Students are active members of ASLE and they contribute to the association in many ways. There are numerous benefits for our student members:
ASLE welcomes the participation of undergraduate students, many of whom are learning and conducting research under the guidance of ASLE members. In fact many ASLE members are on the faculty of department in the humanities and sciences in colleges that focus exclusively on undergraduate education.
Graduate students have always been at the center of ASLE. Graduate students have joined experienced teachers and scholars in building ASLE, compiling reading lists, syllabi and a “Where to Study” list of institutions with graduate programs in the environmental humanities.
This past year I completed my dissertation, “The Medieval Green Age: Environmentalism and English Literature in the Middle Ages,” an examination of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English depictions of environmental awareness in poetry, and joined the ranks of the beleaguered academic job seekers. 2013-2014 was considered a “good” year for Medievalists on the market. I applied to thirty-four positions and was one of the fortunate ones who received attention from a number of schools, and in the end had two job offers. I feel that the focus of my research, particularly my dissertation, helped me immensely in getting that attention. The majority of the positions to which I applied were listed as “Pre-1800 British Literature.” But in the job interviews my expertise in ecocriticism and environmental literature was attractive to search committees. The interdisciplinary edge to my work allows me to contribute to green conversations and initiatives that many colleges have recently started.
My interest in ecocriticism began years ago, when I took a class at the University of Kansas with Byron Caminero-Santangelo. He encouraged me to join ASLE and attend the 2011 conference in Bloomington, Indiana, where I presented “Green Boundaries: Displacement and the Non-Human in British Literature, from Medieval Monsters to Tolkien’s Elves,” and the 2013 conference in Lawrence, Kansas, where I presented “Nanesmonnesland: No-man’s-land, Monstrous Boundaries, and the Figure of the Hybrid in Beowulf.” As I prepare to start my new job this fall as an assistant professor at Kent State University at Stark, I am very thankful that I took the green way.
Ann Martinez is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Kent State University at Stark.