Professor Mary Beth Mills
Mary Beth Mills is a cultural anthropologist. Her research and teaching address a variety of topics relevant to the environmental humanities. Much of her work focuses on the changing lives and livelihoods of agricultural producers in globalizing Asia, especially Thailand, including the contemporary effects of large-scale rural-urban labor migration and the shifts these entails for household and gender relations. Currently her research explores processes of globalization through the lens of food with special attention to culinary tourism and the global mobility of Thai cuisine. Some of the courses she teaches that address environmental humanities topics include: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology; Land, Food, Culture, Power; and the Anthropology of Food.
Visiting Assistant Professor Amanda Lilleston
Amanda Lilleston’s artwork depicts a long and evolving relationship with human anatomy, physiology, and ecology. Lilleston explores interconnected systems of biology and physiology where she visualizes environmental pressures, toxins, and stressors impacting the ecosystem in equal force as it impacts human biology. She integrates human beings into the larger ecosystem by collaging prints of organs, tissues, and other human anatomy into botanical or zoological forms. Her work as an artist explores the mutuality between the world and the bodies it continually shapes. In the classroom, Lilleston encourages students to tap into their intellectual passions outside of studio art to fuel their creative work. She believes a liberal arts education is the best place for nurturing interdisciplinary creativity.
Assistant Professor James Taylor
James Taylor’s research and teaching interests span a wide variety of genres and time periods in classical antiquity, embracing texts as diverse as Aristotle’s Meteorologica and Ovid’s Metamorphoses and drawing upon interpretative frameworks from the history of science, environmental criticism, and the philosophy of history. His current book project investigates how the observation of geological processes led classical authors to imagine much deeper timescales than those made possible by the shallow reach of recorded history and collective memory. Its central argument is that this deeper, geologic time exercised a disruptive influence within classical thought, in so far as its vast timescales completely dwarfed the narrow bounds of a human life or even of a community’s existence. His second book project explores the concept of the Anthropocene and its applicability to the ancient Roman imagining of their own environmental impact.
Professor Michael D. Burke
Michael Burke’s interest in the Environmental Humanities began in 1999, when he participated in the first Integrated Semester Program on the environment at Colby. He has organized an ASLE conference on Maine’s Place in the Environmental Imagination (from which an edited volume of the same title came), and regularly writes on the human-nonhuman relationship. His teaching includes Environmental Writing and an experimental creative nonfiction course titled “Coming of Age in the Anthropocene.” He has developed an interest in eco-theatre and recently completed a three act play on climate change.
Assistant Professor Sanval Nasim
Before teaching at Colby, Sanval Nasim was an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan. Nasim holds a PhD in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics and Policy from the University of California, Riverside in 2015, and holds his undergraduate degree from Colby college in Economics-Mathematics and in History. Nasim serves as a research fellow at the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan, the Institute of Development and Economic Alternatives, the Mahbub ul Haq Research Centre, and the Center for Water Informatics and Technology. His work centers around citizens’ behavior in response to deteriorating environmental quality in developing countries as well as state capacity in developing countries and how it relates to provision of public goods. Nasim’s work has found a place in journals such as the Journal of Public Economics and Resource and Energy Economics. To support his research, Nasim has raised funds close to $300,000 through grants from organizations such as the International Growth Center, the International Food and Policy Research Institute, and the United Nations Development Programme.
Assistant Professor Chris Walker
Christopher Allen Walker joined the Colby faculty in 2017 as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Humanities and joined the English Department as an Assistant Professor in 2020. Chris holds a JD from Columbia University and a PhD in English with a certificate in Environment and Society from the University of California, Santa Barbara. In his time at Colby, Chris has played a crucial role in inspiring students and faculty alike to engage with the Environmental Humanities. It is a mark of his success as a teacher that many of his students first learned about and fell in love with EH in his classes, and now form the greater part of the EH Student Advisory Board. Chris has also played a key role in developing the EH faculty seminar and the Colby Summer Institute in Environmental Humanities. His research is centrally concerned with how literature, art, and film afford new understandings of environmental change. In his current book project, Narratives of Decay: Environmental Change and Speculative Form, Chris explores an archive of 20th-century of literature, art, and science to argue that the discovery new types of material decay–from radioactive half-life to ozone depletion–prompted the development of new methods for speculative about environmental futures.
