Dr Adeline Johns-Putra

Research Interests

  • Ecocriticism
  • Romanticism, esp. women’s writing
  • Epic literature
  • Genre theory

Research Collaborations

In addition to being on the executive committee of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK and Ireland (ASLE-UKI), I am also a member of the editorial board for the journal Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism

My grants include:

  • From Climate to Landscape: Imagining the Future (2009-12), European Social Fund  (co-investigator)
  • Understanding Landscape through Creative Auto-Ethnographies (2007), AHRC network (co-investigator)
  • The History of the Epic (2004), AHRB research leave

In 2012, I held a Visiting Fellowship at the Australian National University.
I welcome enquiries from doctoral students interested in working in any aspect of environmental criticism, Romanticism or epic poetry.

PhD Supervision

Primary supervisor:

  • Emma Curran: ‘Faces of Nature: Feminine Personification in Women’s Romantic Poetry 1780-1815’.
  • Jonathan Taylor: 'Losing Definition: The Changing Meaning of Epic, 1675-1795'

Deputy supervisor:

  • Jane Clayton: 'Marriage and the Minor Women in the Paston Letters' (primary supervisor: Professor Diane Watt)
  • Emily Fisher: ‘The Spectralisation of American Sons: Structuring Homeliness in the Contemporary American Novel’ (primary supervisor: Professor Bran Nicol)
  • Hajar Mahfoodh: 'Resistance in Modern Arab Literature' (primary supervisor: Dr Donna McCorrmack)
  • M. E. Rolle: 'Cli-fi and the Protest Novel' (primary supervisor: Angela Szczepaniak)


  • Jane Costin: ‘D. H. Lawrence’s Quest for Blood Consciousness: From Cornwall to America’.
  • Vanessa Hager: ‘The Search for the Thing Itself: Psychoanalysis, Agamben, and the Literary Quest’.
  • Pauline Liu-Devereux: ‘Galleries and Drift: Mapping Undermined Landscapes’. AHRC-funded.
  • Louise Squire: ‘The Subject Reconsidered: Death-Facing and Its Challenges in Contemporary Environmental Crisis Fiction’.

Contact Me


My office hours

I currently work part-time for the University of Surrey. Please email me for an appointment.


Journal articles

  • Johns-Putra A. (2018) 'The Rest is Silence: Postmodern and Postcolonial Possibilities in Climate Change Fiction'. Johns Hopkins University Press Studies in the Novel,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Climate change is one of the most prominent symptoms of an age of unprecedented human impact on the biosphere—the age sometimes called the Anthropocene. In identifying humanity as a geological agent, the term “Anthropocene” exposes the fallacy of human exceptionalism, reminding us of the entangled nature of human and nonhuman agency, and the vast and decidedly nonhuman proportions of human action. For, as climate change and other Anthropocene events make clear, the effect of humans on their environment will far outlast human dimensions of individual lifetimes and even historical epochs: some of the impacts of humans’ activity—for example, species depletion—are irrevocable; others, such as polar ice-melt, are reversible (if at all) over immense durations of time. But in its recognition of the imbrication of human action with the biosphere (in all its human and nonhuman complexity), the concept of the Anthropocene captures a profoundly and existentially disturbing paradox. That is, even as we must confront the damaging illusion of human agency existing aloof and apart from nonhuman “nature,” we must also consider how to recuperate a nuanced view of human agency that enables humans to engage more fully with the unprecedented crisis now engulfing human and nonhuman organisms and environments.

