditions) and nine hours of advanced writing workshops in addition to one field seminar, which is a traveling writing workshop. We offer regular seminars on topics such as Wilderness and Literature, Ecofeminism, Nature and Culture, Women and Nature, and The Environmental Imagination. Students also have the opportunity to work on Fourth River, Chatham’s literary journal, and to participate in an internship for an environmental or literary arts organization. The Rachel Carson Institute and the energetic literary and arts scene in Pittsburgh offer opportunities for students to collaborate with other groups and present their work in public venues should they wish.
City Universities of New York (CUNY)
Studying ecocriticism in the middle of Manhattan may seem counter-intuitive, if not altogether strange; however, there are professors in the PhD Program in English, and in related programs, that are very supportive of students working in the field. A short list of recent courses include David Harvey (Anthropology) “Geographic Thought and Theory”; Peter Hitchcock (English), “Postcolonial Space”; Gerhard Joseph (English), “Aestheticizing Science”; Joan Richardson (English), “American Aesthetics”; Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (English), “How to Do Things with Words and Other Materials”; Neil Smith (Anthropology), “Politics of the Spatial Present”; and Alan Vardy (English), “Romantic Poetry.” Research Centers supportive of environmental studies at the Graduate Center include The Americas Center on Science and Society, The Center for Human Environments, and The Center for Place, Culture, and Politics.
University of Glasgow
This Masters in Environment, Culture & Communication is concerned with the relationships we hold with our 'wild' environments, and how these evolved. You will develop a knowledge of environmental debates from both cultural and scientific perspectives, and learn to communicate environmental issues using a variety of tools and strategies. Based at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, students will take courses in environmental literature, politics and communication. In addition, they will elect to take a number of courses in environmental ethics and climate change, sharing classes with peers from their sister courses Environmental Science, Technology and Society and Applied Carbon Management.
Green Mountain College, an environmental liberal arts college in Poultney, Vermont, offers an online MS degree in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Writing and Communications. Despite being taught at a distance, this program requires students to focus assignments in each class on their local bioregions. Students attend a brief residency at the start of each academic year, then complete a sequence of six-week classes; the program generally take two years to complete. Students in the Writing and Communications concentration choose from courses such as Natural History Writing, Professional Writing and Advocacy, and Field Journaling, as well as workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Faculty with special expertise in this area include Laird Christensen, Ron Steffens, Janisse Ray, David Gilcrest, and Mitch LesCarbeau.
Hacettepe University—Ankara, Turkey
The Department of English Language and Literature of Hacettepe University has two graduate programs, offering MA and PhD courses on “British Cultural Studies” and “ English Literature.” The department has one PhD course in Cultural Studies graduate program focusing on environmental and cultural issues, Culture and the Environment. This course offers an advanced critical outlook on social and cultural ecology, environmental ethics and philosophy as well as ecocriticism. Other courses such as Post-colonial British Culture and Literature, and Colonial British Culture and Literature also offer perspectives on ecological imperialism and environmental colonialism. Related coure offerings include British Travel Literature, British Commonwealth Literatures; Contemporary Literary Theory and Criticism; Utopian Thought in English Literature, Contemporary Philosophical Trends, and Shakespeare courses. The recently founded English Language and Literature Research Association of Turkey (IDEA), which organizes international conferences each year, also enables scholars to present papers on ecocriticism and on the relations between literature and the environment.
University of Idaho
Located in the beautiful rolling hills of the Palouse, the University of Idaho’s English department is home to many MA faculty with “green” and/or place-based interests, including MA faculty Anna Banks, Erin James, Jan Johnson, Jennifer Ladino, Jodie Nicotra, and Scott Slovic, and MFA faculty Kim Barnes, Mary Clearman Blew, Bret Shepard, and Bob Wrigley. Our graduate students receive mentoring from top-notch scholars and writers in an intimate intellectual environment. MA seminars, which are taken by both MFA and MA students, reflect faculty expertise in ecocinema, ecopoetics, animal studies, affect theory, narrative theory, urban space, postcolonial ecocriticism, Western American literature, American Indian Studies, interdisciplinary ecocritical theory, and international environmental literature. Idaho also houses ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment and will host the 2015 ASLE conference.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
The doctoral program in Literature and Criticism at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania is unique because, in addition to the usual academic-year program, the department offers a summers-only option for established teachers. Author of the award-winning biography Edward Abbey: A Life and the 2008 College English article “Teaching Hometown Literature: a Pedagogy of Place,” Professor James M. Cahalan is the doctoral program’s leading specialist in ecocriticism and related fields. He has directed several dissertations in these areas. In addition, Professor Susan Comfort teaches about environmental justice issues and Professor Christopher Kuipers offers courses on the pastoral tradition.
