Place Studies

Golden prairie landscape under a clear blue sky
Place Studies
A place-based environmental arts and humanities area of emphasis.

The University of Nebraska English Department has had a long-standing commitment to Great Plains studies. For decades, we have taught a variety of courses on Great Plains literature and culture.

The Place Studies program encompasses all major areas of our department: creative writing, composition and rhetoric, digital humanities, and literary and cultural studies. Find out what our faculty, students, and alumni are accomplishing within the field, and explore what Place Studies in the English department at UNL has to offer current and prospective students.

A human community, if it is to last long, must exert a sort of centripetal force, holding local soil and local memory in place. Wendell BerryThe Work of Local Culture

Our department was instrumental in the foundation of The Center for Great Plains Studies, the Plains Humanities Alliance, the Nebraska Writing Project and the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. In addition, we serve as the home for the Cather Project and the journal Western American Literature. Building on that foundation, and inspired by innovations in ecocriticism and place-conscious pedagogy, in recent years we have expanded our focus to include place-conscious and ecocritical approaches to the literature of many other regions of the world, from Ireland to Africa, India to Australia.

Our faculty and graduate students work in a wide variety of areas, including ecocriticism, ecopoetics, rural education, ecocomposition, postcolonial and settler-colonial studies, bioregionalism, Great Plains studies, Native American studies, Chicano/Latino studies, Afro-Carribean studies, digital humanities, Cather Studies, the Nebraska Writing Project, spatial studies, animal (and plant) studies, and Medieval/Renaissance studies.

The most important function of literature today is to redirect human consciousness to a full consideration of its place in a threatened natural world. Glen Love"Revaluing Nature: Toward an Ecological Criticism"

We provide many opportunities for students to enhance their Place Studies curriculum through participation in the Great Plains Studies certificate, the Nebraska Writing Project, and other campus-based organizations that can be found on our resources page. Moreover, the city of Lincoln and its surrounding environs offer much in the way of recreation and local, environmental engagement for students.

Events and Speakers

We regularly host visiting scholars and writers and organize or participate in a variety of seminars, symposia, and similar events. In addition, we regularly participate in the Center for Great Plains Studies events, seminars and symposia. Here are just a few of our past speakers and visiting scholars:

Photo of Barry Lopez

Barry Lopez

September 2013
Photo of Mark Tredinnick

Mark Tredinnick

March 2011
Photo of Mandy Martin and Guy Fitzhardinge

Mandy Martin and Guy Fitzhardinge

October 2011