Doctoral Students

Doctoral Students I've Advised

Ryan EichbergerRyan Eichberger, Postdoctoral Scholar

Dissertation: "Imaging Environmental Belonging in a Wounded World: Toward a Visual Rhetoric for the Anthropocene," 2019 (Winner of the University of Minnesota Graduate School's "Best Dissertation Award" in Arts & Humanities for 2020!)

  • seeks to identify a visuality for the Anthropocene that highlights ecosystem connections, tempers Romantic and utilitarian ideas of nature, and effectively grapples with the problem of distance
  • engages ideas and perspectives from the fields of rhetorical studies, technical communication, and the environmental humanities
  • argues for five components of an Anthropocene visuality: shadow rhetorics, rhetorical folding, defamiliarization, intimacy, and belonging
  • examines online maps of the Dakota Access Pipeline during the Standing Rock protests, digital photographs of the retreating glaciers in Iceland, and interactive maps of the Great Lakes shoreline


 Juliette Lapeyrouse-Cherry Juliette Lapeyrouse-Cherry, Assistant Professor of English, St. Catherine University

Dissertation: "Composing the Gulf Coast: Narratives of Environmental Toxicity, Racial Injustice, and Carbon Energy Across Modalities," 2019

  • seeks to understand how narratives in three different communicative modes address issues related to oil production in Louisiana's Gulf Coast
  • uses key concepts from the energy humanities, environmental humanities, and writing studies, including "slow violence" and the "spectrality" of oil
  • identifies the "elegiac travelogue," an emerging nonfiction genre in which a place is portrayed by outsiders as tragic and barreling toward extinction, and argues that narratives created by local residents have a greater potential to advocate for environmental justice
  • examines nonfiction books (by Mark Twain, John McPhee, Mike Tidwell, David Gessner, Richard Misrach and Kate Orff, and Arlie Russel Hochschild), documentary films (The Big Fix, Vanishing Pearls, and The Great Invisible), and interactive, web-based maps


Grace MillerGrace Miller, Postdoctoral Scholar

Dissertation: "Babel's Apology: Religious Nostalgia and Literary Engagement with the Postsecular Age," 2018 (Awarded an Honorable Mention in the University of Minnesota Graduate School's Best Dissertation Competition in Arts & Humanities for 2019!)

  • seeks to understand the appearance of postsecular spiritual or religious beliefs and practices in religious literary works
  • employs theoretical approaches to postsecularism from both literary criticism and postmodern theology
  • argues that these works emphasize mysticism beyond rationalization, value faith over practice, and exhibit a strong sense of nostalgia and loss
  • examines works by Marilynne Robinson, Louise Erdrich, Walker Percy, and Don DeLillo


Josh MabieJosh Mabie, Associate Professor of Languages and Literatures, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Dissertation: "Modern American Pilgrims: Dwelling and Religious Travel in the Lives and Works of Herman Melville and T.S. Eliot," 2012

  • seeks to understand how Herman Melville and T. S. Eliot engaged with the practice of religious pilgrimage
  • employs scholarly perspectives on secularism and modernity from both literary and religious studies
  • argues that when these writers fled social, religious, and cultural decay in America, they found their pilgrimage sites in the Old World to be in similar states of decay and were forced to come to terms with the concept of decay in their art
  • examines Melville's Clarel and Eliot's Four Quartets, among other works


Jessica ProdyJessica Prody, Associate Professor of Performance and Communication Arts, St. Lawrence University

Dissertation: "Redefining Citizenship: Lessons from Environmental Theory, Practice, and Rhetoric," Department of Communication Studies, 2011

  • seeks to understand how the idea of citizenship is being redefined in a global environmental context
  • employs theoretical perspectives on citizenship, rhetoric, and public discourse from communication studies and environmental studies
  • argues that the key components of a redefined citizenship should be justice, futurity, and security
  • examines six case studies of successful and unsuccessful environmental discourse in the context of citizenship, including studies of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, the Bush Administration's climate change policies, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and the Nixon Administration's creation of the EPA.


Matt KaplanMatthew Kaplan, Social Worker, Los Angeles, Calif.

Dissertation: "Greening the Gamescape: How Virtual Game Worlds Can Reflect Real-World Environmental Values," Department of Writing Studies, 2010

  • seeks to understand whether and how the landscapes of video games--particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs)--can convey environmental ethics
  • employs theoretical perspectives from rhetoric, Internet studies, and ecocriticism and makes connections to landscape architecture, art and film history, and environmental ethics
  • identifies the aesthetic and environmental rhetoric employed by the designers of exemplary virtual landscapes from three MMORPGs: World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, and City of Heroes
  • explores how ethics can be derived from these landscapes and how and why game designers may incorporate additional ethical subtexts in future landscapes


Brett WernerBrett Werner, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Centre College

Dissertation: "Pragmatic Ecocriticism and Equipments for Living," Department of Writing Studies, 2009

  • seeks to develop an approach to pragmatic ecocriticism grounded in rhetoric and ethics
  • integrates Kenneth Burke's notion of textual instrumentality into a Deweyan ethical framework
  • examines Kathleen Dean Moore's The Pine Island Paradox, Scott Russell Sanders's Hunting for Hope, and Sandra Steingraber's Having Faith as examples of "pragmatic narratives" that can help readers navigate complexity and uncertainty
  • explores these texts not only as forms of nature writing but also through the pragmatic genres of beach reading, self-help books, and pregnancy guidebooks, respectively


