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.
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