Dr Laura Smith
Lecturer in Human Geography
Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK
Laura first joined the department as Lecturer in Human Geography between 2013 and 2016, and returned in January 2018. Before joining Exeter Geography in 2013, she was Lecturer in Human Geography at Oxford Brookes University. Laura received her Ph.D., Masters, and undergraduate degrees from the School of Geography and Planning at Cardiff University.
Laura is a cultural and historical geographer specializing in ecological restoration, environmental history, and 19th and 20th century American literature. She is interested in the intersections between the American nature writing tradition and ecological restoration policy and practice—especially the history and evolution of an ecological restoration sensibility in American nature writing, and how nature writing from across the 19th and 20th centuries has come to take hold as a practice and ideology in mid-20th century and early-21st century ecological restoration programs.
Broad research specialisms:
Ecological restoration and restoration ecology
Nature writing and ecocriticism
C19th and C20th American literature
Ph.D. City and Regional Planning (Cardiff University, 2010)
M.Sc. Social Science Research Methods (Cardiff University, 2005)
B.Sc. (Hons.) Geography (Human) and Planning (Cardiff University, 2004)
Laura is a member of the department’s Life Geographies and Cultural and Historical Geographies Research Groups, and the ECLIPSE Environmental Humanities Reading Group. Her research focuses on themes of:
Laura’s research considers the moral, ethical, theological, and emotive languages that are used to articulate ecological restoration issues and value, specifically the idea of ecological redemption. She is especially interested in the use of redemption motifs in ecological restoration policy.
C19th and C20th American Literature
Laura is interested in the landscapes that have come to be associated with U.S. writers, and how these writers and their works might contribute to wider debates on ecological restoration practice and policy. Her research explores this interplay within the context of environmental organizations with a literary connection to the land.
2017-2020, under contract – Ecological Restoration and the U.S. Nature and Environmental Writing Tradition: A Rewilding of American Letters. Palgrave Macmillan.
Conference, Symposium, and Workshop Presentations
I. Session Convenor
2015 – Ecological Restoration in the Anthropocene session co-organized with Dr. Jonathan Prior, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, University of Exeter, September 2015 Abstract
2016 – ‘The Once and Future Glen: Southwestern Writers on the Promise of a “Glen Canyon Restored.”’ Moralities of Drought session, American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, March 2016 Abstract
2015 – ‘Anticipate Redemption: Theo-Ethical Entanglements in Glen Canyon Restoration.’ Ecological Restoration in the Anthropocene session, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, University of Exeter, September 2015 Abstract
2012 – ‘Seeking Absolution in Restored Nature: Towards an Ethic of Ecological Redemption.’ Ecological Restoration session, Environmental Ethics Initiative conference: Conservation, Restoration and Sustainability: A Call to Stewardship, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, November 2012
2008 – ‘The Geography of Environmental Restoration: Creating a Local Dialect of Nature.’ Environment Research Group event, School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, April 2008
2008 – ‘The Geography of Environmental Restoration: Creating a Local Dialect of Nature.’ Restoration Geographies I session, American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, April 2008 Abstract
III. Invited Talks and Sessions
2016 – ‘The Quiet Politics of Literature and Art in “Glen Canyon Restoration.”’ A Gentle Alertness to Geographies of the (Non)Human & (Ir)Responsibilities seminar, Geography, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, June 2016
2016 – ‘Restor(y)ing the Desert: Ellen Meloy, Terry Tempest Williams, and Bearing Witness in Glen Canyon.’ Vibrant Localism symposium, Exeter Centre for the Literature of Identity, Place, and Sustainability, University of Exeter, June 2016
2016 – ‘Restor(y)ing the C19th Landscapes of Walden: What Would Thoreau Do?’ Garden–Landscape–Landscape-Garden: From 17th-18th Century Theories to Environmental Aesthetics. A Symposium, Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, May 2016
2014 – Chair, Roundtable Discussion, Green Connections: Environmental Response and the Arts. An Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Symposium. English, College of Humanities, University of Exeter, September 2014
Publications by category
Publications by year
Twitter #bookhour Discussion Leader
U.S. Studies Online, British Association for American Studies
Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera (with discussion leaders Lisa M. Dillman, Dr. Francisca Sanchez Ortiz, organizer Dr. Donna Maria Alexander), February 2016 Storify
The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea (with discussion leaders Dr. Gwen Boyle, Dr. Mila Lopez-Palaez Casellas, organizer Dr. Donna Maria Alexander), September 2015 Storify
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