April Anson

PhD Candidate, Eric Englund Fellow in American Studies and Jane Campbell Krohn Fellow in Literature and Environment

Interdisciplinary research on race, environment, and American literature in an era of climate change

I am passionate about the radical possibilities of  joining the environmental humanities and American studies. I am most curious about how understanding histories of race and environment in America can help us address environmental justice issues in an era of climate change. To investigate this, I specialize in Indigenous, environmental, and bio-politics in nineteenth-century American literature. As a scholar activist, I believe in the importance of public intellectualism. My work on the tiny house movement, I hope, models how to learn in public alongside people imagining new worlds (found here).

My scholarship has been published by Environmental HistoryResilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, The Ecotone: Journal of Environmental Studies, EcoMedia Studies, Sustainable Cities: Global Concerns/Urban Efforts, The Evil Body, and The Journal for the Study of Religion‘s special issue on feminist ecology, and others.

Find my work on academia.edu

Updates: I am excited to announce that I have been named an Oregon Humanities Center Dissertation Fellow for my dissertation entitled “Unfenceable Sovereignties: Unsettling Natures of Possession in American literature.” My project investigates nineteenth-century American literature for precedents to contemporary climate justice struggles. I unearth the ways literary genre can consolidate or unsettle racial and environmental exploitation and the importance of those literary tactics for contemporary justice movements (including climate fiction). Specifically, my dissertation focuses on how literary genre expresses whiteness through “naturalized sovereignty”– a form of power justified through the supposed naturalness of private property but hiding the extractive logics of white supremacy and settler colonialism. One central question I ask is what can the links between race and environment in 19th century tell us about effective resistance (literary or otherwise) to racial and environmental violence today.

I am committed to supporting Indigenous anticolonial and resurgence struggles, and take those struggles very seriously in my scholarship. My article “Silent Sounds of Sundown: Survivance Ecology and John Joseph Matthews’ Bildungsroman” explores the connection between contemporary anti-colonial, anti-extraction movements and the Osage Reign of Terror. The article is forthcoming in Western American Literature, slated for early 2019.

I am also dedicated to issues of housing justice, like those converging in the tiny house movement. Currently, I am most interested in the tiny house movement’s whiteness problem. My most recent publication, “The Patron Saint of Tiny Houses,” explores the relationship between the tiny house movement and Henry David Thoreau. This chapter appears in newly published Literature in Context series on Thoreau by Cambridge University Press, found here. I also have a forthcoming chapter on the radical potential in the movement for Routledge’s Environmental Humanities series collection on Degrowth.


A simple introduction to environmental justice