Indiana University, Bloomington
IU-Bloomington offers a minor in Science and Literature, and has several faculty members who have demonstrated interests in science, the environment, animality and nature writing. These incude Richard Nash, whose current work explores the pedigree of thoroughbred horses and who has edited a special issue of the journal Configurations on animality and animal studies; creative writers Scott Russell Sanders and Alyce Miller, who recently hosted the “Kindred Spirits” conference on animals, law and ethics; and Christoph Irmscher, whose work explores early American nature writing. Irmscher’s current project is a book about the nineteenth-century anti-Darwinist Louis Agassiz; he has also produced the 1999 Library of American edition of Audobon’s writings and drawings. The English department has at various times organized a Science and Literature Affinity group, and several faculty members and graduate students usually attend the Society for Literature, Science and Arts annual conference; Richard Nash is the second vice-president of that organization. Recent graduate courses of interest include “The Place of Poetry”; “Postcards for a New Millennium: Science Fiction as Literary/Scientific Speculation”; “Animality in the 18th Century”; and the core course for the minor, “Literature and Science.”
University of Iowa
The English department at the University of Iowa includes a group of professors with an interest in literature and environment: Florence Boos, Barbara Eckstein, Laura Rigal, Philip Round, Claire Sponsler. Recent course offerings in related areas include Reading Place and Scale, Culture and Nature, Medieval Environments, Readings in Indigenous Theory, and Ecological Anthropology. University of Iowa Press publishes a special series entitled “American Land and Life,” emphasizing works on place and environment. Writers, scholars, and activists who have presented at the university or in the Iowa City area recently include Ted Steinberg, Jacques Leslie, Nancy Langston, Michael Pollan, Barry Lopez, Paula Gunn Allen, Timothy Beatley, and many others. A graduate reading group for students interested in place / environment was started in 2007.
Iowa State University
Iowa State University’s three-year program leading to the terminal MFA degree, emphasizes creative writing—poetry, fiction and nonfiction—about the environment. The MFA program offers an original and intensive opportunity for gifted students of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and drama to document, meditate on, celebrate, and mourn the transformation of our world. From the Sumerian and Homeric hymns to the Theogony and the Odyssey, from Noah to Moby Dick, from Black Elk to Black Boy, from Virginia Woolf to Tobias Wolff, the literary arts acknowledge an inherent connection between the human predicament and place. With more people sharing our planet’s finite space, and with our planet and its systems imperiled, an educated attention to place in the broadest sense of the term is vital. The human story finds its structure in geography, both natural and constructed, and in the complex landscape of cultural constructs.
Kansas State University
KSU offers an MA in English with various tracks: creative writing, cultural studies, literature, children’s literature, or composition and rhetoric. Students can pursue environmental or ecocritical interests in all these tracks. The English Department participates in a Long-term Ecological Reflection Program tied to the Division of Biology’s Long-term Ecological Research Program on Konza Prairie, sponsoring environmental writers and speakers. Faculty with particular interest in environmental literature and writing include Elizabeth Dodd (creative writing, American literature), Donna Potts (Irish and American literature, poetry), Michael Donnelly (Milton, 18th century, American nature writing), Carol Franko (utopian and dystopian fiction), James Machor (early and 19th century American literature, cultural studies, critical theory). In addition, the program encourages students to take a class outside the English department; students can pursue coursework with environmental emphases in History, Sociology, Geography, and other related fields.
Lynchburg College, a liberal arts institution situated in the shadow of Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains, has a small MA program which offers a hybrid creative writing/literature curriculum and thesis, and is also affiliated with the nature-based regional literary journal, the James Dickey Review. Four of the College's English faculty have participated in ASLE events and do work in the fields of ecocriticism, food studies, nature writing, and space/landscape theory. A number of recent student theses have reflected these interests and the curriculum is currently adding a course in eco-writing/literature. Faculty include program director and ISLE contributor Casey Clabough, the award-winning author of the travel memoir The Warrior's Path: Reflections Along and Ancient Route, as well as a novel, a biography, and five scholarly books; Robin Bates, author of a scholarly book and a specialist in the area of landscape theory involving Renaissance England and Ireland; and Allison Wilkins, author of the poetry collection Girl Who, editor of a forthcoming anthology of women's nature writing, and a frequent instructor of courses in Eco-writing and literature.
