Dr Samantha Walton

Environmental Humanities Fellow
Dr Samantha Walton

Jun 2016 - Aug 2016

Home institution

Bath Spa University


I specialise in twentieth and twenty first century literature, from the modernist period to contemporary experimental writing, and in particular British literature and culture of the 1920s and 1930s. My research is informed by environmental humanities and health humanities perspectives.

In my first monograph, Guilty But Insane: Mind and Law in Golden Age Detective Fiction (OUP, 2015), I examined detective writing in the context of psychological innovation, legal debates and literary modernism. I am now developing a project which explores nature and wellbeing connections in modern and contemporary fiction, poetry, and nature writing. In 2015, I was invited as a Visiting Scholar to the Special Collections Centre at the University of Aberdeen, building aspects of my project concerned with mind and ecology in Scottish fiction.  I am also a co-editor of the ASLE journal, Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, and an ECR member of the AHRC Peer Review College.

I am the current holder of a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award, which is supporting the interdisciplinary environmental humanities events series and conference: ‘Landscaping Change: exploring environmental regeneration and conservation using arts and humanities research methods.’ The series involves interdisciplinary events at the Arnolfini in Bristol, discussing issues concerning soil and water, sustainable transport and urban ecology, from artistic, poetic, activist, and academic perspectives. The series  culminated in a conference in 2016, which involved delegates from academic fields of literature, history, geography, theology, heritage, social science and anthropology; creative practitioners of art, theatre, poetry and digital writing; arts activists and environmental campaign groups.

I’m interested in avant garde and experimental poetry and co-run Sad Press, which specialises in chapbooks and small press editions. I was a Poet in Residence at the ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum in 2013, and in July 2015 was Poet in Residence at SoundEye Poetry Festival in Cork, Ireland.


Ecology and Mind in the work of Nan Shepherd

My project examines Nan Shepherd’s depictions of mind and ecology informed by ecocritical theories of place, belonging, and relations of interdependence with the non-human world. Environmental and Health Humanities approaches will be brought together in order to to enable me to extend recent work on the ‘ecological tradition’ in Scottish literature originating in the mid-nineteenth century, and to explain more precisely how Shepherd’s innovative representations of lived experience connect to biological and psychological understandings of human-nature and mind-body relations in Scottish literature and culture during the 1910s to 1940s. I will examine how psychological developments may have shaped the ontological underpinnings of her writing—in particular Shepherd’s thoughts on ‘bodily thinking’ and the value of sensory and affective engagements with the non-human world—and also enriched her philosophical ideas and environmental ethics.