See the Table of Contents below ("In This Issue") and click on the article that you wish to read. When you finish an article, scroll back up to the Table of Contents and click on the next article that you wish to read.
|President's Column: Reflections on Portland|
Almost no matter how you look at it, the recent annual meeting at Portland was very successful. Rain or shine, Portland is an appealing city, with a very walkable center. For ASEH, one of its charms is the high level of civic environmental consciousness. Wednesday's floating seminar on the Willamette River offered a sobering historical context for this current greenness.
Portland is not very old - it was incorporated in 1851 - and founded only a few years earlier. But, as the seminar speakers repeatedly pointed out, a century and a half of industry has left the river and its immediate surroundings with a formidable residue of pollution. The banks have been reengineered to suit the needs of industry; as an unintended consequence they have ceased to nurture wildlife. Although much of the river remains dead, the speakers described vigorous ongoing attempts to return at least some parts of the banks to their earlier ecological functions, and to protect returning and reintroduced wildlife populations.
In reductive statistical terms, attendance was larger than ever before. The program offered more panels and, therefore, opportunities for more speakers-but even so, the number of proposals had also increased significantly, which made competition for slots unprecedentedly intense (every silver lining has a cloud). The arrangements worked smoothly, even though the need to coordinate with the National Council on Public History, which held its conference simultaneously, produced unprecedented challenges for ASEH's Local Arrangements Committee and Program Committee as well as for NCPH's.
Surmounting these challenges left occasional traces, such as the awkward arrangement of the program itself (left pages for the ASEH panels, right pages for the NCPH panels), but there were only a few of these. I would be interested to learn whether ASEH members confined themselves to ASEH events, or whether they took advantage of the additional opportunities offered by the NCPH, and I look forward to the final results of our conference evaluations.
I am especially curious about the experience of others because my own does not offer much evidence. Like the other officers of the society, I devoted more time to sitting in meeting rooms than listening to panels. Normally these meetings do not have a readily apprehensible product; they make invisible though necessary contributions to the operations of the society. And since bureaucracy, however vital, is seldom thrilling, there is no need to recount the proceedings here. But they produced one very noticeable result. Mark Cioc's term as editor of Environmental History is drawing to an end, and, as is noted elsewhere in this newsletter, Nancy Langston will replace him.
By coincidence, this appointment concludes a momentous year in the life of our journal. As was announced in the last edition of this newsletter, beginning with the January 2010 issue Environmental History will be published by the Oxford University Press. Previously the Forest History Society, our partner in producing the journal, also acted as publisher. The reasons for the change, both numerous and compelling, were detailed in the last newsletter.
The new regime has begun well, with a very substantial Oxford University Press presence in the Portland book display and opening reception. What I want to emphasize here is how much careful planning and sustained effort went into the selection of Oxford University Press as the journal's new home, as well as into the management of the actual transfer. Many people were involved in the process, and all of them deserve the heartfelt thanks of ASEH members. But Nancy Langston, my predecessor as ASEH president, deserves the lion's share of credit. Her demonstrated commitment to the welfare of the journal, as well as her scholarly accomplishments, means that Environmental History will be in very goods hands.
|The Profession: In Search of El Nino on the New Beagle|
By Gregory T. Cushman, University of Kansas
I'm not a scientist, but I play one on TV. In 2009-10, Dutch Television and Radio (VPRO) organized a round-the-world voyage of the sailing ship Stad Amsterdam along the route taken by Charles Darwin and the Beagle. The big idea behind this trip was to trace how our relationship with the environment has changed since Darwin's visit in order to gauge the Future of Species in a world dominated by humans.
I sailed on the leg from Valparaiso, Chile, to Callao, Peru, as an expert on the Pacific Coast of South America. But I was in a totally alien environment out there in the midst of the ocean wilderness. We sailed with the wind to waters seldom glimpsed by humans. Thousands of meters of dark blue water lay between me and the earth, and my accustomed habitat on dry land was even further away.
Of course, this is what made the trip so attractive. Binoculars provided my main tool of investigation. Best of all, when we neared the coast of Peru, we sailed straight through hundreds of thousands of birds, sea lions, and dolphins diving for fish. Action surrounded us as far as the eye could see. This was an El Niño year, when this Serengeti of the Sea moves miles offshore to the south. I gained great insight into the environment I study from this firsthand experience.
