About Literature and the Environment

UC Santa Barbara’s English Department is a national leader in the study of Literature and the Environment. What makes us unique is that, with a total of twelve faculty members offering over two dozen courses, we have seamless, strong coverage in ecocritical coursework from the early Renaissance through the 21st century.  Moreover, we explore environmental issues from British, American, and Global perspectives, using a range of methodological approaches, with such emphases as non-human/human relations, environmental and social justice within a global rather than national context, and the political impact of institutions, networks, and regimes on bodies and the biosphere. Such diversity allows students to take courses as varied as "Natural Representations: Wordsworth, Dickinson, Bishop,” “American Romanticism and Environmental Imagination,” "Postcolonial and Global Ecological Imaginations," “Milton and Ecology,” and "Animal Theory."

UC Santa Barbara’s commitment to environmental issues dates from 1969; after one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history off the coast of Santa Barbara, a group of twenty-one UCSB faculty members calling themselves the Friends of the Human Habitat helped create the modern environmental movement. This commitment to the environment continues today with the faculty and students of our English Department.

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Undergraduate Study

How does literature affect environmental values and practices? Can a novel or poem make a more sustainable world? Environment literary criticism focuses on the ways in which literature shapes and responds to a variety of environmental concerns, from animal welfare to pollution to global warming. UC Santa Barbara's English Department offers a variety of ways for undergraduates to explore the intersection of literature and the environment. Students casually interested in the subject can simply take one or more of the many courses offered. It is also possible to do an Undergraduate Specialization in Literature and the Environment by taking four or more of these courses. Students who are especially dedicated can complete the USLE with Honors. The English Department also sponsors a variety of events having to do with literature and the environment.  Details can be found here.

Graduate Study

UC Santa Barbara's English Department provides graduate students with a range of resources to aid in the study of literature and the environment. This begins with our extraordinary faculty, who approach environmental issues from a variety of diverse and exciting perspectives. The regular meetings of the Colloquium in Literature and Environment bring together faculty and graduate students in order to discuss their own work, and to keep current with ecocritical studies. There are also teaching opportunities available for graduate students interested in literature and the environment. Students may take the "Theories of Literature and the Environment" list an option for the First Qualifying Exam.