Faculty: Nicole Merola


Nicole M. Merola is the Head of the Department of Literary Arts & Studies and Associate Professor of Ecocriticism and American Literature. She came to RISD in Fall 2005 from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she received her Ph.D.

Nicole's teaching and research interests include literary, visual, and performance-based approaches to climate change; contemporary environmental literary, visual, and material culture; critical animal studies; green film studies; the polar regions; science studies and the intersections of science, literature, and art; the socioecological pasts and presents of Narragansett Bay; and theories of natureculture. In Fall 2013 she is teaching "Representing 'Unrepresentable' Environments: Climate Change."

She has published scholarly essays on Charles Frazier's novel Cold Mountain; on the ways landscape photography can intervene in politico-legal conversations about wilderness preservation; on the social, cultural, and ecological consequences of water mismanagement; and on photographer Jill Greenberg's animal portraits. Her most recent article, "Cosmopolis: Don DeLillo's Melancholy Political Ecology," was published in the December 2012 issue of American Literature.  Another article, "T.C. Boyle's Neoevolutionary Queer Ecologies: Questioning Species in 'Descent of Man' and 'Dogology,'" will appear in the anthology America's Darwin: Darwinian Theory in U.S. Culture, 1859-present. This volume, edited by Tina Gianquitto and Lydia Fisher, will be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2014.

During Summer 2013 Nicole presented two papers at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment Conference, held in Lawrence, Kansas.  One paper examined Jeanette Winterson's novel The Stone Gods and the other looked at Helen Simpson's short story collection In-Flight Entertainment. She also presented a paper on Lars von Trier's film Melancholia at the Society for the Philosophy of Technology Conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal, and went to the Norwegian Arctic to do research on climate change.

Books Nicole is currently reading include: Lauren Berlant's Cruel Optimism, David Christian's Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History, Sianne Ngai's Ugly Feelings, and Sara Wheeler's The Magnetic North: Notes from the Arctic Circle. She just finished Tana French's Broken Harbor and Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and recommends both novels.

Nicole Merola

Nicole Merola

Associate Professor

  • BA, Swarthmore College
  • PHD, University of Washington
  • MA, University of Washington


  • LAEL-LE97
  • LAS-E717
  • LAS-E321
  • LAS-E715
English Foreground Image 5
Students in RISD's liberal arts classes benefit from animated group discussions and thinking about the
meaning and context of their work.