My scholarly work incorporates my dual training in literary studies and the environmental humanities. I'm fascinated by the challenge of addressing major environmental crises (like climate change and species extinction) without losing sight of certain basic human needs: durable social relationships, feelings of fulfillment and security, and a sense of agency in place-making. This challenge becomes especially difficult when we also consider the uneven exploitation of the environment by people from different geographic, socioeconomic, and/or racial backgrounds, and the very real necessity to alter fundamental systems of consumption if we are to make measurable change. I analyze American literature from the last century or so to help animate and confront this challenge.
My dissertation, entitled Counter-Love: The Social Dimensions of Environmental Attachment in Twentieth-Century American Literature, considers how social relationships might offer the basic psychological tools for countering the affective and psychological impacts of recent environmental crises. By reading a group of major American writers, including Robert Frost, Don DeLillo, Joan Didion, and Peter Matthiessen, I identify three place-based social practices--bounding, loving, and pausing--which I then mobilize as my critical categories across three chapters. Each practice, I demonstrate, encompasses the negotiation of intimate relationships, the pursuit of psychological fulfillment, and the site-specific impact of environmental context. Further, each practice reveals incipient environmental attachment emerging despite various situations of threat, anxiety, and disturbance--suggesting a precious link between how we sustain our interpersonal relationships and how we sustain our relationships with the nonhuman world.
You can access an article extracted from my dissertation in the Writing section of this website.