Assistant Professor Dyani Johns Taff
Dyani Taff came to Colby from Ithaca College and to Ithaca from Davis, California where she developed an interest in maritime figures—like John Milton’s Satan who crosses Chaos with wings like sails and washes up to assault Adam and Eve in Eden—during her graduate work. That interest spawned her first book, Gendered Seascapes and Monarchy in Early Modern English Culture, which examines gender, political power, and the maritime environment as represented in English cultural texts from the 16th and 17th centuries. She is developing a second project on the afterlives of the sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis that will examine the entanglement of notions about race, gender, and monstrosity with notions about environments. She teaches courses in early modern literature and culture as well as topics-based courses on environments, natures, bodies (of water), performance, migration, islands and more; she asks students to examine the long histories of race, gender/sexuality, class, place, and ability-based prejudices through discussion of early modern texts.
Professor Philip Nyhus
Philip Nyhus’ interdisciplinary research bridges the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to address human interactions with the environment. He is particularly interested in large mammal conservation, large landscape conservation, and human-wildlife conflict. He has published over 50 papers, chapters, and scholarly reports and has been interviewed by diverse media outlets, including National Geographic, New York Times, Time and the Animal Planet channel. He has participated in a range of environmental humanities initiatives at Colby, including the Faculty Seminar in Environmental Humanities; co-teaching Colby’s Environmental Studies gateway course with Dr. Chris Walker, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Environmental Humanities and now Assistant Professor of English, and others; and co-organizing the Community, Culture, and Conservation: Sustaining Landscapes and Livelihoods conference.
Professor Bénédicte Mauguière
Bénédicte Mauguière holds a Ph.D in Francophone cultures and Literature from the Université Paris IV-Sorbonne. Her interest in Environmental Humanities started with her doctoral research on Gender and the Poetics of space in Francophone Literatures. She has published numerous articles in books and scholarly journals in the US, Canada, France, Belgium, Italy, India and Mauritius. Her research focuses on how bodies of water (lakes, rivers or oceans) are used as metaphors of power struggles (especially related to gender and race) in the literary imagination of minority, indigenous and creole communities across the Americas, the Pacific and Indian Ocean islands. She has presented her research at international conferences such as STREAMS-Transformative Environmental Humanities.. She has contributed to several Environmental Humanities seminars including the EH New England Consortium of Universities and the Faculty Seminar in Environmental Humanities. She has also developed courses, Digital Humanities labs and sessions at CLAS with a focus on climate change and renewable energies in the Indian Ocean.
Assistant Professor Carl Cornell
Carl Cornell is a teacher-scholar of modern and contemporary France who works at the intersection of French culture studies, urban studies, and the environmental humanities. He is studying how cities are using cultural initiatives to create livable public spaces in the wake of deindustrialization and climate change. He is currently writing a book, entitled Recycling Industry: The Livable French City Today, in which he examines how cities across France are reworking their industrial and commercial past into the basis for a dynamic sense of place and a renewed local identity via cultural events and institutions. This topic serves as the foundation for a course that he has designed, entitled “Sustainable Development in/of the French-Speaking World,” that considers how cities from throughout the Francophone world are enacting solutions for sustainable development while grappling with such challenges as the legacies of imperialism, fraught relations with indigenous peoples, and other social inequalities. Finally, he incorporates creative writing, artistic production, and the digital humanities in my classes as avenues for exploring new and different ways of thinking about humans’ interactions with the natural world.
Visiting Assistant Professor Danae Jacobson
Danae Jacobson’s teaching and research are animated by the belief that history is vital to make sense of our world today. In her research, she examines the interplays of the environment, gender, race, and religion in settler colonial efforts in the U.S. West. In her teaching, she introduces students to the many ways history shapes the nations we live in, the communities we relate within, and the ecosystems we depend on. She loves inviting students to query how how our stories of the past change when we include microbes, pigs, and the climate, alongside more typical subjects like presidents, wars, and ideas. She hopes students in her environmental history classes learn to appreciate the ways nature is constructed, how ideas about it have changed over time, how it surrounds us, nourishes us, has been used to justify violence and racism, and how we cannot separate ourselves from nature.