  • Johns-Putra AG. (2017) 'Borrowing the World: Climate Change Fiction and the Problem of Posterity'. Institut für Germanistik Metaphora,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    In 1971, activist-author Wendell Berry, writing about the Red River Gorge in his beloved Kentucky, invoked the trope of a natural world not granted by our forebears but on loan from our descendants—the biosphere held in trust, as it were, for generations to come (Unforeseen Wilderness 26). The re-publication of part of Berry’s work in Audubon magazine soon after (Berry, ‘One-Inch Journey’ 4) led to a mis-attribution of them to John James Audubon, and, in 1973, when Dennis Hall, an official at Michigan’s Office of Land Use, adapted them without citation, he was erroneously credited also. Similarly, Australian Environment Minister Moses Cass’s use of it in a speech to the OECD in 1974 (qtd. in O’Toole) meant that the adage has sometimes been ascribed to him. From the 1980s onwards, the phrase was quoted in speeches and reprinted on book-jackets and in report by-lines—by, among others, representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wildlife Fund (Talbot 495). Paul and Anne Erhlich attributed it to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (26) and an article in the Christian Science Monitor (Jones 23) assigned it to environmentalist Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute. The Los Angeles Times asserted that it was an Amish saying (Riley 5), United States Secretary of State James Baker named Ralph Waldo Emerson as its author (qtd. in Keyes L10), and the United States Council on Environmental Quality claimed the source to be Chief Seattle (qtd. in Keyes L10). 2 I have described these mis-attributions in detail not simply to offer an object lesson in the portability of provenance, but to suggest that this pithy aphorism has been so durable, so willingly and wishfully assigned to a range of wise and venerable sources, because it strikes a deep and resonant chord. The idea that our relationship with the biosphere is automatically a matter of posterity is a powerful one, and this quotation in particular achieves several important rhetorical tricks. It collapses a web of obligations—the interspecial and the intergenerational—into a single immemorial and apparently unthinkable strand of time. We are not simply construed as guardians of the environment for the environment’s sake; we are explicitly called on to steward it for this vastly distant future, while being reminded of our debt to those in the past. We are thus placed in a grand historical chain of obligations. This is a different version of posterity from John Passmore

  • Johns-Putra AG. (2016) '"My Job is to Take Care of You": Climate Change, Humanity, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road'. Johns Hopkins University Press MFS Modern Fiction Studies, 62 (3), pp. 519-540.


    Though it never names its ecological catastrophe, The Road is increasingly read as a climate change novel. I explore how this narrative of father and son walking a dead landscape speaks to contemporary environmental concerns. Adapting apocalyptic techniques, it contrasts a lost humanity (that is, being both human and humane) against present inhumanity, locating the measure of humanity in the father's care for his son. Thus, the novel resonates with contemporary anxieties about caring for the future, anxieties often expressed in the figure of the child. The novel's conclusion, however, affords the opportunity of rising above such anxieties.

  • Johns-Putra AG. (2016) 'Climate Change in Literature and Literary Studies: From Cli-fi, Climate Change Theatre and Ecopoetry to Ecocriticism and Climate Change Criticism'. Wiley Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: WIREs Climate Change, 7 (2), pp. 266-282.


    In the last five years, climate change has emerged as a dominant theme in literature and, correspondingly, in literary studies. Its popularity in fiction has given rise to the term cli-fi, or climate change fiction, and speculation that this constitutes a distinctive literary genre. In theatre, the appearance of several big-name productions from 2009 to 2011 has inspired an increase in climate change plays. There has been a growing trend, too, of climate change poetry, thanks to the rise of ecopoetry (poetry that exhibits ecological awareness and engages with the world’s current state of environmental degradation) and the launch of some key climate change poetry initiatives in the media. This prevalence of climate change literature has brought about a greater engagement with climate change in literary studies, notably the environmentally-oriented branch of literary studies called ecocriticism. The increasing number of ecocritical analyses of climate change literature, particularly novels, is helping to shape a canon of climate change fiction. In a separate development, there has been greater interest in the phenomenon of climate change in literary or critical theory (the branch of literary studies concerned with literary concepts and philosophies rather than with literary texts). This development—centred on the study of climate change as a philosophical or existentialist problem—is sometimes termed climate change criticism or critical climate change.

  • Johns-Putra AG. (2015) 'Historicizing the Networks of Ecology and Culture: Eleanor Anne Porden and Nineteenth-Century Climate Change'. Oxford University Press ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 22 (1), pp. 27-46.
  • Bergthaller H, Emmett R, Johns-Putra AG, Kneitz A, Lidström S, McCorristine S, Pérez Ramos I, Phillips D, Rigby K, Robin L. (2014) 'Mapping Common Ground: Ecocriticism, Environmental History, and the Environmental Humanities'. the University of New South Wales, Australia. Environmental Humanities, 5 (1), pp. 261-276.
  • Bergthaller H, Emmett R, Johns-Putra AG, Kneitz A, Lidstrom S, McCorristine S, Ramos I, Phillips D, Rigby K, Robin L. (2014) 'Mapping Common Ground: Ecocriticism, Environmental History, and the Environmental Humanities'. Duke University Press Environmental Humanities, 5 (1), pp. 261-276.


