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

 

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RESEARCH

My interdisciplinary scholarship pursues the environmental humanities. More particularly, I explore how people have understood and expressed their interconnectedness with the material world. My analyses take me to the nineteenth-century emergence of professional science; the transatlantic aesthetics informing national landscapes; and the various forms of power and oppression now manifest in our landscapes. My research takes me to archives and through scholarship in various fields, including art history, philosophy, and ecology. It also takes me into physical landscapes, particularly those of New England and the Susquehanna River valley. I frequently collaborate with students in my research, pursuing these issues as they shape both our immediate and our global communities.

 

I have co-edited four volumes: two collections of scholarly essays, and two editions of writings by the nineteenth-century naturalist, Susan Fenimore Cooper (1813-1894). While my authored publications have examined a range of figures, Henry David Thoreau and his nineteenth-century contemporaries have been a focal point. My first monograph, Passions for Nature: Nineteenth-Century America’s Aesthetics of Alienation (U of Georgia, 2009), centers on Susan Fenimore Cooper, an increasingly recognized writer who made key contributions to the rise of environmental thought in the United States. My book examines Cooper's groundbreaking arguments toward the emergence of national environmental consciousness and demonstrates the specific aesthetic contexts of her work, which included landscape art, landscape design theory, and the rise of professional science.

 

My recent lectures and essays pursue the emergence of environmental-justice concerns in nineteenth-century natural history and the transatlantic professionalization of science. I am also collaborating with my students, as well as with colleagues and students at Bucknell University and SUNY-Oneonta, on a project that seeks to develop the digital environmental-humanities: an interactive, digital edition of Cooper’s Rural Hours (1850). My second monograph, now underway, will serve as the first scholarly biography of S. F. Cooper. This project is informed by over a decade of research in thirty-five archives across the U.S. and Europe and has been supported by fellowships from various organizations, including the American Antiquarian Society, the Idaho Humanities Council, and  the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

BOOKS TO WHICH I HAVE CONTRIBUTED