Assistant Professor Danila Cannamela
Danila Cannamela’s first book The Quiet Avant-Garde: Crepuscular Poetry and the Twilight of Modern Humanism (2019) locates the crepuscular poetics of the object in relation to the futurist avant-garde and as a precursory discourse on the posthuman. Her research interests are at the crossroads of environmental humanities, genderstudies, and Italian literature and culture. She is currently working on a new book-length project that explores the pastoral genre as a “comfort food recipe,” whose simple ingredientshave inspired sophisticated “cooking techniques” and contemporary reinventions. She is also conducting research on how contemporary sci-fi has represented the motif of love in relation to environmental concerns.
Latin American Literature
Allen Family Professor Luis Millones
Luis Millones’s research and teaching interest in Environmental Humanities are mainly in three areas: colonial Latin America (particularly in natural histories of the New World written by Jesuits); Native American lore (particularly in Andean and Meso–American societies from pre-Columbian time to the present); and contemporary fiction and film (particularly those featuring non-human beings). Courses he offers in Environmental Humanities include: Eco Fiction & Eco Thought, Non-human beings in Native American Lore, Environmental Knowledge, and Imperialism & Resistance.
Associate Professor Keith Peterson
Keith Peterson teaches introductory and advanced courses in environmental philosophy, including Environmental Ethics and Radical Ecologies, conducts research in environmental philosophy and environmental humanities, and published A World Not Made for Us: Topics in Critical Environmental Philosophy in 2020. In the book, he provides a broad reassessment of the field of environmental philosophy, taking a fresh and critical look at three classical problems of environmentalism: the intrinsic value of nature, the need for an ecological worldview, and a new conception of the place of humankind in nature. He makes the case that a genuinely critical environmental philosophy must adopt an ecological materialist conception of the human, a pluralistic value theory that emphasizes the need for value prioritization, and an ontology that affirms the basic principle of human dependence on more-than-human nature. For three years, he led the Faculty Seminar in Environmental Humanities, which set an institutional precedent for interdisciplinary dialogue, collaboration, and EH program development. You can find more information at his web page (http://web.colby.edu/krpeters/).
Crawford Family Professor and Chair Nikky Singh
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh’s wide-ranging teaching and scholarship in South Asian religions is intrinsically grounded in biophilia—going beyond divisive mind-body, sacred-secular, nature-culture, heaven-earth dualities. In Singh’s classes, environmental justice is an existential issue explored across literary, theoretical, and visual source materials. In her writings, she redirects the “otherworldly” orientation reinforced by normative interpreters of Sikh scripture (her area of expertise), to a praxis-based life cultivated through intimate relationships with society and the cosmos. Her latest book devoted a chapter to the ecological theology of the First Sikh (Life and Legacy of Guru Nanak, 2019). Her forthcoming volume (Word and Text, 2022) explores illustrated popular stories from a premodern pluralistic Punjab as eco-narratives that contribute to making sense of the material forces and substance of our very historical, temporal, ever-changing world. Singh’s biophilial lens reveals the aesthetic beauty of diverse South Asian landscapes and cityscapes that should foster a dynamic environmental ethics.
Visiting Assistant Professor Ryan Harper
Ryan Harper’s research and teaching interests revolve around American religion–particularly spirituality and the arts. His course, American Spirituality and the Environment, examines intersections between environmental (and anti-environmentalist) ethics, climate activism, and American religious movements–especially as they are manifest in the visual arts and literature. Ryan has published two books: an ethnography of southern gospel music (The Gaithers and Southern Gospel: Homecoming in the Twenty-First Century, 2017), and a collection of poems (My Beloved Had a Vineyard, 2018). His third and fourth books, in process, are a study of contemporary American Christianity and creative writing, and a second collection of poems that wrestles with the spirituality and geopolitics of American riverways. A happy resident of New York City and Waterville, Ryan also has published essays on the eco-literary legacy of Maine’s “crossers and dwellers,” ranging from Henry David Thoreau to poet Amy Clampitt.