New English Faculty Bring Department to Forefront of Literature and Environment

Wednesday, October 10 2012

MOSCOW, Idaho – The recent addition of two new faculty members has vaulted the University of Idaho English department into a leadership role in the field of literature and the environment. 

Professors Scott Slovic and Erin James joined the U-Idaho faculty this fall. Their publications and international recognition will help build the English department’s environmental focus. 

Slovic, one of the founders of the discipline of ecocriticism, taught ecocritical theory and American and international environmental literature for 17 years at the University of Nevada, Reno, before joining the University of Idaho department. He has edited the field’s primary journal, “ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment,” since 1995, and will continue to edit the journal at U-Idaho.

James is a specialist in postcolonial ecocriticism and Caribbean and African literatures. She taught for four years at the University of Nevada, Reno, before moving to the University of Idaho. 

Slovic and James join a department already deeply committed to environmental literature and writing: Jennifer Ladino, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies, publishes on representations of nature in American literature and cinema. Ladino has taught courses in ecocriticism and green cultural studies since joining the faculty in 2010. Longtime Idaho faculty member Jan Johnson has expertise in environmental justice and American Indian studies. The department also boasts prominent poets, essayists, fiction writers and rhetoricians who focus on the environment in their work. 

“Our department is involved in many of the university’s important environmental programs and initiatives, like Waters of the West, Semester in the Wild, the Sustainability Center and Writing in the Wild,” said Gary Williams, chair of the English department.  “With the arrival of Scott and Erin, and our sponsorship of ISLE, the department will be ideally positioned to make significant contributions.”

The English department plans to offer new courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. With its new status as a leader in ecocriticism, the department is receiving an influx of visiting international scholars as well. Long-term plans include discussion of a possible formal degree program in literature and environment.
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