Vision & History

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE) seeks to inspire and promote intellectual work in the environmental humanities and arts. Our vision is an inclusive community whose members are committed to environmental research, education, literature, art and service, environmental justice, and ecological sustainability.

ASLE was founded in 1992 by a group of scholars and writers interested in exploring the meanings of the natural environment and the complexities of human relationships with each other, and with the more-than-human world, and to deepening the impact of these explorations both within and beyond the classroom. While ecocritical teaching and scholarship developed in literary and cultural studies, our members include writers and educators who also work in interdisciplinary fields such as ecology, conservation biology, environmental history, environmental philosophy, and environmental law.

For more than twenty years ASLE has supported the intellectual work of its members around the world. The formation of ASLE-Japan in 1994 signaled an international orientation that continues in our many active affiliates in countries around the world today. Our 1450 members from more than 30 countries represent a wide range of institutions, fields, and interests and connect with one another to organize lectures, readings, and conference panels and to collaborate on projects and initiatives. Because ASLE defines the environmental humanities as global in scope, our members are actively facilitating intellectual exchange and collaboration with colleagues and professional organizations around the world.

Since 1993 ASLE’s biennial conference routinely features creative panels and plenary speakers. In fact several of ASLE’s honorary members—including Homero and Betty Aridjis, Wendell Berry, Linda Hogan, Mary Oliver, Ruth Ozeki, Scott Russell Sanders, and Gary Snyder—are creative writers. In addition, we sponsor symposia in our non-conference years, provide member and community grants, and make book and paper awards during biennial conference years. The work of our members is featured in the peer-reviewed academic journal ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment that we publish quarterly through Oxford University Press. Each issue of ISLE publishes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction alongside scholarly articles. The association’s longstanding commitment to supporting artists and scholars remains one of its greatest strengths.

Today ASLE is a vibrant international community of scholars and teachers working across the humanities and arts, representing a variety of disciplines including literature, history, philosophy, environmental studies, cultural geography, film and media, cultural studies, women and gender studies, religious studies, ethnography, psychology, and anthropology. ASLE members also engage in their local, regional, and international communities through the humanities and collaborate with individuals and institutions through public programming and outreach.