My research brings together the environmental humanities and health humanities, with particular interest in ecocriticism and the politics and history of ‘wellbeing’. I am the director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities. As a literature scholar, I specialise in modern and contemporary British literature, with a focus on psychology and environmentalism; experimental poetics, fiction of the 1920s and 1930s; and the Scottish novelist and nature writer, Nan Shepherd. I co-edit the journal Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism and will become President of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE UKI) in 2023. I also write poetry, prose and creative non-fiction, and regularly speak at literary festivals, cultural venues and in the media about my research and writing.
My most recent book, Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure, was published by Bloomsbury UK as a trade non-fiction title in 2021, and in French, Spanish and Italian translation in 2022. A blend of nature writing, cultural history, science and polemic, it tells a long and cross-cultural history of the ‘nature-wellbeing’ connection, investigating the science and cultural backdrop to this relationship and reflecting on how mental health is entangled with ecological and economic crisis under late capitalism. In its earliest stages, this work was supported by an Early Career Leadership Fellowship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I was also grateful to receive a Carson Writing Fellowship at the Rachel Carson Centre, LMU to focus on my manuscript between December 2018 and May 2019. I have spoken about this book at literary festivals, bookshops and on podcasts, including BBC Green Thinking, Lighthouse Books, and Tender Buttons.
In 2020, I published my second book, The Living World: Nan Shepherd and Environmental Thought (Bloomsbury). The first book to examine Shepherd's writing through an ecocritical lens, it proposes that Shepherd's ways of relating to complex, interconnected ecologies predate many of the core themes and concerns of the multi-disciplinary environmental humanities, and may inform their future development. This work was supported by a Postdoctoral and then an Environmental Humanities research fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, and a Visiting Scholarship in the Special Collections Centre at the University of Aberdeen, exploring Nan Shepherd’s letters and editorial archive. I have spoken about Nan Shepherd’s writing at mountain festivals in Kendal and Braemar, on BBC Winterwatch, at academic conferences and university reading series and at public arts and science cross-over events like super/collider.
In my first monograph, Guilty But Insane: Mind and Law in Golden Age Detective Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2015), I examined detective writing in the context of psychological innovation, legal debates and literary modernism. I’ve also published articles and book chapters on ecological crime fiction, Anthropocene feminism, ecorecovery memoir, war trauma and ecology, and the literature of women walking.
My research into environment crisis blends critical and creative approaches. In 2015, I received a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award for the project ‘Landscaping Change: exploring environmental regeneration and conservation using arts and humanities research methods.’ The funding supported events at the Arnolfini and Hamilton House in Bristol, exploring issues including soil degradation, water relations, sustainable transport and urban ecology from artistic, poetic, activist, and academic perspectives. In March 2016, the Landscaping Change conference facilitated interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration, featuring delegates from academic fields of literature, history, geography, theology, heritage, social science and anthropology; creative practitioners of art, theatre, poetry and digital writing; arts activists and environmental campaign groups. These events sparked exciting new collaborations, including an ecopoetic sound poem written inspired by the Bath-Bristol Railway Path, co-produced with acoustic geographer Jonathan Prior, and a poetry and practice-based collaboration with environmental artist and researcher, Sage Brice.
As a poet, I’m interested in avant garde and experimental writing. I published my debut collection Self Heal in 2018 (Boiler House Press), and my ecogothic pamphlet Bad Moon in 2020 (Spam Press). I co-run Sad Press, which specialises in pamphlets, translations and anthologies of new writing.
I currently supervise doctoral research on: poetry mentoring, experimental queer poetry, mountain literature, working class ecocriticism and literature of extinction. I am always interested in hearing from prospective PhD students hoping to work in any of the fields outlined above, and also:
• Experimental ecopoetry
• Modernist and ‘middlebrow’ women writers of the early 20th century, especially Scottish authors
• Mental illness and wellbeing in literature
• Crime fiction, especially of the Golden Age
• Health and environmental humanities cross-over projects
• Nature writing
- PhD University of Edinburgh
- MSc Birkbeck, University of London
- BA (Hons) King's College London.