Madras Christian College—Madras, India
The Madras Christian College (affiliated to the University of Madras) had been offering a course on ecology and literature for the past twenty two years. This postgraduate ecocritical course is now called “ecoliterature.” Though the course is offered by the department of English, faculty of other disciplines such as Biology and Mass media share this course. The course was introduced by Nirmal Selvamony and the areas that he has included in the syllabus are deep ecology, eastern ecological theories like tinai, ecoethnomusicology, tribal literature, bioregionalism, nativism and ecopoetry. As part of the course the students are taken for a field trip to nearby tribal belts. The students are expected to submit a travel report and a scholarly short dissertation on any topic relating to the tribal life. The department also offers PhD in eco-oriented topics. Faculty members who are interested in ecocriticism include Nirmal Selvamony, Daniel David and D. Narasimhan.
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan offers the PhD in English Language & Literature; English & Women’s Studies; English & Education; and a graduate certificate program in Science, Technology, & Society. Michigan has a highly regarded School of Natural Resources and Environment, an active environmental law program at the Law School and strong presences in environmental history, cultural anthropology, and ecology. Several English department faculty are interested in ecocriticism, history of science, and related fields, including Susan Scott Parrish, John Knott, Lucy Hartley, Petra Kuppers, Thylias Moss (MFA), Tobin Siebers, Valerie Traub, and Patricia Yaeger; in History, John Carson, Phil DeLoria, Myron Gutmann, Paolo Squatriti, Alexandra Stern and Matt Lassiter; and in cultural anthropology, Tom Fricke. In addition, the Graham and Erb Institutes support research in environmental fields.
Michigan State University
Offering an MA and PhD in English and American Studies, Michigan State University offers a number of courses in animal studies, including sociology (Dr. Linda Kalof), English (Dr. Jennifer Fay), Philosophy (Dr. Paul Thompson) and in the Department of Animal Science (Dr. Janice Siegfried). There are also several Environmental Science and Policy courses offered each semester.
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
The Departments of English and Writing Studies at UMTC both offer support for graduate students in literature and the environment. The English Department offers a Ph.D. in English; interested faculty include Dan Philippon, Tony Brown, Charlie Sugnet, and Ray Gonzalez. The Writing Studies Department offers a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Scientific and Technical Communication; interested faculty include Donald Ross, Carol Berkenkotter, and Mary Schuster. Many allied centers also exist at UMTC, including the Institute for Social, Economic, and Ecological Sustainability; the Institute on the Environment; and the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change; as well as many allied graduate programs, including Geography, Conservation Biology, American Studies, and the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine.
University of Mississippi
The University of Mississippi offers the MA, MFA, and PhD in English. Faculty members who are especially interested in environmental literature, ecocriticism, and ecotheory include Ann Fisher-Wirth, Jay Watson, and Karen Raber. Recent environmentally-oriented, graduate-level courses include American Ecopoetry, Southern Literature and the Environment, Environmental Life Writing (creative nonfiction), and Renaissance Literature and the Environment. We have students who focus on ecopoetry for their MFA poetry theses, and on American or Renaissance environmental topics for dissertations. The University of Mississippi’s Center for Southern Studies also offers rich opportunities for research and study in all aspects of the Southern environment. And, since the University is actively developing campus-wide environmental initiatives as well as undergraduate courses in the field, graduate students will be able to be involved with community development and with teaching.
University of Montana
The Environmental Studies Program at the University of Montana offers a masters degree with a thesis focus in creative environmental writing. Associate Professor Phil Condon directs the focus and offers an environmental writing workshop and a seminar in the Literature of Nature Writing annually. Other faculty teach courses in diverse content areas, including sustainable agriculture, water ecology, and environmental justice, humanities, and law. Each year, a nationally known visiting environmental writer leads a graduate writing course and students may attend the Environmental Writing Institute. Graduate writing students publish Camas: The Nature of the West, a journal of environmental writing and take relevant courses in other departments, including English, History, Journalism, and Biological Sciences.
Montana Tech of the University of Montana
Montana Tech offers a Master of Science degree in technical communication in its Professional & Technical Communication Department. Students may select courses that emphasize environmental issues including, “Seminar in Technology, Communication & Culture,” “Communicating Environmental and Health Risk,” “Intercultural Communication,” and “Rhetorical Theories & Professional Communication.” Additionally, students may arrange for independent study courses that cover environmental issues. The thirty-one credit hours for the Master’s degree include a thesis, project, or publishable article, any of which may be focused on environmental concerns and issues. Faculty members with research and scholarly interests in environmental topics include Dr. Patrick Munday, Dr. Henrietta Shirk, and Chad Okrusch. Butte is a historically rich small town in the Northern Rocky Mountains, surrounded by unrivalled four-season outdoor recreational opportunities.
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
The English Department at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln is developing an emerging specialization in place-conscious and ecocritical studies, including MA and PhD opportunities in literary studies, creative writing, and composition and rhetoric. While we are rooted in our Great Plains region, and build on a long institutional commitment to Great Plains Studies, our “place-conscious” offerings and ecocritical studies courses cover a wide variety of topics and places. Affiliated faculty include Robert Brooke, Joy Castro, Barbara DiBernard, Tom Gannon, Fran Kaye, Tom Lynch and Mary K. Stillwell.