It was my job to explain the havoc that El Niño and La Niña cause. It is difficult enough to explain the intricacies of this phenomenon in a Powerpoint lecture, article, or book. But they needed it explained in a few sentences, in a handful of takes, filmed on the deck of a ship. I ended up drawing the basics in my notebook with a marker. This appeared in episode 18 "The Last Drop," which traces the impact of El Niño and global warming on the livelihoods of Peruvians. The melting of Peru's highland glaciers is destined to make the country far more vulnerable to rainfall variation during El Niño and La Niña.
The filmmakers found out about me because I had done some investigations in the UK on Darwin and Fitzroy's research in the Atacama Desert and along the Peruvian coast. They asked me some questions when planning this voyage; I provided answers; and to my great surprise, they invited me along. Other sorts of historians participated in other legs of the trip, including cosmologist Paul Davies, big historian Tim Flannery, planetwalker John Francis, and the star of the series, natural historian Redmond O'Hanlon.
I often had to explain that there is a big difference between environmental historians and scientists. One journalist I met at the end of the trip thought I was a big phony. But some of this got through: a bit of my research using old Peruvian almanacs made it into the film. Perhaps there is a larger opportunity for environmental historians in all this. Why can't we be the ones to explain how the earth operates to the public? Who is better qualified to explain how and why these things matter to humans?
Over a million people saw my halting attempts at this when it was first broadcast. You can see them, too, at http://beagle.vpro.nl/#/widget/afleveringen/18
(Microsoft Silverlight plug-in required.) Click on "Toon alle afleveringen" to see all 30 of these slickly edited episodes. Much of the films' content is in English with subtitles and deals with key themes in environmental history.
New Developments for Journal Environmental History:
Announcing New Editor
ASEH is pleased to announce that Nancy Langston has been named the new editor of our journal, Environmental History, beginning in 2011. Nancy is a professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology with a joint appointment in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her books include Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disrupters and the Legacy of DES, recently published by Yale University Press. She will work with current editor Mark Cioc during the next year. We are very grateful to the editor search committee, which included members from ASEH and FHS, and especially to Kathleen Brosnan, who chaired the committee.
Announcing New Journal Website
now has a new website
with information on teaching environmental history, interviews with environmental historians, submitting articles to the journal, and more.
Joining ASEH or Renewing Your Subscription/Membership
Oxford University Press now publishes Environmental History
and manages ASEH memberships. This means that when you join ASEH or renew your membership, which includes a subscription to the journal, you will be taken to the Oxford Journals subscription page. Here you will be guided through the process of creating an account with Oxford Journals that will allow you to subscribe to the journal and become an ASEH member. Click here
for more information. Please note that joint memberships with the FHS will not be managed by Oxford University Press and will not have direct access to Oxford's online resources.
Historical Research Associates, Inc. is looking for two full-time research historians in the Kansas City area. The initial contracts will run for 18 months, and the deadline for applications is March 31, 2010. Click here for more information.
Professor of Environmental History - UAF
The University of Alaska-Fairbanks Department of History seeks to appoint a professor of Environmental History (rank and salary commensurate with experience) to a tenure-track position. The successful candidate will provide evidence of excellence in undergraduate teaching, an active research program, and commitment to university service.
The primary responsibilities of this position will be to teach undergraduate courses in the successful candidate's area of expertise, including environmental and United States history, as well as an introductory survey in Modern World History; to pursue research that leads to peer reviewed publications; and to provide service to the University and Fairbanks community.
UA is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and educational institution. Your application for employment with the University of Alaska is subject to public disclosure under the Alaska Public Records Act.
Click here for more information. Review of applications will begin March 29th, 2010.
Travel Grants for 2010 Meeting
Travel grants are available for students and low-income scholars presenting in Phoenix, Arizona; click here for more information.
Peder Anker (New York University) recently published From Bauhaus to Ecohouse: A History of Ecological Design with LSU Press.
Nancy Langston (University of Wisconsin-Madison) recently published Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disrupters and the Legacy of DES with Yale University Press. She has just been named the new editor of the journal Environmental History.
Joy Parr (University of Western Ontario) recently published Sensing Changes: Technologies, Environments, and the Everyday, 1953-2003 with UBC Press.
Mart Stewart (Western Washington University) was the Thomson Distinguished Visiting Chair in Environmental Studies at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina for fall semester, 2009.
|ASEH Award Recipients 2010|
Congratulations to this year's award recipients!
ASEH President Harriet Ritvo (pictured right) presented Carolyn Merchant with the Distinguished Scholar Award in Portland.
