A Dozen Books by Environmental Humanities Program Faculty
Environmental Humanities affiliated faculty have authored and edited books on a diverse array of subjects, from literature and history to communication and environmental activism. This selection of faculty books shows the depth and breadth of research and writing done by scholars affiliated with our Program.
Seven Summers: A Naturalist Homesteads in the Modern West
“Seven Summers is the story of a naturalist-turned-professor who flees city life each summer with her pets and power tools to pursue her lifelong dream—building a cabin in the Wyoming woods. With little money and even less experience, she learns that creating a sanctuary on her mountain meadow requires ample doses of faith, patience, and luck. This mighty task also involves a gradual and sometimes painful acquisition of flexibility and humility in the midst of great determination and naive enthusiasm.
“For Corbett, homesteading is not about wresting a living from the land, but respecting and immersing herself in it—observing owls and cranes, witnessing seasons and cycles, and learning the rhythms of wind and weather in her woods and meadow. The process changes her in unexpected ways, just as it did for women homesteaders more than a century ago. The more she works with wood, the more she understands the importance of “going with the grain” in wood as well as in life. She must learn to let go, to move through loss and grief, to trust her voice, and to balance independence and dependence. Corbett also gains a better understanding of her fellow Wyomingites, a mix of ranchers, builders, gas workers, and developers, who share a love of place but often hold decidedly different values. This beautifully written memoir will appeal to readers who appreciate stories of the western landscape, independent women, or the appreciation of the natural world.”
University of Utah Press
Communicating Nature: How We Create and Understand Environmental Messages
“A broader and more comprehensive understanding of how we communicate with each other about the natural world and our relationship to it is essential to solving environmental problems. How do individuals develop beliefs and ideologies about the environment? How do we express those beliefs through communication? How are we influenced by the messages of pop culture and social institutions? And how does all this communication become part of the larger social fabric of what we know as "the environment"? Communicating Nature explores and explains the multiple levels of everyday communication that come together to form our perceptions of the natural world. Author Julia Corbett considers all levels of communication, from communication at the individual level, to environmental messages transmitted by popular culture, to communication generated by social institutions including political and regulatory agencies, business and corporations, media outlets, and educational organizations.”
Contact: Mountain Climbing and Environmental Thinking
Edited by Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy
“Contact collects new and classic first-person climbing stories from North America’s best-known climbers and writers. Mountain climbers are important but overlooked commentators on the environment, and this collection of alpine adventures demonstrates the relationship between climbers and nature both for a popular audience and for academics working in the field of environmental literature. Contributors include Gary Snyder, John Daniel, Chris McNamara, and Greg Child.”
University of Nevada Press
Green Modernism: Nature and the English Novel, 1900 - 1930
Jeffrey Mathes McCarthy
“One of the first studies to explore the relationship between environmental criticism and British modernism, Green Modernism explores the cultural function of nature in the modernist novel between 1900 and 1930. This theoretically engaged, historically informed book brings new materialist insights to novels by Conrad, Ford, Lawrence, and Butts.”
The Tragedy of the Commodity: Oceans, Fisheries, and Aquaculture
Brett Clark (with Stefano B. Longo and Rebecca Clausen)
“Although humans have long depended on oceans and aquatic ecosystems for sustenance and trade, only recently has human influence on these resources dramatically increased, transforming and undermining oceanic environments throughout the world. Marine ecosystems are in a crisis that is global in scope, rapid in pace, and colossal in scale. In The Tragedy of the Commodity, sociologists Stefano B. Longo, Rebecca Clausen, and Brett Clark explore the role human influence plays in this crisis, highlighting the social and economic forces that are at the heart of this looming ecological problem.