Graduate courses recently taught include a Seminar in Ecocriticism and Nature Writing, a Seminar in Native American Ecofeminism, a course in Nature in 19th-Century American Literature, Place-conscious Teaching, Rhetoric: Place-conscious Writing, Place-conscious Literary Studies: U.S. West-Australian Outback and Great Plains Literature. Associated institutions include the Nebraska Writing Project, the Center for Great Plains Studies, the Plains Humanities Alliance, Prairie Schooner, the Cather Project, and the Walt Whitman Archives.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
The PhD program at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro regularly offers coursework and independent studies in Literature and the Environment. Faculty members interested in this specialization include Karen L. Kilcup (American Literature), Alexandra Schultheis (Postcolonial Literature), Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater (Rhetoric and Composition), Hephzibah Roskelly (Rhetoric and Composition), and Nancy Myers (Rhetoric and Composition). Faculty interests include: environmental justice and human rights, literacy and ethnography, race and gender studies, sacred places, ecofeminism, globalism, and bioregionalism. The program offers opportunities for service learning.
The Ohio State University
All PhD students in English at Ohio State design individual programs of study, and since the early 1990s several students in rhetoric and in literary studies have completed dissertations focusing on ecocriticism, working with English Department faculty who are active members of ASLE, publish and teach in the area of literature and environment studies, and direct doctoral dissertations in the field. Associate Professor H. Lewis Ulman serves as editor of the ASLE Online Bibliography and works on American nature writing, early modern natural history, and the intersections of technology and environment. Professor Lisa Kiser studies nature in the Middle Ages and medieval environmental history. Associate Professor Marlene Longenecker studies ecofeminism and critical theory. In addition, Kathleen Wallace works on African-American literature and the environment. The English department here is very supportive of interdisciplinary projects, and grad students working on ecocriticism can take courses in other departments relatively easily. Of particular interest might be Geography's specialty area in Environment and Society and History's Environmental History group, as well as the graduate course offerings of the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the interdisciplinary Environmental Science Program. We also have another ASLE member in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, Assistant Professor Bernhard Malkmus.
University of Oregon
Literature and Environment began as a focal emphasis in the UO English Department in the early 1990s, inspired by faculty member Glen Love’s 1989 call for an ecological literary criticism in his Presidential Address to the Western Literature Association. In one of the oldest ecocriticism programs in the US, Oregon’s strong graduate cohort has been a lively equal partner with faculty in creating curriculum and leading research in this rapidly expanding field. A warmly collegial atmosphere is centered around MesaVerde, a student/faculty organization that sponsors reading groups, colloquia, retreats, and social events.
The leafy UO campus is set in a friendly town full of live music venues, health food stores large and small, craft bakeries, bike paths and proximity to both the Cascade Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. A diverse organic farming community rings the town of Eugene, providing local produce at farmers’ markets and local shops from April through November. Outdoor recreation is easy to find, both in the town of Eugene with its two mountain rivers flowing through, and in the nearby wilderness areas full of trout streams and snowy peaks. Perhaps the rugged Pacific Northwest landscapes of fertile valleys and green mountains west of the Cascades and high plateau cattle ranching country to the east are responsible for the keen environmental interests of the region. The University of Oregon is one of the most environmentally active campuses in the nation, with many departments offering green curricula and much interdisciplinary collaboration.
English Department faculty and graduate students have been founding members and continue to be active in the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, as well as presenting their research at related national and international conferences. Graduates of the program staff environmental literature positions at colleges and universities around the US and are prominent organizers of panels at MLA, WLA, ASLE, ALA, and other professional meetings. Faculty expertise ranges from Thoreau and nineteenth-century science, to postcolonial theory and travel writing in the Long Eighteenth Century, to ecocritical cultural studies at the turn of the nineteenth century into the Modernist era; from science studies and animal studies to environmental philosophy; from concepts of nature in the Middle Ages, to colonial American ethnohistory, cartography, and naturalism; to geopolitical food policy and literature in the twentieth century.
Pacifica Graduate Institute
The M.A. Engaged Humanities & Creative Life at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, California is an interdisciplinary specialized program that builds upon Pacifica Graduate Institute’s unique research and teaching in depth psychological perspectives for ecologically oriented humanities disciplines (such as literature, history, philosophy, arts practice based research, art history, museum studies, cultural studies, Postcolonial studies etc.) in order to provide an enhanced integrated program adhering to recognized disciplinary and professional standards. Pacifica Graduate Institute represents a community of dedicated research scholars with decades of experience and publications in exploring and increasing creativity through traditional humanities and arts practice based research. Pacifica offers a particular focus in developing the ecological humanities, including course in advanced ecocriticism in relation to the unconscious, myth and nature-based creativity, the healing arts. The MA grows from this strong foundation of research and teaching into how creativity works with eco-perspectives in the humanities (for example from traditional scholarship to web-enhanced creative practice and embodied performance). The program extends and deepens what it means to be human in a new relationship with the non-human.
