Literary Arts + Studies


Jonathan Highfield

Jonathan Bishop Highfield (PhD, University of Iowa, 1995) is author of Imagined Topographies: From Colonial Resource to Postcolonial Homeland (Peter Lang, 2012). His recent publications include "Obscured by History: Language, Culture, and Conflict in Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun" in Critical Insights: Cultural Encounters (Salem Press, 2012), "No Longer Praying on Borrowed Wine: Agroforesty and Food Sovereignty in Ben Okri's Famished Road Cycle" in Environment at the Margins: Literary and Environmental Studies in Africa (Ohio University Press, 2011), "Driving the Devil into the Ground: Settler Myth in André Brink's Devil's Valley" in Trauma, Resistance, Reconstruction in Post-1994 South African Writing (Peter Lang, 2010), and "'Relations with Food': Agriculture, Colonialism, and Foodways in the Writing of Bessie Head" in Postcolonial Green: Environmental Politics and World Narratives (University of Virginia Press, 2010). He has published essays in Antipodes, Atlantic Studies, Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, The Jonestown Report, Kunapipi, Passages, and Rupkatha. He is also the co-editor (with Kwadwo Opoku-Agyemang and Dora Edu Buandoh) of The State of the Art(s): African Studies and American Studies in Comparative Perspective (Afram Publications 2006).

Academic research/ areas of interest

 I have widely ranging teaching and research interests, but most of them exist at the intersection between postcolonial studies and ecocriticism. When I teach Moby Dick, for instance, I try to focus students' attention at the movement of people and goods in the global capitalist system surrounding whaling, and what Melville's descriptions of the Pequod, its crew, and the whales they are hunting say about global social and economic relations in the mid-nineteenth century. I also want them to think about how the multiplicity of voices reflect the life in a New England town engaged in the most lucrative capitalist venture of the age. My research interests also exist in this nexus of colony and ecology. I am currently working on a project involving foodways and agricultural production across Africa, and I have written on the role of animals in the nation formation of settler colonies.