American Society for Environmental History Conference Preview

Between the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series and the Emil and Kathleen Sick Book Series in Western History and Biography, environmental history is a major publishing area for the University of Washington Press. So, we get pretty excited every year when the annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History rolls around. ASEH meets in San Francisco this week and this year we’ll be announcing some major developments in the Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books series.

 We’ve also scheduled a number of author signings for new books and have included the full lineup below. Finally, we’ll be celebrating UW Press author Jay Morton Turner, who will be accepting The Forest History Society’s Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Award for his book, The Promise of Wilderness: American Environmental Politics since 1964 (2012). If you’re headed to San Francisco, be sure to stop by our booth to learn more about these exciting developments at the Press, browse our books, and meet Press authors and staff—we look forward to seeing you there!


3:30 p.m. / Joshua P. Howe, Behind the Curve: Science and the Politics of Global Warming

 Howe explores the history of global warming from its roots as a scientific curiosity to its place at the center of international environmental politics. The book follows the story of rising CO2—illustrated by the now famous Keeling Curve—through a number of historical contexts, highlighting the relationships among scientists, environmentalists, and politicians as those relationships changed over time.

3:30 p.m. / Diana L. Di Stefano, Encounters in Avalanche Country: A History of Survival in the Mountain West, 1820-1920

Encounters in Avalanche Country tells the story of mountain communities’ responses to disaster over a century of social change and rapid industrialization. As mining and railway companies triggered new kinds of disasters, ideas about environmental risk and responsibility were increasingly negotiated by mountain laborers, at elite levels among corporations, and in socially charged civil suits. Disasters became a dangerous crossroads where social spaces and ecological realities collided, illustrating how individuals, groups, communities, and corporate entities were tangled in this web of connections between people and their environment.


10:00 a.m. / William Wyckoff, How to Read the American West: A Field Guide

From deserts to ghost towns, from national forests to California bungalows, many of the features of the western American landscape are well known to residents and travelers alike. But in How to Read the American West, William Wyckoff introduces readers anew to these familiar landscapes. A geographer and an accomplished photographer, Wyckoff offers a fresh perspective on the natural and human history of the American West and encourages readers to discover that history has shaped the places where people live, work, and visit.

10:00 a.m. / William Philpott, Vacationland: Tourism and Environment in the Colorado High Country

Vacationland is more than just the tale of one tourist region. It is a case study of how the consumerism of the postwar years rearranged landscapes and revolutionized American environmental attitudes. Postwar tourists pioneered new ways of relating to nature, forging surprisingly strong personal connections to their landscapes of leisure and in many cases reinventing their lifestyles and identities to make vacationland their permanent home.


10:00 a.m. / Sarah Mittlefeldt, Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics

Mittlefehldt tells the story of the Appalachian Trail’s creation. The project was one of the first in which the National Park Service attempted to create public wilderness space within heavily populated, privately owned lands. Originally a regional grassroots endeavor, under federal leadership the trail project retained unprecedented levels of community involvement. Today the Appalachian Trail remains an unusual hybrid of public and private efforts and an inspiring success story of environmental protection.


10:00 a.m. / Kurkpatrick Dorsey, Whales and Nations: Environmental Diplomacy on the High Seas

Before commercial whaling was outlawed in the 1980s, diplomats, scientists, bureaucrats, environmentalists, and sometimes even whalers themselves had attempted to create an international regulatory framework that would allow for a sustainable whaling industry. In Whales and Nations, Kurkpatrick Dorsey tells the story of the international negotiation, scientific research, and industrial development behind these efforts – and their ultimate failure.

10:00 a.m. / Dawn Day Biehler, Pests in the City: Flies, Bedbugs, Cockroaches, and Rats

From tenements to alleyways to latrines, twentieth-century American cities created spaces where pests flourished and people struggled for healthy living conditions. In Pests in the City, Dawn Day Biehler argues that the urban ecologies that supported pests were shaped not only by the physical features of cities but also by social inequalities, housing policies, and ideas about domestic space.


10:00 a.m. / Brian Allen Drake, Loving Nature, Fearing the State: Environmentalism and Antigovernment Politics before Reagan

Brian Allen Drake shows that right-leaning politicians and activists have shaped American environmental consciousness since the environmental movement’s beginnings. In this wide-ranging history, Drake explores the tensions inherent in balancing an ideology dedicated to limiting the power of government with a commitment to protecting treasured landscapes and ecological health.