University of North Texas
Deeply invested in interdisciplinary Environmental Studies, The University of North Texas takes pride in its numerous environmental and sustainability initiatives, as well as its commitment to addressing economic, social, and cultural environmental issues. In keeping with this mission, the English department provides undergraduate and graduate students with ample opportunities to study literature from an environmental, ecological, and/or ecocritical standpoint.
The department has been building ecocriticism as one of its focus areas and now offers courses addressing fundamental issues of this growing field of literary study (such as “Literature and the Environment”) as well as courses with a more specific focus that address particular areas of ecocritical interest (like “Chicana/o Environmental Thought”). More specifically, professors Priscilla Ybarra and Ian Finseth both have noted interests in the intersections between environmental history and environmental studies, including canonical as well as ethnic American literary traditions. Dr. Ybarra integrates more diverse approaches to the natural environment, focusing particularly on the development of Chicana/o environmental thought. Furthermore, following the work of prominent environmental scholars, Dr. Ybarra’s work problematizes certain fundamental frameworks of ecocriticism such as definitions of “nature writing” and concepts such as “wilderness.” Dr. Finseth specializes in nineteenth-century American and African American literature, with particular research interests in race, ecocrticism, science, and religious history. His first book, Shades of Green: Visions of Nature in the Literature of American Slavery, 1770-1860 (University of Georgia Press, 2009), examines the role of environmental thought and images of the natural world in the debate over human bondage in the early American republic. His current book project will introduce an analysis of literary representations of ecstasy and dissociative experience, focusing on the cognitive and neurophenomenological dimensions of the human encounter with nature.
The English department also promotes interdisciplinary work more broadly. Graduate students can take advantage of courses offered by the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies which hosts the nation’s leading program in Environmental Ethics and Philosophy—home to such prominent scholars as J. Baird Callicott, Eugene Hargrove, Patricia Glazebrook, Robert Figueroa, Irene Klaver, and Ricardo Rozzi—and the Center for Environmental Philosophy. Students may also take courses within the department of Anthropology, which offers a focused graduate degree in Environmental and Ecological Anthropology.
More generally, UNT’s Office of Sustainability fosters campus-wide awareness of environmental challenges while collaborating with students, faculty, staff, and administration to advance sustainable practices and behaviors, most specifically the University’s goal to achieve carbon-neutrality; and the student-run North Texas Energy and Environment Club promotes environmental awareness, hosts environmental fairs and workshops, promotes initiatives from the Office of Sustainability, and encourages student involvement in environmental issues.
Furthermore, UNT has recently partnered with numerous organizations in the North Texas region to implement numerous environmental initiatives. Such initiatives include, but are not limited to, the Waterways Project, a biennial water conference at UNT which takes an interdisciplinary approach to addressing critical water issues; the Trust for Land, which works with North Texas communities to preserve natural areas and create parklands; the Prairie and Timbers chapter of the Audubon Society, which offers programs related to wildlife, ecology, conservation, and birds; and the Cross Timbers Group of the Sierra Club, which works to protect the wild spaces of North Texas.
For more information about environmental literary studies at UNT, please feel free to contact Dr. Ybarra (Priscilla.Ybarra@unt.edu), Dr. Finseth (firstname.lastname@example.org), Ph.D. student Ashley E. Reis (AshleyReis@my.unt.edu), or visit the English department’s website at www.english.unt.edu.
University of Texas at Arlington
The MA and PhD in English at the University of Texas at Arlington includes graduate courses on environmentally-oriented topics and graduate students focus on nature and the environment in both their research and their teaching. Graduate faculty include Amy Tigner (the environment in Renaissance England, early modern environmental studies of landscape, land usage, and pollution); Neill Matheson (Thoreau; nineteenth-century American literature, natural history, and anthropology; theories of the animal); and Stacy Alaimo (environmental humanities; science studies; new materialism, gender and environment, green cultural studies; environmental health and environmental justice, animal studies, oceans).
University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin offers an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in fifteen fields of study including all periods of American and British literature, Ethnic & Third World literatures, Women, Gender & Literature, Cultural Studies, Digital Literacies, Poetry & Poetics, and Drama, among others. Currently there are two Ph.D. faculty doing research in the environmental humanities: Heather Houser and Allen MacDuffie.
