Dr Sarah Daw

BA (HONS)(Exon.), MA(Exon.), PhD(Exon.)

  • BS8 1TB

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Personal profile

Research interests

Current Major Research Project

Unknowing Nature: The Development of Ecological Thought in British and American Science and Literature from 1945

I joined the University of Bristol in November 2017 as Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow to research my second project. This work traces the influence of twentieth-century scientific advances on the evolution of depictions of ecology in British and American poetry from 1945. It seeks to establish that the widespread popularisation of new ideas in nuclear and quantum physics, and their philosophical implications, have had a substantial and lasting impact on changing literary depictions of the human and its relationship to the environment from 1945. My interdisciplinary, ecocritical methodology places popular science writing, journalism and poetry into dialogue. In doing so, my research highlights the continuing legacy of ideas derived from mid-century quantum science within contemporary attempts by humanities scholars to theorise the Anthropocene and anthropogenic Climate Change.

This project will culminate in a monograph that provides a comprehensive exploration of changing representations of Nature in Transatlantic literature and science from 1945. The book will also offer substantial reflection on the powerful, yet often overlooked, legacy of the mid-twentieth-century period within the contemporary Environmental Humanities.


Daw, S, Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

My first monograph, Writing Nature in Cold War American Literature, was published with Edinburgh University Press in 2018.

In an expansion and development of my PhD research, Writing Nature represents the first book-length ecocritical study of Cold War literature. Deploying an ecocritical methodology that draws on Timothy Morton’s “dark ecology” and on New Materialist ecocriticism, the book uncovers the widespread emergence of ecological depictions of the human relationship to Nature in American literature from 1945 to 1971. With chapters on a wide range of writers including Paul Bowles, J. D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Mary McCarthy, the study argues that Rachel Carson’s seminal work of environmental history, Silent Spring (1962), can be re-considered as part of a developing trajectory of ecological depictions of Nature in American literature written after 1945.

Previous Research Fellowships

Before coming to the University of Bristol, I held two consecutive Research Fellowships at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh (2016-2017).


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