My teaching includes interdisciplinary courses in Environmental Studies at the introductory and senior-capstone levels,  as well as courses on environmental literature, the literatures of slavery, the American Renaissance, and early American literature.  I also teach First-Year Seminars that engage in interdisciplinary material-cultural studies and include a digital-humanities component. I believe in the powers of deep and democratic discussion, close reading, and faculty-student research. Some of my courses have involved travelling with students abroad or domestically, and others have included project-based and community-engaged pedagogies. Such courses have focused on dirt and regional soil fertility, on environmental justice in the community, and on the production of a collaboratively-written natural history of our region, titled Rediscovering Indian Creek. My main goal in the classroom is to foster rigorous, compassionate, and vibrant analyses of human experience. I teach in order to help students be engaged, informed citizens who realize their individual abilities to challenge injustice and thoughtfully shape society and the planet.


Select courses I have taught:


ENV 200: Nature and Culture: An Introduction to Environmental Studies

ENV 402: Senior Capstone Seminar in Environmental Studies

ENG 232: Literatures of Slavery (ca. 1700-1865)

ENG 239: Visions of Environment (literary and environmental history of the U.S.)

ENG 280: Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism

ENG 329: Inventing America (transoceanic encounter to 1865)

ENG 335: American Renaissance (and “beneath” the American Renaissance)

ENG 344: Author Seminar: Thoreau (his writings amid cultural and intellectual history)

ENG 490: Literary Research Practicum (intensive seminar in archival and literary research)

FYS 110: First-Year Seminar

My honors First-Year Seminar at College of Idaho focuses on material culture. For one assignment, students research a museum specimen and produce an oral presentation for a museum audience, a fully researched essay, a digital exhibit, and an exhibit.


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.


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:


In Washington, DC, receiving Carnegie Foundation Professor of the Year Award