Profile for Kelly Sultzbach

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Kelly Sultzbach

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse

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Specialty area(s)

20th Century British & American Literature, Environmental Literature, Environmental Justice, Ecocriticism, Animal Studies, Climate Literature, Questions of Place and Identity, Law and Literature

Brief biography

I grew up in the American Midwest, Ohio to be exact, with memories of summers camping in parks near Lake Erie.  But my intellectual “growing up” was influenced by the cultures of the East Coast and the West Coast, in states as far flung as Connecticut and Oregon.  These academic communities helped me develop a value for the art of meaningful conversation and research--where being “right” or “wrong” isn't necessarily the goal, but rather the intellectual process of engaging in honest (sometimes difficult, but always considering multiple perspectives) analytical inquiry is valued.  I aim to teach students strategies for working through ambiguity and complexity, so that our goals include finding third solutions, asking better questions, and collaborating on creative ways forward.

My own career has taken a meandering path through lots of interests that I bring together in my scholarly research and the classes I teach at UWL.  After graduating with a B.A. in English from Yale University, I went to law school at University of California, Davis, eager to work in their Civil Rights Clinic representing prisoners.  After spending a couple years at a large law firm, I found myself missing the engagement with “big ideas” and began to wonder if the best way for me to help the cause of good in the world was to empower others to question, analyze, interpret, and ponder universal questions too. 

I had always been interested in issues of nature and place and the works of Virginia Woolf helped me think about my environment as animate, living, and speaking to me in a myriad of voices.  As a result, when I went to the University of Oregon, I got my Ph.D. in 20th Century British and American Literature, with an emphasis in Environmental Literature and Ecocritical theory.  Now, as we become aware that we are living in the era of the Anthropocene and re-considering our relationship with a shifting climate, the tension between economic values and ecological well-being, the intersection between social justice and environmental justice, as well as new scientific verification of the richness of non-human intelligence and culture, the study of what stories we tell about our environment and animal life seems even more significant.  As the Director of Sustainability & Environmental Studies, I seek out interdisciplinary projects and involve students in community engagement activities too.  My first monograph book, Ecocriticism in the Modernist Imagination: Forster, Woolf, and Auden (Cambridge UP) came out in 2016 and I am currently working on a project reconsidering what 20th Century British and American Literature has to tell us about how we envision collective action and environmental justice in the face of environmental crises. 

I truly enjoy being able to renew and recreate our cultural touchstones through teaching. I often learn a lot through the questions my students ask too.  If you share any of these interests, please come see me—I would be delighted to chat.

Current courses at UWL

Fall 2023

ENG 200: Place, Identity, and Human Nature

ENG 387: Environmental Literature & Action (counts towards Sustainability & Environmental Studies minor)



University of Oregon, Ph.D. 
UC Davis, J.D. 
Yale University, B.A. 


Teaching history

ENG 110: College Writing I

ENG 112: College Composition, Advanced Placement

ENG 200: Literature & the Human Experience: Modern Literature & the Animal Mind

ENG 200: Literature & the Human Experience: Place, Identity, and Human Nature

ENG 204: British Literature II: The Country, the City, and Human Nature

ENG 302:  Law & Literature  (This course also counts towards the Legal Studies minor)

ENG 311: Critical Theory: The Power of Making Meaning

ENG 368: British Lit. After 1900: Green Thoughts in a Grey World: Questions of Environment, Trauma, and the Formation of New Identities in 20th & 21st C. British Literature & Culture

ENG 372: American Literature After 1900: American Texts in Dialogue & Debate: Creating the American Story

ENG/ENVS /SJ 387: Environmental Literature (This course also counts towards the Environmental Studies minor and the Social Justice minor)

Professional history

Fulbright Scholar with University of Liverpool, January-July 2019

Invited speaker at: University of Stavanger, Norway; University of St. Andrews, Scotland; University of Galway, Ireland

Research and publishing


Ecocriticism in the Modernist Imagination: Forster, Woolf, and Auden (sole author), Cambridge UP, 2016

The Cambridge Companion to Literature & Climate (co-editor, co-writer of Introduction) Cambridge UP, 2022.


"Staging Collective Action for an Anthropocene Audience in Between the Acts."  Virginia Woolf and the Anthropocene, ed. Peter Adkins, Edinburgh UP, submitted and forthcoming.

“Individual and Collective Action: Climate Action as Narrative.” One of two essays comprising a dialogic chapter. Cambridge Companion to Literature and Climate. Adeline Johns-Putra and Kelly Sultzbach, eds. London: Cambridge UP, 2022.  

“Retreating to the Country: R.C. Sherriff’s Rural Interwar Novels and Environmental Politics.” Modernist Cultures.  Special Issue: “Modernism and the Environment,” Jeremy Diaper, ed. February, 2021.

“How Can Scholarly Work Be Meaningful in an Era of Lost Causes?” Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism.  Special Issue: “Environmental Humanities.” Graham Huggan, ed. Invited article, published online: February 13, 2019. DOI: 10.1080/14688417.2019.1578249, and hardcopy Vol. 23, Nos.1-2, May 2019, pp. 19-38.

“Embodied Modernisms: Ecophenomenology and Trans-Atlantic Modernist Literature.” Understanding Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Understanding Modernism, Bloomsbury Academic Press Series, Ariane Mildenberg, Volume Editor. December 2018.

“Modernist English Fiction.” A Cambridge History of Literature and the Environment. John Parham and Louise Westling, eds. Cambridge UP, 2016.

"The Contrary Nature of Christina Rossetti's Goblin Fruits." Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism. Special Issue: "Victorian Ecology." John Parham, ed. Vol. 14, Summer 2011. 39-56.

"The Chiasmic Embrace of the Natural World in Eudora Welty's Delta Wedding."Southern Literary Journal. 42.1 (2009): 88-101.