    The emergence of the environmental humanities presents a unique opportunity for scholarship to tackle the human dimensions of the environmental crisis. It might finally allow such work to attain the critical mass it needs to break out of customary disciplinary confines and reach a wider public, at a time when natural scientists have begun to acknowledge that an understanding of the environmental crisis must include insights from the humanities and social sciences. In order to realize this potential, scholars in the environmental humanities need to map the common ground on which close interdisciplinary cooperation will be possible. This essay takes up this task with regard to two fields which have embraced the environmental humanities with particular fervor, namely ecocriticism and environmental history. After outlining an ideal of slow scholarship which cultivates thinking across different spatiotemporal scales and seeks to sustain meaningful public debate, the essay argues that both ecocriticism and environmental history are concerned with practices of environing: each studies the material and symbolic transformations by which "the environment" is configured as a space for human action. Three areas of research are singled out as offering promising models for cooperation between ecocriticism and environmental history: eco-historicism, environmental justice, and new materialism. Bringing the fruits of such efforts to a wider audience will require environmental humanities scholars to experiment with new ways of organizing and disseminating knowledge.

  • Johns-Putra A. (2013) 'A New Critical Climate'. University of Nebraska Press Symplokē, 21 (1-2), pp. 7-10.
  • Johns-Putra A. (2013) 'Environmental Care Ethics: Notes toward a New Materialist Critique'. University of Nebraska Press Symplokē, 21 (1-2), pp. 125-135.


    To scan the now ubiquitous definition put forward by the Brundtland Commission is to realize that our construction of “sustainability” is driven by a notion of care—care for the nonhuman environment enfolded with a concern for our human descendants. The rhetoric around our ideal response to climate change structures it as an ethical response. This essay proposes that, while so much of the ontology of the global ecological crisis called climate change has been closely interrogated, the ethics of care demanded in the name of that crisis has not been scrutinized in the same way. By “care,” I mean a feeling of concern for the wellbeing and needs of others; by “care ethics,” I mean an ethical position that takes this affective concern as its basis for action.1 Given that environmental ethics—the question of human conduct and its effect on the human and nonhuman environment—is a profoundly ontological project, accounting as it must for the perceived ontological difference between the human and nonhuman, this lack of ontological scrutiny is conspicuous, to say the least. This essay thus offers a theorization of the care ethics of climate change and sustainability. It considers this through the ontological project of new materialism, paying attention to the new materialist tendency to discuss ontology as agency, and being in terms of becoming. I propose that care too has to be discerned as always becoming, that it is to be considered—to invoke Heidegger—not as ontic but as ontological. And yet, pace Heidegger, I suggest that, in an environmental ethics of care, care is more fruitfully thought of not as a condition for ontology (as in Heidegger’s Sorge) but as itself deserving of ontological query. Care is not the means by which agency occurs; it is itself agential.

  • Johns-Putra A. (2012) 'Eleanor Anne Porden's Coeur de Lion (1822): History, Epic and Romance'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Women's Writing, 19 (3), pp. 351-371.


    This article examines the medievalist epic Coeur de Lion (1822), by Eleanor Anne Porden (1795-1825). The author reads this poem not simply for the way it draws on exhaustive research, but for the way it treats this research, invoking yet sidestepping the demands of historical accuracy. Specifically, Porden grapples with the challenges of representing Britain's chivalric past, exploring whether to adopt the feminized trappings of romance or to align herself with the objectivity of historical epic. In choosing the latter, Porden must struggle, further, with the challenge of transforming the historical Richard, moral blind spots and all, into an acceptable epic hero. Porden's struggle, heroic in itself, cannot help but work its way into the text. As such tensions come increasingly to express themselves as a conflicted relationship between poet and hero, Porden seeks resolution or, at the very least, relief in romance. © 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

  • Trexler A, Johns-Putra A. (2011) 'Climate Change in Literature and Literary Criticism'. Royal Metereological Society/ Wiley Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 2 (2), pp. 185-200.