“In a critique of the classic theory ‘the tragedy of the commons’ by ecologist Garrett Hardin, the authors move beyond simplistic explanations—such as unrestrained self-interest or population growth—to argue that it is the commodification of aquatic resources that leads to the depletion of fisheries and the development of environmentally suspect means of aquaculture. To illustrate this argument, the book features two fascinating case studies—the thousand-year history of the bluefin tuna fishery in the Mediterranean and the massive Pacific salmon fishery. Longo, Clausen, and Clark describe how new fishing technologies, transformations in ships and storage capacities, and the expansion of seafood markets combined to alter radically and permanently these crucial ecosystems. In doing so, the authors underscore how the particular organization of social production contributes to ecological degradation and an increase in the pressures placed upon the ocean. The authors highlight the historical, political, economic, and cultural forces that shape how we interact with the larger biophysical world. A path-breaking analysis of overfishing, The Tragedy of the Commodity yields insight into issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, pollution, and climate change.”
Winner of the 2017 Paul Sweezy Marxist Sociology Book Award from the American Sociological Association
Rutgers University Press
The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth
Brett Clark (with John Bellamy Foster and Richard York)
“Humanity in the twenty-first century is facing what might be described as its ultimate environmental catastrophe: the destruction of the climate that has nurtured human civilization and with it the basis of life on earth as we know it. All ecosystems on the planet are now in decline. Enormous rifts have been driven through the delicate fabric of the biosphere. The economy and the earth are headed for a fateful collision—if we don’t alter course.
“In The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth, environmental sociologists John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York offer a radical assessment of both the problem and the solution. They argue that the source of our ecological crisis lies in the paradox of wealth in capitalist society, which expands individual riches at the expense of public wealth, including the wealth of nature. In the process, a huge ecological rift is driven between human beings and nature, undermining the conditions of sustainable existence: a rift in the metabolic relation between humanity and nature that is irreparable within capitalist society, since integral to its very laws of motion.
“Critically examining the sanguine arguments of mainstream economists and technologists, Foster, Clark, and York insist instead that fundamental changes in social relations must occur if the ecological (and social) problems presently facing us are to be transcended. Their analysis relies on the development of a deep dialectical naturalism concerned with issues of ecology and evolution and their interaction with the economy. Importantly, they offer reasons for revolutionary hope in moving beyond the regime of capital and toward a society of sustainable human development.”
Winner of the 2010 Gerald L. Young Book Award, bestowed by the Society for Human Ecology
Monthly Review Press
In the Remington Moment
“For most people, the work of Frederic Remington conjures an antiquarian world of all things “western.” Why this is so, and whether it should be so, are two of the critical questions raised in this book. Stephen Tatum closely considers selected paintings from Remington’s last four years of life—his so-called years of critical acclaim. Tatum’s purpose is twofold: first, to understand these paintings, both formally and thematically, within their historical, aesthetic, and biographical contexts; and second, to account for what endows them today—after marking the centennial of Remington’s death in 1909—with continuing aesthetic and cultural significance.
“To this end, Tatum examines these late paintings in relation to Remington’s other works, his letters and published writings, his evolving critical reception, and the writing and artwork of other cultural figures of the era, such as historian Frederick Jackson Turner and sociologist Georg Simmel. The book provides an illuminating glimpse of how and why particular Remington works might seize a viewer’s attention in his or her past or present moment of reception—how in fact their unstable visual complexity can ultimately absorb their viewer. In his ‘Coda,’ Tatum offers a personal memoir of his own encounter with Remington’s The Love Call, a critical meditation enacting and questioning the ‘Remington Moment.’”
University of Nebraska Press
Morta Las Vegas: CSI and the Problem of the West
Stephen Tatum (with Nathaniel Lewis)
“Through all its transformations and reinventions over the past century, ‘Sin City’ has consistently been regarded by artists and cultural critics as expressing in purest form, for better or worse, an aesthetic and social order spawned by neon signs and institutionalized indulgence. In other words, Las Vegas provides a codex with which to confront the problems of the West and to track the people, materials, ideas, and virtual images that constitute postregional space.
“Morta Las Vegas considers Las Vegas and the problem of regional identity in the American West through a case study of a single episode of the television crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Delving deep into the interwoven events of the episode titled ‘4 × 4,’ but resisting a linear, logical case-study approach, the authors draw connections between the city—a layered and complex world—and the violent, uncanny mysteries of a crime scene. Morta Las Vegas reveals nuanced issues characterizing the emergence of a postregional West, moving back and forth between a geographical and a procedural site and into a place both in between and beyond Western identity.”