Texas Tech University
The Literature, Social Justice, and Environment (LSJE) initiative in the Department of English centers upon the most important developments in the study of the natural environment in literature. Issues of race, regionalism, and social justice have been embedded in environmental literature from its beginnings. Most of us know Thoreau wrote Walden but sometimes forget he also wrote “Civil Disobedience.” Edward Abbey’s MA thesis examined the moral implications of political violence. John Muir not only helped convince Theodore Roosevelt to found the National Park system but also wrote about the forced removal of Yosemite’s Native American inhabitants in order to turn the valley into our first wilderness park—a park which would then adopt the image of the "Indian Brave" to grace its front entrance. More recently, Carolyn Merchant has written on the connections between slavery and soil degradation in the American south. Gloria Anzaldúa's metaphor of the borderlands originates in the geographic and psycho-social space of the US-Mexico political boundary. Cherríe Moraga writes about the everyday experience of the environment for queer women of color and defines environment as home, work, food, and body.
In other words, regional studies, race, ethnicity, and postcoloniality are inextricable from studies of environmental literature. Our aim with the LSJE initiative is to engage students who share the desire to approach canonical, contemporary, and newly discovered historical literature through the intellectual media of these combined sensibilities. Students will revisit important texts in a new light—across political boundaries into bioregions—within environmental historical contexts. Students pursuing study in LSJE will have the chance to take courses in ecocriticism, race and gender theory, and appropriate literary periods and subjects. MA students may take as many as fifteen hours of coursework in such areas and write a thesis. PhD students must take at least eighteen hours and can take more. Students will also have access to the Sowell Collection in Literature, Community and the Natural World, one of the finest repositories of contemporary literature of natural history. They may also have the opportunity to work directly with Barry Lopez, a Visiting Distinguished Scholar at Texas Tech University. Mr. Lopez has brought exhibits to the University's art gallery, taught workshops, and makes twice-annual visits to campus to meet with students in a wide range of disciplines.
The Creative Writing Program at Texas Tech University offers both the MA and PhD with emphasis in creative writing to qualified students, with a creative writing faculty whose writing and teaching interests support writing on environment and place. Creative writing faculty work on creative writing projects involving Southwestern literature/place and we encourage our students to make use of the Southwest Collections archives and materials in their research.
Vanderbilt University’s PhD in English program offers resources for the study literature and the environment in the form of its notable faculty members Cecelia Tichi and Vera Kutzinski. Beyond the program itself, graduate students may work with Vanderbilt’s fabulous interdisciplinary faculty group for the study of Ecology and Spirituality, consisting of environmental and environmental justice advocates such as David Wood (Philosophy), Brooke Ackerly (Political Science), Beth Conklin (Anthropology), Michael Vandenbergh (Law School), and others. Research opportunities and study opportunities (and funding) also abound at Vanderbilt’s Center for the Americas, Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies, Center for Ethics, and Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities.
University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
The concentration in Environmental Thought and Culture in the University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources is an individually-designed Master’s degree for motivated students who seek to pursue a broad and transdisciplinary curriculum of graduate work in environmental studies, with a strong foundation in the ethical and philosophical traditions that inform environmental theory and action. The concentration balances depth in the student’s research area with breadth in the range of skills and approaches required for skillful engagement with environmental issues. With its emphasis on transdisciplinary research (drawing on the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences) and on critical thinking, integrative analysis, and strong written and oral communication skills, the concentration provides students with a well-rounded understanding and capacity for addressing real-world environmental issues and problems.
Applications of participating faculty members’ work have included education, critical analysis, policy, planning, organizational management and decision making, philosophy, and activism, related to such issues as sustainable community development, public lands and protected areas, tourism, forests, mining, indigenous issues, development of religious responses to environmental issues, and arts and media communication. Students will work closely with their advisors and members of their studies committee to develop a program of coursework (which may include internships) and a final project or research thesis that strengthens their understanding and professional competency in some aspect of environmental thought, study, and action. Students’ programs of study will be self-designed in close consultation with their advisor and studies committee. Final project or research theses may be applied or theoretical, and may involve such methodologies as social surveys, ethnography, action research in organizational settings, discourse and policy analysis, document research, multi-criteria assessment for environmental decisions, organizational strategy development, media or artistic communication techniques, ethical or philosophical analysis, and others.
University of Victoria—Victoria, Canada
The Department of English at the University of Victoria welcomes applications from prospective MA and PhD students considering studies in literature and the environment. The department, host of the ASLE biennial conference in 2009, has particular strengths in ecocriticism, animal studies, and the environmental humanities. Our MA concentration in Literatures of the West Coast adopts a transnational approach to regional literary studies, and the department is home to many students in the university's Cultural, Social, and Political Thought interdisciplinary graduate program.
