“A comprehensive introduction to the field of place-conscious literary studies.

Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska

“A tour de force of literary cartography.”

Susan Naramore Maher, University of Minnesota

ECOSPATIALITY: A Place-Based Approach to American Literature (University of Iowa Press, 2021)

If you’ve ever looked out of an airplane window, you know how it changes your view of the world. From the air, whatever preexisting geographical knowledge you have merges with your vision of the planet, and with your on-the-ground memories of place. This combination of nature, space, and story is what I call ecospatiality. This book discusses ecospatiality both as a theoretical term and as a new method for environmental reading. It’s my take on American literature, with special attention to place, travel, mapping, environmental history, and environmental justice.


I. ORIENTATION: Ecospatiality and Literary Criticism II. THE PRODUCTION OF PLACE: William Least Heat-Moon’s Ecospatial Literary Cartography III. ECOSPATIALITY AT THE CROSSROADS: Mapping Central New Mexico in Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, Leslie Marmon Silko’s Ceremony, and Ana Castillo’s So Far from God IV. THE WORLD-BRAIN AND THE WATERSHED: The Spatiality of John Steinbeck’s Environmental Vision V. PLOTTING AND RECKONING: The Geography of Injustice in Richard Wright’s Native Son AFTERWORD: An Ethical Orientation

Listen to “Mapping Stories”: An Interview on ASLE Ecocast

Additional Publications

“A Pattern of Reality”: Dynamics of Place/Writing in Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley and A Russian Journal
(In “something entirely new”: Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley.” Ed. Barbara Heavilin & Susan Shillinglaw. U of Alabama P, 2022)

“The World-Brain and the Watershed: The Spatiality of Steinbeck’s Environmental Vision.” (In Steinbeck Review 16. 2, 2019, pp. 156–173)

“Of Mollusks and Men: An Ecocritical Approach to The Pearl. (In The Pearl, by John Steinbeck. Ed. Laura Nicosia and James Nicosia. Salem, 2019, pp. 61–76)

“The Western Flyer: Steinbeck’s Boat, the Sea of Cortez, and the Saga of Pacific Fisheries, by Kevin McLean Bailey (Book Review).” (In Steinbeck Review 13.2, 2016, pp. 215–217)