ABOUT ME

I am Professor of English & Environmental Studies at the College of Idaho, where I teach courses in early American literature, material culture, and the environmental humanities. I also teach for the Bread Loaf School of English, a graduate program at Middlebury College. I have authored and edited five books, written over a dozen articles and book chapters, and contributed to documentary films. A past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), I have served the boards of other literary organizations, including the Society for the Study of American Women Writers and The James Fenimore Cooper Society. I currently serve on the board of The Thoreau Society. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement for Teaching honored me with the Idaho Professor of the Year award. In support of my research, I have received several fellowships, including from the Idaho Humanities Council, Yale University's Beinecke Library, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

CONTACT & CV

Depts. of English & Environmental Studies

The College of Idaho

2112 Cleveland Blvd.

Caldwell, ID 83703

(208) 459-5894 (office)

email: rjohnson@collegeofidaho.edu

 

Click for CV:

BIOGRAPHY

After growing up in the forests and meadows of my native New England, I now live in the stunning sage-brush steppe of southwestern Idaho. I studied at Bates College (B.A., English, 1990) and then worked for two years in the health insurance industry in Cambridge, learning, in addition to the “9-to-5” commuter lifestyle, that an English major‘s skills in analytical thinking, precise expression, and conceptual organization are deeply valued in the business world. I then went west to Claremont Graduate University (M.A., Ph.D., 1999), where I studied American literature and benefited from taking courses in environmental history.

 

In the 1990’s, the field now known as the “environmental humanities” was emerging. I was fortunate to enter the profession just as the field was taking off: ASLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, formed and then held the first conferences on literature and the environment. Thanks to supportive mentors and encouraging professors, I focused my dissertation on a historicized reading of the cultural work performed by nineteenth-century natural history. The theoretical foundations of my work have evolved over the years: I first pursued theories of discourse, power, and ecocriticism, and I now pursue the new materialism, or theories of perception, objects, and corporeality.

 

I share my work with public audiences as frequently as possible, because I value that my academic scholarship has real-world relevance in our politically and environmentally challenged age. On a more personal note, I enjoy yoga, gardening, and running.

MY GOAL

Landscapes express their histories, and I seek to understand how various forms of cultural expression reveal and transform the material world.

“The mind – the culture – has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel. With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world’s work. With these we try to save our very lives.”

– Annie Dillard