    This article provides an overview of climate change in literature, focusing on the representation of climate change in Anglophone fiction. It then evaluates the way in which these fictional representations are critiqued in literary studies, and considers the extent to which the methods and tools that are currently employed are adequate to this new critical task. We explore how the complexity of climate change as both scientific and cultural phenomenon demands a corresponding degree of complexity in fictional representation. For example, when authors represent climate change as a global, networked, and controversial phenomenon, they move beyond simply employing the environment as a setting and begin to explore its impact on plot and character, producing unconventional narrative trajectories and innovations in characterization. Then, such creative complexity asks of literary scholars a reassessment of methods and approaches. For one thing, it may require a shift in emphasis from literary fiction to genre fiction. It also particularly demands that environmental criticism, or ecocriticism, moves beyond its long-standing interest in concepts of 'nature' and 'place', to embrace a new understanding of the local in relation to the global. We suggest, too, that there are synergies to be forged between these revisionary moves in ecocriticism and developments in literary critical theory and historicism, as these critical modes begin to deal with climate change and reimagine themselves in turn. © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

  • Johns-Putra A. (2011) '"Blending Science with Literature": The Royal Institution, Eleanor Anne Porden and The Veils'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Nineteenth-Century Contexts, 33 (1), pp. 35-52.
  • Johns-Putra A. (2010) 'Ecocriticism, Genre, and Climate Change: Reading the Utopian Vision of Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital Trilogy'. Routledge, Taylor & Francis English Studies, 91 (7), pp. 744-760.


    This paper calls for a rapprochement between ecocriticism and what it often disregards as theory. Specifically, it argues for the relevance of genre theory, which explores the dynamic relations of author, reader, text, and the worlds they inhabit. Texts are locatable within the environment of a given genre; further, generic environments reciprocally shape, structure, and determine our sense of the wider environment. This paper offers a generically inflected reading of Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capital trilogy, in which the representation of climate change is understood as a complex set of negotiations within the generic space of utopian science fiction. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.

  • Brace C, Johns-Putra A. (2010) 'Recovering Inspiration in the Spaces of Creative Writing'. Wiley & Blackwell Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 35 (3), pp. 399-413.


    This paper emerges from a project conducted between academics in literary studies and geography that explored the creative process amongst writers who write for pleasure. It seeks to understand writing as creative process as well as simply representation, recovering process as a part of creative making. Building on a long tradition of theorising process and creativity in literary studies, which has cumulatively discredited the idea of inspiration, this paper asks whether a fresh engagement between geography, literary studies and other work on creative writing can provide new insights into the creative process. Recognising that questions of representation have been pursued with different trajectories in geography and literary studies, this paper attempts to identify our common intellectual concerns as well as asking whether a rapprochement between questions of representation and non-representational theory can provide the stimulus for an enlivened account that recovers the place of inspiration in creative writing. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) 2010.

  • Johns-Putra A. (2010) 'Satire and Domesticity in Late Eighteenth-Century Women's Poetry: Minding the Gap'. Wiley-BLackwell Publishing Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies, 33 (1), pp. 67-87.
  • Johns-Putra AG. (2006) 'Home and the Harem: Early Nineteenth-Century Orientalist Representations of Women by Women'. Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, 2 (3)
  • Johns-Putra AG. (1999) 'Christ as Woman's seed: Romantic Women Poets Rewriting the Bible'. Prism(s): essays in romanticism, , pp. 59-81.
  • Johns-Putra AG. (1999) 'Satirising the Courtly Woman and Defending the Domestic Woman: Mock Epics and Women Poets in the Romantic Age'. Romanticism on the Net,


  • . (2017) Literature and Sustainability: Concept, Text and Culture. Manchester University Press


    In today’s sociopolitical world, sustainability has become a ubiquitous term. It is also an intriguing term, incorporating both an immensity of vision and the minutiae of day-to-day life. But its slipperiness is manifest; does it mean the same thing to a farmer, a conservationist, a politician, or a multinational cooperation? Is sustainability a term whose meaning can be sustained? While much is written on sustainability across various domains, it has received little attention from literary scholarship, including from the burgeoning field of ecocriticism. One reason for this is that sustainability is often discussed in the context of broader issues such as food security or climate change. Another is the term’s contested usage, for example, in the disparity between its potential for safeguarding planetary diversity – a concern of many ecocritics – and its vulnerability to cooption within a neoliberal paradigm, whereby what seems mainly to be sustained is the possibility for business-as-usual. Sustainability is a profoundly problematic term. Yet, this in itself should invite literary commentary; indeed, such a response is now emerging. This collection represents the responses of leading and upcoming scholars to the question of how literary scholarship might engage with the sustainability debate. The essays in this book explore a range of approaches, from applying tools of literary enquiry in order to interrogate sustainability’s paradoxes, to investigating the ways in which literature envisages sustainability or plays out its tropes. For academic researchers and advanced students in environmental literary studies, this book offers a critical approach to sustainability.