The following prizes were also awarded in Portland:
George Perkins Marsh Prize for best book in Environmental History
Timothy J. LeCain, Mass Destruction: The Men and Giant Mines that Wired America and Scarred the Planet (Rutgers, 2009).
Alice Hamilton Prize for best article outside Environmental History
Richard Keyser, "The Transformation of Traditional Woodland Management: Commercial Sylviculture in Medieval Champagne" in French Historical Studies, 2009.
Leopold-Hidy Prize for best article in Environmental History (with Forest History Society)
Emily Yeh, "From Wasteland to Wetland?: From Nature to Nation in China's Tibet," vol. 14, no. 1 (January 2009): 103-37.
Rachel Carson Prize for best dissertation
Gina Maria Rumore, "A Natural Laboratory, A National Monument: Carving out a Place for Science in Glacier Bay, Alaska, 1879-1959"
(University of Minnesota).
Click here to read the comments of the evaluation committees on these awards.
Brett Walker (pictured left), chair of the George Perkins Marsh Prize Committee, presented the award for best book to Timothy LeCain.
And we would again like to congratulate our fellowship recipients, announced in the winter newsletter:
Samuel Hays Research Fellowship
Carl Zimring, Roosevelt University, for his study, "Clean and White: Creating Whiteness and Environmental Racism in the United States"
Hal Rothman Research Fellowship
Steven Moga, MIT, for research for his dissertation, "Bottoms, Hollows, and Flats: Making and Remaking the Lowlands, An Urban Environmental History"
|ASEH Awards Submissions for 2010 - First Notice |
This year ASEH's prize committees will evaluate submissions (published books and articles and completed dissertations) that appear between November 1, 2009 and October 31, 2010. Please send three copies of each submission (these must be hard copies, or paper copies) by November 12, 2010 to:
ASEH, UW Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program
University of Washington
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
|Greetings from ASLE, the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment |
By Catherine Meeks, ASLE News editor, and Annie Merrill Ingram, ASLE President
ASLE and ASEH have recently been discussing ways that our organizations can collaborate. ASLE has recently completed a Strategic Plan, a process that ASEH completed a few years earlier (and that gave us a helpful model for how to organize our own plan). The officers of both organizations are enthusiastic about future possibilities for joint participation at conferences, especially at the ASEH meeting in Phoenix in April, 2011 and the ASLE meeting in Bloomington in June, 2011.
ASLE is a younger organization than ASEH; we were founded in 1992 by a small group of scholars and writers interested in promoting the exchange of ideas and information about literature and other cultural representations that consider human relationships with the natural world. Since that time, our membership has grown to approximately 1200 individual members representing 49 of the United States and 32 other countries. ASLE also has nine international affiliated groups, each with its own leadership and membership. ASLE publishes ASLE News (an online member newsletter) four times a year. In conjunction with Oxford University Press, ASLE also publishes the quarterly journal ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. We hold a biennial conference in odd-numbered years, drawing participants and speakers from around the globe; our most recent conference, in June 2009, was also our first international conference, hosted by the University of Victoria in British Columbia.
The name of the organization is meant to be as inclusive as possible, encompassing any text that illuminates the ways humans perceive and interact with the nonhuman environment. ASLE encourages and seeks to facilitate both traditional and innovative scholarly approaches to environmental literature, ecocritical approaches to all cultural representations of nature, and interdisciplinary environmental research, including discussions among literary scholars, economists, journalists, philosophers, psychologists, art historians, scientists, and, of particular interest to member of ASEH, environmental historians. In addition to encouraging new writing about nature and environment, we foster contact between scholars and environmentally-engaged artists, including writers, photographers, painters, musicians, and filmmakers. We also promote the incorporation of environmental concerns and awareness into pedagogical theory and practice.
We encourage you to learn more about ASLE by visiting our website, www.asle.org
|Summary of Portland Conference Discussions and Events: Sustainability, National Parks, and a Fun Run|
Plenary Session Soon to be Available on C-Span
C-Span filmed ASEH's plenary session on Klamath Dam removal and will post a link by April 10, 2010. See:
and click on "Schedules."
