Allison Carruth joins American studies, High Meadows Environmental Institute faculty

Sarah Malone and Morgan Kelly ・ Program in American Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute

Allison Carruth, whose collaborative work bridges the arts, humanities and sciences, has joined the Princeton faculty as a professor of American studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI) in a new joint appointment that will expand interdisciplinary teaching and research in the environmental humanities.

“I’m honored to be joining the Princeton faculty with this appointment,” Carruth said. “The Program in American Studies and the High Meadows Environmental Institute are vibrant and innovative interdisciplinary communities. I look forward to contributing to these communities, and working with colleagues, students and outside partners in making the arts and humanities central to environmental problem solving in the 21st century.”

Carruth’s appointment expands the number of faculty who are jointly appointed in HMEI to 16, following the appointments of Reed Maxwell and Jerry Zee in September. HMEI also includes more than 120 associated faculty from departments across the Princeton campus whose work focuses on or relates to the environment.

Carruth comes to Princeton from UCLA, where she was a professor in the department of English and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. Her research currently centers on science communication and environmental narrative; the role of artists and writers in American environmental movements; and evolving relationships in the United States between technology and ecology. Carruth co-founded and directed the Laboratory for Environmental Narrative Strategies (LENS) at UCLA, which connects scholars from across disciplines with community partners, journalists and artists for research on — and experimentation with — multimedia environmental narrative.

At Princeton, Carruth is teaching the spring 2021 graduate environmental studies course, “Climate Science and Digital Culture,” which focuses on challenges to communicating climate science in the context of digital-media developments during the past two decades, with a focus on American journalism and social-media cultures. She also will launch an environmental media lab that will experiment in emerging and traditional media of storytelling, from speculative fiction and documentary to animation, interactive design and augmented realty.

“Princeton is so fortunate to have Allison Carruth join us to develop a truly innovative and much-needed interdisciplinary bridge between the sciences and humanities,” said Aisha Beliso-De Jesús, director of the Program in American Studies and professor of American studies. “Her digital storytelling lab — which is artistic, technological and scientific — will allow us to train students on new forms of artistic research and humanities-oriented technology, food studies techniques, and environmental analysis.”

Carruth served as the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow in American Studies at Princeton in the fall 2019 semester. She taught the course “Creative Ecologies: American Environmental Narrative, Media and Art (1980-2020),” in which students explored how writers and artists, alongside scientists and activists, have shaped American environmental thought since the 1980s. One student team in the course created a podcast on local food systems and sustainability, for which they interviewed farmer Jon McConaughy of Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, New Jersey.

“I am absolutely delighted to have Allison Carruth join the faculty at Princeton,” said HMEI Director Michael Celia, the Theodora Shelton Pitney Professor of Environmental Studies and professor of civil and environmental engineering. “She will add tremendous strength to our scholarship in areas related to the environment and the environmental humanities.”

Carruth’s interests coincide with HMEI initiatives related to critical global challenges, including its growing focus on food and the environment and its Environmental Humanities Program, Celia said.

“During her time as the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow, the Princeton community experienced Allison’s unique and incisive thinking on a diverse range of topics,” Celia said. “With Allison now bringing her talent and creativity to Princeton full-time, I am especially excited to have her join the High Meadows Environmental Institute’s incredible group of faculty. I expect Allison to play a central role as HMEI continues to expand our environmental research and scholarship.”

A chapter in Carruth’s upcoming book, “Novel Ecologies” (under contract with University of Chicago Press), informed a public lecture she delivered at Princeton as the fall 2019 Anschutz fellow. “Novel Ecologies” argues that a new imagination of nature has developed out of confrontations over the past four decades between engineering and environmentalism.

Carruth’s previous books include “Global Appetites: American Power and the Literature of Food” (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and “Literature and Food Studies” (Routledge, 2018). She has published over 30 articles in a range of venues and co-edited special issues of the journals Public Culture and American Book Review.

Carruth’s food-studies research brought her to Princeton in 2016 to present a paper titled “The Culinary Lab” at the conference “Critical Consumption: The Future of Food Studies,” organized by the Program in American Studies with support from HMEI, then named the Princeton Environmental Institute.