- Certificate in Professional Learning in Higher Education, Bath Spa University 2016.
- Co-editor, Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, the journal of ASLE-UK
- ASLE UKI - Member and from 2023, President.
Areas of expertise
- Writing and the environment
- Landscape in literature
- Crime fiction
- Interwar modernisms
- Scottish women writers
- Psychology and literature
- Innovative poetry, 20th and 21st century.
Current and previous modules at Bath Spa
MA in Environmental Humanities
• Environmental Writing and Ecocriticism (co-teaching)
BA in English Literature
• Literature and Psychology (module leader, level 6)
• Writing and the Environmental Crisis (module leader, level 6)
• Reading Communities (module leader level 5)
Research and academic outputs
Walton, S (2021) Everybody needs beauty: in search of the nature cure. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781526620705
Walton, S (2020) The living world: Nan Shepherd and environmental thought. Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 9781350153226
Walton, S (2018) Self heal. Boiler House Press, Norwich. ISBN 9781911343462
Walton, S, ed. (2016) Landscaping change: an anthology of writing and images. Sad Press, Bristol.
Walton, S (2015) Guilty but insane: mind and law in golden age detective fiction. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780198723325
Walton, S (2013) Amaranth, unstitched. Punch Press.
Walton, S (2022) 'Eco-recovery memoir and the medical environmental humanities.' In: Slovic, S, Rangarajan, S and Sarveswaran, V, eds. The Bloomsbury handbook to the medical-environmental humanities. Bloomsbury Academic, London, pp. 97-115. ISBN 9781350197305
Walton, S (2020) 'Feminism's critique of the Anthropocene.' In: Cooke, J, ed. The new feminist literary studies. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 113-128. ISBN 9781108471930
Walton, S (2019) 'Body burdens: the materiality of work in Rita Wong's 'Forage'.' In: Walton, J.L and Luker, E, eds. Poetry and work: work in modern and contemporary Anglophone poetry. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 263-290. ISBN 9783030261245
Walton, S (2018) 'Studies in green: teaching ecological crime fiction.' In: Beyer, C, ed. Teaching crime fiction. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, pp. 115-130. ISBN 9783319906072
Walton, S (2018) 'Ecopoetry.' In: Castree, N, Hulme, M and Proctor, J.D, eds. Companion to environmental studies. Routledge, Abingdon, pp. 393-398. ISBN 9781138192201
Landscaping change: exploring the transformation, reconstitution and disruption of environments through the arts, humanities and social sciences
Walton, S (2017) 'Landscaping change: exploring the transformation, reconstitution and disruption of environments through the arts, humanities and social sciences.' In: Where we live now: perspectives on place and policy. British Academy, London, pp. 52-55.
Walton, S (2016) 'Cider with Grundy: on the community orchard in Ambridge.' In: Courage, C, Hadlam, N and Matthews, P, eds. The Archers in fact and fiction: academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire. Peter Lang, Oxford, pp. 129-137. ISBN 9781787071193
Walton, S (2015) 'Scottish modernism, kailyard fiction and the woman at home.' In: Macdonald, K and Christoph, S, eds. Transitions in middlebrow writing, 1880-1930. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 141-160. ISBN 9781137486769
Walton, S (2014) 'Going out, going alone: modern subjectivities in rural Scotland, 1900-1921.' In: Goodman, G and Mathieson, C, eds. Gender and space in rural Britain: 1840-1920. Pickering and Chatto, London. ISBN 978-1848934405
Marselle, M.R et al (2021) 'Pathways linking biodiversity to human health: a conceptual framework.' Environment International, 150. e106420. ISSN 0160-4120
"Slow motion cucumber decay in fridge": ecology, materiality and recycling in Peter Manson’s 'Adjunct: an undigest'