  • Brace C, Johns-Putra A. (2010) Process. Landscape and Text.. Amsterdam : Rodopi 10


    While the relationship between place and creative effort has been the focus of pronounced new interest in various disciplines, the contours and co-ordinates of the process by which one informs the other, by which landscape shapes text and vice versa, have yet to be delineated in any systematic fashion. This volume sheds light on that process, investigating the ways in which it is both reciprocal and interstitial: how does text shape our perception of landscape as much as it is shaped by it, and how do we account for the points at which text and landscape intersect? The first part of the volume introduces us to the question of process in landscape and literary studies; the second part examines the moments within the process by which landscape and text come to bear upon each other; and the final part deals with the relationship between the material experience of landscape and the formal characteristics of a given text, using this to reflect back on the processes of landscape perception and creativity. This volume spans the disciplines of geography, literary studies, and the visual arts. It also brings together scholarly and creative perspectives, interspersing academic commentary with poetic-photographic essays.

  • Johns-Putra A. (2006) The History of the Epic. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan
  • Johns-Putra A. (2001) Heroes and Housewives: Women's Epic Poetry and Domestic Ideology in the Romantic Age (1780-1835). Bern : Peter Lang

Book chapters

  • Johns-Putra AG. (2014) 'Care and Gender in a Climate-Changed Future: Maggie Gee's The Ice People'. in Canavan G, Robinson KS (eds.) Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction Middletown, CT : Wesleyan University Press Article number 7 , pp. 127-142.
  • Johns-Putra A. (2011) 'Key Critical Concepts and Topics'. in Chaplin S, Faflak J (eds.) The Romanticism Handbook London : Continuum / Bloomsbury Publishing Article number 5 , pp. 101-118.


    This chapter is divided into nine sections, each providing an overview of a key critical concept for the study of Romanticism: canon, class, gender, imagination, nature, Orientalism, revolution, science and slavery. In each of these nine sections, the concept in question is discussed in terms of how it developed over the Romantic period in the work of both major and minor Romantic writers. Each topic is also discussed with regard to the changing landscape of contemporary Romantic scholarship and criticism.

  • Brace C, Johns-Putra A. (2010) 'The Importance of Process'. in Brace C, Johns-Putra A (eds.) Process: Landscape and Text Amsterdam : Rodopi 10, pp. 29-44.


    This chapter examines the process by which landscape and (written) text inter-relate, and therefore attends to the process of literary creativity. It explores the apparently ineffable, unknowable and ‘unwritable’ elements of the creative process. It focuses first on the writer as an agent in that process and then, via writers’ accounts of landscape and text, considers the creative process in terms of a dialectic between two phases: a conscious, reflective phase of observing, planning, and researching; and an unconscious, unreflective phase often designated as ‘inspiration’. That second phase becomes the locus of the ineffable aspect of creativity. By considering these two phases within a dialectic, we move closer towards an account of the unwritable aspect of the creative process. Thus, we respond, too, to the tension between representational and non-representational theories of landscape in cultural geography. In the final analysis, we offer two ways of approaching and discussing landscape and text based on two ways of constructing the creative dialectic – the one dealing with the moments at which landscape and text inform each other, and the other treating of coincidences between literary and geographical forms.

  • Johns-Putra AG. (2007) '"Anna Seward's Translations of Horace: Poetic Dress, Poetic Matter and the Lavish Paraphrase'. in Dow G (ed.) Translators, Interpreters, Mediators: Women Writers 1700-1900 Oxford : Peter Lang , pp. 111-128.
  • Johns-Putra AG. (2006) 'Gendering Telemachus: Anna Seward and the Epic Rewriting of Fenelon's Telemaque'. in Schweizer B (ed.) Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, 1621-1982 Aldershot : Ashgate , pp. 85-97.

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