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 a PhD candidate in English, the Eric Englund Fellow in American Studies, and the Jane Campbell Krohn Fellow in Literature and Environment at the University of Oregon. I work in the interdisciplinary fields of environmental humanities and American studies, focusing on Indigenous, environmental, and bio-politics in nineteenth-century American literature. I engage American Studies through the intersection of environmental humanities, settler colonial studies, and political theory. My secondary interests include scholarly activism and the tiny house movement.

Find my work on academia.edu

I am currently completing my dissertation entitled “Unfenceable Sovereignties: Unsettling Natures of Possession in Nineteenth-century American literature.” My project investigates nineteenth century American literature for precedents to contemporary climate justice struggles.  I uncover the ways literary genre challenges racial and environmental exploitation and the importance of those literary tactics for contemporary social and environmental justice movements (including climate fiction). Specifically, my dissertation focuses on how literary genre shows environmental and racial issues intersecting in concepts of “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.

In my secondary interests, I am committed to supporting Indigenous anticolonial and resurgence struggles. I am also dedicated to issues of housing justice, like those converging in the tiny house movement. 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 in Routledge’s Environmental Humanities series collection on Degrowth.

My work has been featured in Resilience: 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.


A simple introduction to environmental justice