Environmental History / Literature
Environmental History refers to the history of the environmental movement - its noted figures, important legislation, and impacts. Environmental Literature is, well, literature that incorporates environmental themes into traditional or non-traditional forms of writing.
The field is important because history and literature give us an important sense of how we got here and where we are going. From Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Thoreau's Walden to today's concepts of interconnected ecology, eco-feminism, and environmental justice, the environmental movement is a vast and interesting field. History and literature help to put the many issues in environmentalism into context.
The Academic Requirements
There are very few academic programs devoted solely to Environmental History / Literature - instead, the field is often found as a class within other majors, such as environmental studies, English writing and literature, or history. Students interested in the field should take a variety of environmental and writing classes.
Graduate students may have better luck tailoring their degree program towards Environmental History / Literature.
Here are some courses that we've seen:
- Creative Writing
- Contemporary Environmental Fiction
- Ecofeminist Literature
- Major American Writers
- Wilderness and Literature
- Nature Writing
- Advocacy in Environmental Writing
- Theorizing Ecocriticism
- Exploration, Colonialism and the 18th Century
- The Natural History of Modernism
The competition for jobs as a "writer" is fierce, and it is a challenging field to break into. Many writers start out writing for local magazines, newspapers, and websites. If you are trying to get into the field, try sending a few short pieces to environmental magazines and online magazines to get some publicity and recognition.
History majors can be writers, professors, museum curators, researchers, consultants…historians work behind the scenes in script-writing, historical reenactments, and more. Some historians are biographers, going "behind the scenes" to help us understand an important figure in the environmental movement.
Environmental Literature is related to Environmental Journalism/Communications as well as Scientific Journalism. Read more about Environmental Journalism and Communications here.
Here are some job titles that we've seen, including some of the organizations that offer them, all of which included a requirement for experience in Environmental History / Literature:
- Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Culture, emphasis on the environment in a global context (Colorado School of Mines)
- Assistant Professor of Creative Writing/English (Eastern Washington University)
- Editor-in-Chief (The Writings of Henry David Thoreau Project)
- Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh)
- Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment
- ASLE Jobs Page
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Social Scientists, Other
- Bureau of Labor Statistics; Writers and Editors
- Chatham College, Environmental Studies Program, Concentration in Literature and Writing
- Environment Writer
- h-Environment, website for the American and European Societies for Environmental History
- Forest History Society
- University of Stirling / University of St. Andrews, AHRB Research Centre for Environmental History