The Environmental Humanities

The Environmental Humanities

A Critical Introduction

By Robert S. Emmett and David E. Nye

A concise overview of this multidisciplinary field, presenting key concepts, central issues, and current research, along with concrete examples and case studies.





A concise overview of this multidisciplinary field, presenting key concepts, central issues, and current research, along with concrete examples and case studies.

The emergence of the environmental humanities as an academic discipline early in the twenty-first century reflects the growing conviction that environmental problems cannot be solved by science and technology alone. This book offers a concise overview of this new multidisciplinary field, presenting concepts, issues, current research, concrete examples, and case studies. Robert Emmett and David Nye show how humanists, by offering constructive knowledge as well as negative critique, can improve our understanding of such environmental problems as global warming, species extinction, and over-consumption of the earth's resources. They trace the genealogy of environmental humanities from European, Australian, and American initiatives, also showing its cross-pollination by postcolonial and feminist theories.

Emmett and Nye consider a concept of place not synonymous with localism, the risks of ecotourism, and the cultivation of wild areas. They discuss the decoupling of energy use and progress, and point to OECD countries for examples of sustainable development. They explain the potential for science to do both good and harm, examine dark visions of planetary collapse, and describe more positive possibilities—alternative practices, including localization and degrowth. Finally, they examine the theoretical impact of new materialism, feminism, postcolonial criticism, animal studies, and queer ecology on the environmental humanities.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262036764 248 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 b&w illus.


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262534208 248 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 b&w illus.


  • This book is the best introduction to a dynamic field. It is perfect for fomenting lively classroom discussion of so many of this era's essential issues: climate change, animal sentience, environmental justice, digital and analog forms of representing the environment, the Anthropocene, food and water security, urban futures, and sustainable energy. The writing is conceptually informed, yet lucid and grounded throughout by international and interdisciplinary examples. A tour de force.

    Rob Nixon

    Barron Family Professor in Humanities and Environment, Princeton University; author of Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor

  • Just as Emma Marris synthesized the recent work of conservation biologists in their search for novel solutions to life in the Anthropocene, so too have Emmett and Nye given us an elegant meditation on two decades of work by environmental scholars of the humanities. More than a literature review, the book makes a convincing case, for all those who need it, that our futures are contingent on the non-perfunctory understanding and appreciation for the social and cultural values that undergird our environmental problems as well as the solutions.

    Gary Kroll

    Professor of History at SUNY Plattsburgh; author of America's Ocean Wilderness

  • In this neat, compact, yet very rich volume Robert Emmett and David Nye demonstrate that the environmental humanities is a cross-cutting intellectual adventure that will not only stimulate knowledge and catalyze the humanities but will also affect the transition to sustainable societies. It is an excellent introduction to a vibrant field which is too vast for anyone to fully fathom. They have selected well, they write accessibly, their judgment is sound.

    Sverker Sörlin

    Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology