Kathleen Burns

My teaching and research interests focus on transatlantic literature from the mid-nineteenth century to present, with areas of specialization in the environmental humanities, science studies, gender and sexuality, and visual/media studies. In my teaching and research, I use interdisciplinary tools to uncover how cosmologies of science—the storied and material histories we tell to make sense of the world—have shaped cultural values and worldviews on both sides of the Atlantic, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

 My dissertation shows how stories of plants in Western science, literature and beyond are central to modern theories and representations of biological life and the human. What emerges from my research is a new history of modern science that demonstrates the centrality of plants in giving rise to and normalizing biological narratives of gender and racial difference. Through novels, films, scientific monographs and more, I show how stories of plants negotiate the parameters and scope of how science defines life—of how alive, intelligent, and even political given subjects are understood to be.

Current Research Interests

Contemporary American and Anglophone Literature
Environmental and Blue Humanities
Science Studies

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

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