ASEH and Sustainability: Toward an Agenda
by Michael Smith, Ithaca College
(on behalf of the Sustainability Committee)
What are the responsibilities of the ASEH and its members when it comes to the idea and practice of sustainability? The Sustainability Committee for the Society was created last year to help answer this question. There are many in the organization - myself included - who believe a group of scholars who know all too well the historical human and ecological costs of prodigal resource exploitation should seek to minimize those costs as we conduct our business. There are others who accept this cost as the price of sustaining a learnéd society and believe that the most significant contribution ASEH can make to sustainability is as scholars - that as students of environmental history we are well-positioned to frame the discussion of sustainability as historically contingent and help ensure that sustainability does not imply a goal of stasis (an impossible goal, to begin with). These are not contradictory aspirations. It seems quite realistic for ASEH to embrace both of these agendas.
The first sustainability breakfast consisted of four separate conversations that each coalesced around three roles for the Sustainability Committee: ensuring that our conference and the operations of the Society are as sustainable as possible (which, some noted, goes well beyond "greening" to thinking about social justice issues for site selection, hotels, catering, etc.); gathering and disseminating ideas about how to integrate the idea and history of sustainability into curriculum; and fostering participation on the part of our members in local, national, and international discussions about sustainability. As is the case with historians in all fields, we need to find a way to serve as public intellectuals in engaging the major issues of our time-there are few that are more urgent than how to move industrialized civilization down a more sustainable path. The committee welcomes ideas about how to move these initiatives forward-we hope that the 2011 conference will have some panels and workshops that do this. But we need to raise the profile of such sessions.
The "Greening Campuses" panel that was organized by Sustainability Committee chair Michael Egan was not well attended, which is a pity since there seems to be a real hunger in the Society's membership for ideas about and models of curriculum and operations related to sustainability. Links to the sustainability initiatives of Morrisville State College
, Western State College
, Arizona State University
, UC-Santa Cruz
, Oberlin College
, and Ithaca College
can be found by clicking on each institution. You will see that the range of initiatives and the definition of sustainability is quite broad (one goal of the committee is to have a clear definition of sustainability for ASEH by the end of 2010).
The Committee would like to ensure that the topic of sustainability practices on campuses is more visible next year in Phoenix. One proposal the committee is considering is to have one of the two featured workshops for the conference be focused on sustainability practices.
The one envisioned for Wednesday would be held on the ASU campus and focus on two parts: (1) sustainability curriculum and the history/humanities role; and (2) green campus initiatives (walking the talk). Paul Hirt, who is also on the program committee for next year's conference, suggests specifically inviting key ASEH sustainability/green practices leaders to talk about their experiences at their campuses. Also being considered is a mini-sustainability education workshop along the model of the Piedmont Project
and Ponderosa Project
In short, it seems clear that this new committee has an important role to play in the Society. We welcome your input into our work.
Michael Egan, Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
Environmental History and the National Parks
By Alison Steiner and Neel Baumgardner, ASEH/NPS student assistants
In his recent documentary, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," Ken Burns explores the unique role of the National Park Service (NPS) in preserving the nation's past. The National Parks Second Century Commission Report, released last fall, also highlights the important connections between the places managed by the Park Service and key stories of U.S. history. Yet, one important question remains: what role do environmental historians play in the interpretation and management of these sites? At the ASEH Annual Meeting in Portland, we began to examine these issues during a full-day workshop on the relationship between environmental history and the NPS. More than eighty people-academics as well as Park Service employees-attended the workshop's morning session, and fifty people participated in an afternoon field trip to the historic Columbia River Gorge.
The purpose of the NPS Workshop was threefold. First, it sought to determine the state of the field of environmental history as it relates to the National Park Service. Second, it examined the ways in which environmental history can inform and influence management decisions and, specifically, how environmental historians can participate in decision-making processes. Third, it asked how we might advance the NPS role, as the nation's lead preservation agency, in interpreting environmental history for the American public.
The morning session speakers included Timothy Babalis (NPS), Rebecca Conard (Middle Tennessee State University), Rolf Diamant (NPS), Jim Feldman (University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh), Mark Fiege (Colorado State University), Phil Scarpino (IUPUI), and Mark Spence (HistoryCraft). Presenters reviewed case studies of the use of environmental history in the rehabilitation and public portrayal of spaces such as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Stones River National Military Park. For example, through the lens of oyster production in the Drakes Estero tideland of Point Reyes, Timothy Babalis, a Park Service historian, demonstrated that historical methods can help our understanding of landscape change over time by describing the evolving relationship between humans and a given environment. In addition, speakers examined the larger role that environmental history can play within the Park Service by breaking down artificial administrative divisions between natural and cultural resource management and in realizing the vision laid out by the Second Century Commission.
