Nicole M. Merola is head of the department of Literary Arts + Studies and associate professor of Ecocriticism & American Literature. She came to RISD in fall 2005 from the University of Washington in Seattle, where she received her PhD.
Merola’s teaching and research interests encompass 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. Her courses include Contemporary Ecological Fictions, Ecopoems/Ecopoetics, Exploring the Art and Science of Biodiversity in Guyana (a travel course co-taught with Lucy Spelman), Green Cultural Studies: Film, Narrating Evolution, Representing “Unrepresentable” Environments: Climate Change and Theorizing the Anthropocene.
Merola 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 photographer Jill Greenberg’s animal portraits; and on Don DeLillo’s novel Cosmopolis. In 2014 her article “T.C. Boyle’s Neoevolutionary Queer Ecologies: Questioning Species in ‘Descent of Man’ and ‘Dogology’” appeared in the anthology America’s Darwin: Darwinian Theory and US Literary Culture, edited by Tina Gianquitto and Lydia Fisher. Also published in 2014 were the articles “For terror of the deadness beyond: Arctic Environments and Inhuman Ecologies in Michelle Paver’s Dark Matter,” “Materializing a Geotraumatic and Melancholy Anthropocene: Jeanette Winterson’s The Stone Gods” and “Mediating Planetary Attachments and Planetary Melancholy: Lars von Trier’s Melancholia.” An article on teaching climate change in the context of art and design education is forthcoming. Her current research projects focus on the roles literature, film and visual and performance art play in conceptualizing the Anthropocene.