University of Nebraska Press
Ghost Dances and Identity: Prophetic Religion and American Indian Ethnogenesis in the Nineteenth Century
“This innovative cultural history examines wide-ranging issues of religion, politics, and identity through an analysis of the American Indian Ghost Dance movement and its significance for two little-studied tribes: the Shoshones and Bannocks. The Ghost Dance has become a metaphor for the death of American Indian culture, but as Gregory Smoak argues, it was not the desperate fantasy of a dying people but a powerful expression of a racialized ‘Indianness.’ While the Ghost Dance did appeal to supernatural forces to restore power to native peoples, on another level it became a vehicle for the expression of meaningful social identities that crossed ethnic, tribal, and historical boundaries. Looking closely at the Ghost Dances of 1870 and 1890, Smoak constructs a far-reaching, new argument about the formation of ethnic and racial identity among American Indians. He examines the origins of Shoshone and Bannock ethnicity, follows these peoples through a period of declining autonomy vis-a-vis the United States government, and finally puts their experience and the Ghost Dances within the larger context of identity formation and emerging nationalism which marked United States history in the nineteenth century.”
University of California Press
Social Movement to Address Climate Change: Local Steps for Global Action
Edited by Danielle Endres (with Leah Sprain and Tarla Rai Peterson)
“Climate change is one of the most significant environmental issues of our time. As is the case for the environmental movement in general, social activism is a crucial venue in which to advocate for policies to slow global warming and mitigate the effects of climate change. Recently, several campaigns have emerged within a global effort to create a climate change social movement. Step It Up is one such campaign. …. This edited volume is the culmination of a national research project on the Step It Up campaign that examines the strategic aspects of constructing social movements and campaigns. Chapter authors attended seventeen local SIU actions in eight states. Using participant observation, interviewing, and rhetorical analysis, the chapters in this volume contribute to our understanding of rhetorical framing, modes of organizing, and practices of citizenship for contemporary social movements. This unique approach to studying a campaign as it happened yields important insights for both scholars and social movement practitioners.”
Winner of the Christine L. Oravec Award in Environmental Communication
Participatory Critical Rhetoric: Theoretical and Methodological Foundations for Studying Rhetoric In Situ
Danielle Endres (with Michael Middleton, Aaron Hess, and Samantha Senda-Cook)
“Increasingly, rhetorical scholars are using fieldwork and other ethnographic, performance, and qualitative methods to access, document, and analyze forms of everyday in situ rhetoric rather than using already documented texts. In this book, the authors argue that participatory critical rhetoric, as an approach to in situ rhetoric, is a theoretically, methodologically, and praxiologically robust approach to critical rhetorical studies. This book addresses how participatory critical rhetoric furthers understanding of the significant role that rhetoric plays in everyday life through expanding the archive of rhetorical practices and texts, emplacing rhetorical critics in direct conversation with rhetors and audiences at the moment of rhetorical invention, and highlighting marginalized voices that might otherwise go unnoticed. …. In addition to laying the groundwork and advocating for the approach, Participatory Critical Rhetoric also offers significant contributions to rhetorical theory and criticism more broadly by revisiting the field’s understanding of core topics such as role of the critic, text/context, audience, rhetorical effect, and the purpose of criticism. Further, it enhances theoretical conversations about material rhetoric, place/space, affect, intersectional rhetoric, embodiment, and rhetorical reflexivity.”
Image Politics: The New Rhetoric of Environmental Activism
“This exceptional volume examines ‘image events’ as a rhetorical tactic utilized by environmental activists. Author Kevin Michael DeLuca analyzes widely televised environmentalist actions in depth to illustrate how the image event fulfills fundamental rhetorical functions in constructing and transforming identities, discourses, communities, cultures, and world views. Image Politics also exhibits how such events create opportunities for a politics that does not rely on centralized leadership or universal metanarratives. The book presents a rhetoric of the visual for our mediated age as it illuminates new political possibilities currently enacted by radical environmental groups.”