Core faculty members in ecocriticism include Nicholas Bradley (Canadian literature, American literature, contemporary poetry), Richard Pickard (environmental nonfiction, literature before Romanticism, British Columbia literature), Sheila M. Rabillard (modern, contemporary, and Canadian drama), and Nicole Shukin (Canadian literature, cultural studies, animal studies, poststructuralist theory). Other faculty members offer further expertise in spatial theory, regionalism, travel writing, indigenous studies, and other relevant fields. In the last few years, we've offered graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses with such titles as "Exploring the Emergence of Eco-Theatre"; "Forest Fetish: Reading the Nature of the West Coast"; "The Environmental Gaze: Literature, Film, Theory"; and "Signifying Canines: Mimesis, Animals, Markets."
Recent MA graduates have completed projects on such topics as Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild and other nonfiction survival narratives; the cultural geography of Vancouver, as represented in novels by Douglas Coupland and Wayson Choy; and the environmental(ist) discourses drawn upon by sustainability advertising. Two of our graduate students received travel grants from ASLE to present at the 2011 biennial conference, and two other students received awards from ALECC (the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada) for their presentations at ALECC's 2010 biennial conference.
University of Virginia
UVa has no program for, nor does it offer graduate classes in, environmental criticism. Professor Stephen Railton, who teaches nineteenth-century American literature, is the department’s primary resource for students interested in environmental criticism, and he has directed several dissertations with an environmental focus. The Brown Residential College at UVa offers a bi-annual, two-year teaching fellowship to doctoral students, the “Sara Shallenberger Brown Fellowship for Environmental Literature,” which provides tuition, a full stipend, and the opportunity to teach upper-division courses on literature and the environment.
Western Carolina University
Western Carolina University has an MA, not a PhD program, with concentrations in literature, professional writing, and composition and rhetoric. Western Carolina University's new strategic plan calls for the University to
* "Fulfill the educational needs of the state and Western North Carolina through high-quality academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels with a specific focus on curricular areas of creative arts, education, environment, health, innovation and technology, and recreation and tourism." (http://news-prod.wcu.edu/2012/06/trustees-approve-strategic-plan/)
Western Carolina University's English program offers an MA (with concentrations in Literature, Professional Writing, and Rhetoric and Composition), as well as MAT and MAEd. degrees.
Graduate study in English at WCU allows students the opportunity to work with faculty whose research and creative pursuits are environmentally focused:
1. Catherine Carter is a specialist in English Education and a poet whose volume of nature poetry The Memory of Gills (LSUP, 2007) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Her latest collection of poems is The Swamp Monster at Home. (http://lsupress.org/books/detail/swamp-creature-at-home/)
2. Mae Claxton, a Southern Literature specialist, is working with the Horace Kephart Special Collection in WCU's Hunter Library in order to make more of his manuscripts accessible to the public. One of our current graduate assistants is helping Dr. Claxton with this project. Kephart is considered one of the founding fathers of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here's his Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Kephart
3. American literature specialist Annette Debo has just published The American H.D. (U of Iowa P, 2012), which features this ecocritical chapter: "Plants and Trees Make Countries: H.D.'s Sacred Lands."
4. Creative writer Pam Duncan is co-organizer of the Rooted in the Mountains Symposium, an annual event designed to "raise awareness of the intersection of environmental, health, and indigenous issues related to mountain destruction" (from the 2011 press release: http://news-prod.wcu.edu/2011/10/rooted-in-the-mountains-symposium-coming-oct-20-21-to-wcu/)
5. Deidre Elliott specializes in writing creative nonfiction about the natural world.
6. Interim Dean of the Graduate School and Milton scholar Mimi Fenton's book Milton's Places of Hope: Spiritual and Political Connections of Hope with Land (Ashgate 2006) addresses how the concept of hope is intrinsically connected with place and land in the early modern period.
7. British literature specialist Brent Kinser is working to digitize the diary notebooks of John Ruskin. From his proposal for an NEH grant to help with this work: "Ruskin's pivotal role as pioneer in the area of environmentalism was first explored in Michael Wheeler's collection of essays, Ruskin and the Environment (Manchester UP, 1995). Since then botanists, gardeners, nature artists, and organic farmers have continued to celebrate his role as an environmentalist and to apply his principles. His prescient warnings about the dangers and moral meaning of human pollution of the natural world have exerted an important influence on contemporary scientific debate."
8. Ron Rash, Parris Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Cultural Studies, is author of numerous environmentally conscious novels, including Saints at the River (2004) and Serena (2008). A major motion picture adaption of Serena, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, is forthcoming (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1247690/). Here's Ron's Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Rash
9. Brian Railsback, Dean of WCU's Honor's College and American literature scholar, has a forthcoming publication, "John Steinbeck's Environmental Evolution," a book chapter in Nature and the Environment (Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2012).
