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Profile: Susan (Scotti) Parrish

Title: Professor
Ph.D., Stanford  1998
MA U.C. Berkeley, Department of Rhetoric, 1990

Contact Info


4200 AH







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Research Interests

Primary Interests

Broadly conceived, I am interested in the interrelated issues of race, the environment, and epistemology in the Atlantic world from 1492 up through the twentieth century, with a particular emphasis on the plantation zones.  My first book, American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World (UNCP, 2006), involved a study of the Anglophone transatlantic networks and rhetorics of the natural sciences in the Americas, up to the time of the American Revolution.  Recent articles address such Anglo-Atlantic plantation figures as William Byrd II, Robert Beverley, John Gabriel Stedman, and Richard Ligon.  My second book, The Flood Year 1927: A Cultural History(PUP, January, 2017), takes for its subject the most publically engrossing U.S. disaster of the twentieth century. Not only was the "Great Flood of 1927" foundational to the literary careers of Richard Wright and William Faulkner, a significant episode in the journalistic careers of W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Walter White, Walter Benjamin and H.L. Mencken, and a signal event in the histories of Vaudeville and Blues music, but it also gave public urgency to questions about North-South relations, the ongoing unfree status of African Americans, the scientific management of and capital investment in the natural world, and the very nature of industrialism's "second nature."  Central to the book is also an examination of the complex ways in which modern disasters make publics through mediation.

Secondary Interests

Southern Literature; Environmental Justice; non-fiction genres


The Flood Year 1927: A Cultural History (Princeton UP,  January 2017).
American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World (OIEAHC/UNCP, 2006).  Winner of the Jamestown Prize for 2005 and Phi Beta Kappa's Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize for 2006.
Edited Volumes
Robert Beverley’s The History and Present State of Virginia (1705) (OIEAHC/UNCP, 2013).
Articles and Chapters in Journals and Collections
“Richard Wright’s Environments” in ed. Eric D. Lamore, African American Autobiography: Twenty-First Century Contexts and Criticism (U Wisc P, 2016).

As I Lay Dying and the Modern Aesthetics of Ecological Crisis” in ed. John Matthews, The New Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner (Cambridge UP, 2015).

“Zora Neale Hurston and the Environmental Ethic of Risk” in eds. Joni Adamson and Kimberly Ruffin, American Studies, Ecocriticism, and Citizenship: Thinking and Acting in the Local and Global Commons with an Introduction by Philip Deloria (Routledge Press, 2013).
“Embodying African Knowledge in Colonial Surinam: Considering Two William Blake Engravings in Stedman’s 1796 Narrative” in eds., Agnes Lugo-Ortiz and Angela Rosenthal, Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World (1599-1889) (Cambridge UP, 2013). 
“Faulkner and the Outer Weather of 1927,” American Literary History 24.1 (March 2012) special issue entitled “Sustainability in America.”
“Science, Nature, Race” in eds., Nicholas Canny and Philip D. Morgan, The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World, 1450-1850 (Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2011; paper 2013).
“Richard Ligon and the Atlantic Science of Commonwealths” (April, 2010, William and Mary Quarterly). Co-winner of the Lester J. Cappon Prize for best article in the WMQ for 2010.
“Rummaging / in and out of Holds” in a jointly released issue of American Literary History 22.2 (March 2010) and Early American Literature (Spring 2010).
“William Byrd II and the Crossed Languages of Science, Satire, and Empire in British America” in eds., Ralph Bauer and José Antonio Mazzotti, Creole Subjects in the Colonial Americas: Empires, Texts, Identities (OIEAHC/UNCP, 2008).
“Diasporic African Sources of Enlightenment Knowledge” in eds., James Delbourgo and Nicholas Dew, Science and Empire in the Atlantic World (Routledge, 2007).
“Scientific Discourse” in ed. Kevin J. Hayes, Oxford Handbook of Early American Literature (Oxford UP, 2007).
Biographical and Bibliographical Essay on “William Byrd II” for The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume I, 4th Edition (2002).
“Women’s Nature: Curiosity, Pastoral, and the New Science in British America,” Early American Literature 37.2 (UNCP, July 2002), 195-238.
“The Female Opossum and the Nature of the New World,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3d Series, Vol. LIV, No. 3 (July 1997), 475-514 (lead article).  This article was awarded the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture’s Richard L. Morton Award for 1997 and an Honorable Mention for the South-Eastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies’ Percy Adams Prize for 1998.
  • The Flood Year 1927: A Cultural History
  • The History and Present State of Virginia: A New Edition with an Introduction by Susan Scott Parrish
  • American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World

Additional Info

Editorial Board, American Literature, 2012-2014.

Editorial Board, Early American Literature, 2010-.

Editorial Board, Winterthur Portfolio: A Journal of American Material Culture, 2013-2016.

Executive Committee, MLA “American Literature to 1800” Division, 2007-2012.  Secretary, 2010; Chair, 2011.
Council member, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2010-2013. Chair, Publications Committee, 2012-2013.

Director of Undergraduate Studies, UM English, 2007-2008; 2010-2011; 2014-2015.   
Director of the Honors Program, UM English, 2005-2008.
Faculty Advisory Board, LSA Honors Program, 2007-2012.

Executive Committee, UM Institute for the Humanities, 2010-2013.

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