Walton, S (2019) '"Slow motion cucumber decay in fridge": ecology, materiality and recycling in Peter Manson’s 'Adjunct: an undigest'.' Journal of British and Irish Innovative Poetry, 11 (1). ISSN 1758-972X
Nature trauma: ecology and the returning soldier in First World War English and Scottish fiction, 1918-1932’
Walton, S (2019) 'Nature trauma: ecology and the returning soldier in First World War English and Scottish fiction, 1918-1932’.' Journal of Medical Humanities. ISSN 1041-3545
Walton, J.L and Walton, S (2018) 'Introduction to Green Letters: crime fiction and ecology.' Green Letters, 22 (1). pp. 2-6. ISSN 2168-1414
Walton, S (2018) 'Framing the crisis.' Green Letters, 22 (3). pp. 231-235. ISSN 1468-8417
Prior, J and Walton, S (2017) 'The Bristol and Bath Railway Path: an ecopoetic sound collaboration.' GeoHumanities, 3 (1). pp. 246-249. ISSN 2373-566X
Stenning, A and Walton, S (2017) 'Introduction.' Green Letters: Studies in Ecocriticism, 21 (1). iii-x. ISSN 1468-8417
“Sooner or later most of us get hooked”: the question of insanity in Patricia Highsmith’s 'Strangers on a train' and 'The talented Mr. Ripley'
Walton, S (2015) '“Sooner or later most of us get hooked”: the question of insanity in Patricia Highsmith’s 'Strangers on a train' and 'The talented Mr. Ripley'.' Clues: A Journal of Detection, 33 (2). pp. 20-31. ISSN 0742-4248
Walton, S (2012) 'Detection in a complex age: collective control in CSI: New York.' Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies, 38 (1). pp. 103-123. ISSN 1729-8792
Walton, S (2011) 'Madness and vengeance: gendered false consciousness in the golden age crime novel.' Forum: The University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture and the Arts, 13. ISSN 1749-9771
Walton, S (2017) Cultures of nature and wellbeing: narratives of sustainability and green healthcare. In: Living Together on this Earth: Eco-sustainable Narratives and Environmental Concerns in English Literature/s, 19 - 21 April 2017, University of Udine, Udine, Italy.
Walton, S (2017) Nan Shepherd. In: Braemar Mountain Festival, 3 - 5 March 2017, Braemar, Ballater, UK.
Walton, S (2016) Nan Shepherd's 'The living mountain'. In: Kendal Mountain Festival, 17-20 November 2016, Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal, UK.
Moss, S, Gee, M and Walton, S (2016) Hopes and fears in the face of environmental crisis - readings and discussion. In: Being Human: A Festival of the Humanities, 21 November 2016, Topping & Company Booksellers, Bath, UK.
Walton, S (2016) Hydropoetics. In: Wilderness, 4 -7 August 2016, Cornbury Park, Charlbury, UK.
Walton, S (2016) Roundtable/Poetry readings. In: Poetry, Creativity and Environment, 26 - 27 February 2016, University of Leeds.
Walton, S (2016) Cider with Grundy: on orchards and the commonplace in Ambridge. In: The Archers in Fact and Fiction: Academic Analysis of Life in Rural Borsetshire, 17 February 2016, University of Liverpool in London.
The Scottish landscape and crime in non-canonical texts by 20th century female crime writers, Gladys Mitchell and Josephine Tey
Walton, S (2012) The Scottish landscape and crime in non-canonical texts by 20th century female crime writers, Gladys Mitchell and Josephine Tey. In: Crime Scotland - then and now (Scottish studies in Europe conference), 31 May- 3 June 2012, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany.
Walton, S (2014) Camarade. In: Poetry in Collaboration, Southbank centre, London, 20 May 2014.
Walton, S (2014) Samantha Walton at London poetry festival. In: London Poetry Festival, Birkbeck College, London, 17-18 May.
Walton, S and Lindsay, J (2014) Camarade. In: Enemies: Hidden Door Arts Festival, Edinburgh, 29 April 2014.
Walton, S (2014) Samantha Walton at virtual cabaret II. In: UnAmerican Activities 5: Virtual Cabaret II, Queen Mary, University of London, UK, 13 April 2014.
Walton, S (2013) Samantha Walton at caesura #17. In: Caesura #17, Summerhall, Edinburgh, 11 October 2013.