English professor Scott Hess elected to executive post for literature and environment association

Scott Hess, a professor of English at Earlham College, has been elected to the executive council of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.

Hess began his three-year term earlier this month as ASLE’s executive council conference chair. Chief among his responsibilities will be planning for the 1500-member organization’s biennial conference in summer 2023.

“ASLE has been immensely important for me both personally and professionally, as literature and environment and the environmental humanities overall have become my main teaching and research focus,” said Hess, who became a member of the organization in 2001.

“ASLE is a group of people who share a deep sense of care for the environment as well as a mission to make a positive difference in the world, including on issues of social and environmental justice,” he said. “It’s also an extraordinarily interdisciplinary organization, in which scholars explore how not only literature but also film, visual arts, and other media help shape people’s environmental attitudes and actions in ways that intersect with politics, economics, psychology and the natural sciences, among other areas.”

“The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment is a group of people who share a deep sense of care for the environment as well as a mission to make a positive difference in the world, including on issues of social and environmental justice.”

— Scott Hess, professor of English

Hess is an expert in the fields of environmental humanities, 18th- and 19th-century British literature, and 19th-century American literature. He earned his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

At Earlham, he teaches environmental courses such as American Literature and Ecology, Imagining Climate Change, and Race, Ethnicity and Nature in American Literature, among others.

He is the author of two books and is currently writing a third. His first, William Wordsworth and the Ecology of Authorship: The Roots of Environmentalism in Nineteenth-Century Culture, was published in 2012 by the University of Virginia Press. Authoring the Self: Self-Representation, Authorship, and the Print Market in British Poetry from Pope through Wordsworth was published by Routledge in 2005.

His current book project is tentatively entitled Landscapes of Genius: Author, Nature, Nation and the Transatlantic Origins of Environmentalism. It explores how various authors, such as William Wordsworth and John Muir, became associated with specific landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic in ways that have deeply shaped our current ideas of nature and the development of the environmental movement.

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