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Environmental Humanities

The Environmental Humanities Research Group is the newest of the Department of the Humanities research clusters.

The Environmental Humanities Research Group brings together scholars from across the Department and has particular strengths in history, literary studies and creative writing. We have strong links with regional organisations, including the Environment Agency, Northumberland National Park Authority, the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission. We are also involved with international scholarly societies and organisations, including the European Society for Environmental History, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, the Coastal History Network and the RUCHE (Réseau Universitaire de Chercheurs en Histoire Environnementale).

Areas that we research include the history of national parks, nature conservation and environmental activism; cultural and intellectual histories of energy; responses to natural disasters, particularly by religious communities; the ecological history of British Empire, particularly Australia and the Caribbean; and the history of sanitation and water and river management from the early modern through to the modern period. Creative writers associated with the group are particularly interested in the poetry and prose of place, nature and human-animal relationships.

Published and forthcoming books by members of the group include environmental histories of the River Tyne, of Dartmoor, of the Los Angeles’s Beaches and of early modern brewing; nature writing memoirs; histories of prayer and natural disaster in the British Empire; a collective biography of women environmental activists in twentieth-century Britain; and an ecocritical study of colonial natural history.

The group runs a reading group, has regular brown bag lunches and has organised a number of academic events, including the 2019 Environmental History Network conference on the theme of ‘Flows’ and a British Academy-funded conference on ‘Rural Modernism’. Forthcoming events include the next biennial conference of the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE-UKI) in September 2021.

Dr Elsa Devienne ( runs our email list and is happy to include anyone who would like to be kept up-to-date with our activities or would like to attend our events.


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