Salma MonaniSalma Monani, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Gettysburg College

Dissertation: "Nature Films and the Challenge of Just Sustainabilty," Department of Writing Studies, 2008

  • seeks to understand how documentary films represent nature-human relationships and how these representations might contribute to just and sustainable living
  • employs terms and concepts from ecocriticism and just sustainability
  • categorizes documentaries into wildlife-nature films, adventure-nature films, and social-nature films
  • examines the films March of the Penguins, Grizzly Man, An Inconvenient Truth, and Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, as well as three documentaries about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a case study: Being Caribou, Extreme Oil: The Wilderness, and Oil on Ice


Amy Patrick MossmanAmy Patrick Mossman, Professor of English, Western Illinois University

Dissertation: "Apocalyptic or Precautionary? Revisioning Texts in Environmental Literature," Department of Rhetoric, 2006

  • seeks to understand a literary tradition concerned with public right-to-know, human health, and scientific uncertainty
  • uses Carolyn Miller's theory of "genre as social action" to explore the merging of multiple genres to achieve rhetorical ends
  • claims that "apocalyptic" is a limiting, inaccurate description of environmental texts and argues instead for the "precautionary tale" as a rhetorical genre
  • examines Rachel Carson's Silent Spring; Colborn, Dumanoski, and Myers's Our Stolen Future; Sandra Steingraber's Living Downstream; and Edward O. Wilson's The Future of Life


Kelly BallKelly Ball, Director of Student Learning, Assessment, and Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Dissertation: "Environmental Values in American Popular-Culture Narratives," Department of Rhetoric, 2005

  • seeks to understand how environmental fiction narratives may shape environmental values and human behavior
  • employs "eco-ethical rhetorical criticism," a triangulation of critical perspectives derived from ecocriticism, ethical criticism, and rhetorical criticism
  • classifies environmental fiction narratives into three categories according to their potential to influence an audience's environmental values: environmental allegories (low potential), new environmental stories (modeate potential), and engaged environmental narratives (high potential)
  • examines two short case studies (the TV show Futurama and the film The Day after Tomorrow) and two extended case studies (the film Pocahontas and Barbara Kingsolver's novel Prodigal Summer)

Doctoral Students with Whom I've Worked Closely

Samantha Majhor, "We Are All Related: Contemporary Native American Literature and the Nonhuman Turn," Department of English, 2019 (Josephine Lee, advisor)

Christian Angelich, "Trope of Containment: Shale Oil, Risk Rhetoric, and The Lac-Mégantic Disaster," Department of Communication Studies, 2019 (Mark Pedelty, advisor)

Kiley Kost, "Telling Deep Time: Geologic Narration in German Fiction since 1945," Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, 2018 (Charlotte Melin, advisor)

Michelle Garvey, "Restoration's Return in the Age of Climate Change: Toward a Feminist Environmental Justice Response," Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, 2014 (Jacqueline Zita, advisor)

Heather O'Leary, "Uneven Absorption: World-Class Delhi, Domestic Workers and the Water That Makes Them," Department of Anthropology, 2014 (William Beeman, advisor)

Laura Bozeman, "The Genteel Frontier: Westward Expansion of Womanly Refinement," Department of American Studies, 2014 (Donald Ross, advisor)

Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, "Peak Politics: Resource Scarcity and Libertarian Political Culture in the United States," Department of American Studies, 2013 (Elaine Tyler May, advisor)

James Brown, "Anarchy and Individualism in American Literature: From Walden Pond to the Rise of the New Left," Department of American Studies, 2012 (Elaine Tyler May, advisor)

Anne Roth-Reinhardt, "Material Remnants: Clothing as Text in Historical American Fiction, 1789-1860," Department of English, 2011 (Ed Griffin, advisor)

Anthony Arrigo, "Imagining the Dam: The Visual Rhetoric of Hoover (Boulder) Dam in Popular and Public Print Media, 1920-1975," Department of Writing Studies, 2009 (Richard Graff, advisor)

Gina Rumore, "A Natural Laboratory, A National Monument: Carving out a Place for Science in Glacier Bay, Alaska, 1879-1959," Program in History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, 2009 (Sally Gregory Kohlstedt and Mark Borrello, advisors); winner of the 2010 Rachel Carson Prize for best dissertation from the American Society for Environmental History

Emily Swanson, "Natural Arguments: Popular Discourse and Environmental Legislation, 1945-2007," Department of English, 2007 (Donald Ross, advisor)

Megan Casey, "Postcolonial Ecocriticism and the Cultural Politics of Nature in Belize," Department of English, 2007 (Robert Brown, advisor)

Brian Wolff, "Utilitarian and Environmental Ethics," Program in Conservation Biology, 2006 (Richard Philips, advisor)

Devin Corbin, "The Work of Belonging: Agricultural Improvement, Romantic Wilderness, and the Rise of Restorationism in U.S. Environmental Literature," Department of English, 2005 (Donald Ross, advisor)

Kimberly Byrd, "Of Wolves and Worldviews: Navigating the Social Landscape of Wolf Management in Minnesota," Program in Conservation Biology, 2003 (William Cunningham, advisor)

Kim Chapman, "Conserving Regional Biodiversity: Role of Reserves, Rural Lands and Suburbs in the Prairie-Forest Transition, Minnesota, United States of America," Program in Conservation Biology, 2001 (Peter Reich, advisor)