During the afternoon, Bob Hadlow (Oregon DOT) and Larry Lipin (Pacific University) narrated a field trip to the Columbia River Gorge. Participants stopped at Vista House (a public rest stop and observatory built in 1918 from which highway travelers could view the Gorge) and visited Multnomah Falls (the second tallest year-round waterfall in the nation). They finished the excursion with a 2.4-mile hike to Cascade Locks on the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.
This NPS workshop was a preliminary step in encouraging the integration of environmental history in Park Service management and interpretation. In order to establish a record of these proceedings, the workshop presentations will be published in an upcoming special issue of the George Wright Forum, the journal of the George Wright Society. In addition, please help us continue this discussion on-line by visiting our blog: http://asehandthenationalparks.blogspot.com/
The workshop on environmental history and the national parks featured a variety of speakers in the morning and an afternoon site visit to the historic Columbia River Highway (see below).
Inaugural "Run for the Hal of It" Fun Run a Success
The inaugural "Run for the Hal of It" Fun(d) Run walk/run event to benefit the Hal Rothman Research Fellowship was held at the ASEH conference in Portland and proved quite successful. Twenty-one hardy souls from both ASEH and NCPH gathered at the crack of dawn on a crisp Saturday morning to either run 5 km or walk 1.5 miles along the riverfront. Afterward, several runners gathered for more conversation over warm coffee provided courtesy of race organizer Jamie Lewis. Oxford University Press and the Forest History Society generously donated books as door prizes as well. Thanks are also due to Mary Braun and Kim Little for their donations of time and energy to help make the event a success. In all, nearly $500 was raised for the fund, and plans are already underway for next year's event in Phoenix. T-shirts, mugs, and tote bags with exclusive Portland-themed artwork or the "Run for the Hal of it!" slogan are still available online at
The Hal Rothman Fellowship was created in honor of Hal Rothman to recognize graduate student achievements in environmental history research. Those wanting to contribute to the fund who aren't runners can send donations directly to ASEH treasurer Mark Madison at 698 Conservation Way, Shepherdstown, WV 25443.
Fun(d) runners pose by the Willamette River
Thank You, Jamie Lewis
|Portland Conference Photos|
Pictured above: A highlight of our Portland conference was the floating seminar, organized by Jay Taylor and Bill Lang. Participants heard presentations from local scholars and activists while viewing Portland from a boat on the Willamette River. The biking trip was a big hit.
The graduate student reception featured a free book raffle (three photos below).
The conference included our largest book exhibit to date (see below).
Conference attendees snapped these pictures as they were leaving Portland (see two photos below):
Many Thanks to ASEH's local arrangements team, led by Bill Lang and to our program committee, led by DC Jackson
Photos courtesy Larry Cebula, Sarah Hamilton, Jamie Lewis, Lisa Mighetto, and Cathy Stanton
|ASEH News is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History.
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President
John McNeill, Georgetown University, Vice President/President Elect
Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
Ellen Stroud, Bryn Mawr College, SecretaryExecutive Committee:
Marcus Hall, University of Utah
Paul Hirt, Arizona State University
Nancy Jacobs, Brown University
Tina Loo, University of British Columbia
Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Linda Nash, University of Washington
Mark Stoll, Texas Tech University Ex Officio, Past Presidents:
Nancy Langston, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stephen Pyne, Arizona State University
Douglas Weiner, University of Arizona Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, ASEH News:
Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma Ex Officio, H-Environment Representative:
Melissa WiedenfeldEx Officio, Editor, Environmental History:
Mark Cioc, University of California-Santa Cruz
ASEH Annual Conference,
Phoenix, Arizona, April 12-16, 2011
|Click here for Call for Presentations (due June 30, 2010).
Travel grants available for students and low-income scholars - click here to learn more.
At the height of springtime, we will offer an outstanding set of field trips and special events, including an overnight birding trip to southern Arizona before the conference, an overnight trip to the Grand Canyon after the conference, and half-day field trips on Friday to explore water development, urban planning, archaeological sites, desert wetlands, and more. Additional special events will include a sustainability workshop sponsored by ASU's School of Sustainability and the Decision Center for a Desert City.
Photo courtesy Paul Hirt
ASEH Future Meetings
Phoenix, Arizona - April 12-16, 2011
Madison, Wisconsin - March 28-31, 2012
|This newsletter is a quarterly publication of the American Society for Environmental History. If you have questions, or if you would like to submit an article or announcement, contact Lisa Mighetto, editor, at
The deadline for the summer issue is June 18, 2010.