10. Laura Wright, a Postcolonial Literature specialist, is author of 'Wilderness into Civilized Shapes': Reading the Postcolonial Environment, which was nominated for the ASLE Book Award in 2011. (http://www.ugapress.org/index.php/books/wilderness_into_civilized_shapes/). She has published essays on animal rights and environmentalism in numerous venues including Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa (Ohio UP, 2011), Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives (U of Virginia P, 2010), and J.M. Coetzee and the Idea of the Public Intellectual (Ohio UP, 2006).
Western Carolina University has been recognized for its commitment to energy conservation and received the Utility Savings Initiative Leadership Award on June 11, 2012 for being the first university in the University of North Carolina system to reduce energy consumption by 30% since the 2002-2003 academic year. A press release is here: http://news-prod.wcu.edu/2012/07/state-recognizes-wcu-for-its-energy-reduction-efforts/
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, the birthplace of Earth Day and has been the home to John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Sigurd Olson, offers an environmentally progressive community in a picturesque and ecologically diverse region. Current English faculty with interests in environmental studies include Lynn Keller (poetry and ecocriticism); Theresa Kelley (botany and the history of science in British Romantic culture); Rob Nixon (environmentalism and colonialism); Tom Schaub (rhetorics of nature in American literature); and Jeffrey Steele (19th C. urban writing and theories of space). A required Ph.D. minor provides structure for interdisciplinary work, fostered by the Nelson Institute (http://www.ies.wisc.edu/), the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (http://che.nelson.wisc.edu/index.shtml), and a wide range of other courses taught by such noted scholars as William Cronon and Michael Bell.
West Virginia University
The English Department at West Virginia University provides a collegial environment for advanced academic work in literary and cultural studies, as well as creative and professional writing. Several of our faculty members engage in environmentally-oriented research, pedagogy, and creative writing, including Timothy Sweet, Lowell Duckert, Julia Daniel, Cari Carpenter, Brian Ballentine, and Mark Brazaitis. Our diverse interests and expertise include environmental literature, travel narratives, urban ecocriticism, ecopoetics, animal studies and hunting narratives, georgic and agrarian literature, environmental justice, literary cartography, environmental criticism, ecological theory, ecocomposition, and the rhetorics of energy and global warming. students meet with local and regional environmental organizations, witnessing at-risk sites firsthand to consider the ways in which literature can influence current policy.
Because of our low graduate student to faculty ratio (3:1), you will receive attentive mentoring and instruction, as well as tailored support during your time on the job market. A sample of graduate-level coursework that has incorporated green themes or theories includes “Science and Public Culture in Early America,” “Current Directions in Literary Studies: Environmental Criticism,” “Nature’s Nation,” and “The Shadow,” a creative writing course which explored the shadow-side of human progress. In the classroom, you will have the opportunity to place your studies into conversation with current environmental issues. For example, in “Elemental Shakespeare,” students met with local and regional environmental organizations, witnessing at-risk sites firsthand to consider the ways in which literature can influence current policy. Our graduate students go on to complete compelling, ecologically engaged projects, such as dissertations like “Second natures: media, masculinity and the natural world in twentieth-century American literature and film,” or “‘To build, and plant, and keep a table’: class, gender, and the ideology of improvement in eighteenth-century women's literature.” We welcome you to visit us in Morgantown and learn more about our program: http://english.wvu.edu/gr
York University—Toronto, Canada
The Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University is the oldest Environmental Studies program in Canada and supports interdisciplinary, individually-designed programs of graduate study at both the Masters/Magisteriate and Doctoral levels in fields across the Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. One of the Faculty’s particular areas of strength is cultural studies of the environment, including environmental philosophy, literary criticism, creative writing, performing and visual arts, animal studies, indigenous studies, spirituality and critical theory. Students choose from a wide range of course offerings both inside the Faculty and in other programs at York (e.g., English, Fine Arts, Social and Political Thought); they are also encouraged to create programs of reading and other activities that support their chosen educational goals.
FES Faculty in environmental cultural studies, ecocriticism and cognate fields include Deborah Barndt (popular education, photography and visual arts, postcolonialism and cultural studies); Mora Campbell (environmental ethics and philosophy, spirituality); Robin Cavanagh; (indigenous research methodologies and epistemomologies, education); Leesa Fawcett (animal studies, environmental education, gender and environments); Honor Ford-Smith (performance studies, community and environmental arts and Education); Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands (environmental cultural studies, environmental writing and literature, critical theory); Raymond Rogers (biological conservation, cultural studies); Joe Sheridan (environmental and sustainability education, environmental thought and First Nations traditions); P