Rivers, Daniel

Daniel Lanza Rivers


Preferred: daniel.rivers@sjsu.edu

Alternate: daniel.rivers@sjsu.edu


Preferred: 9233230445

Assistant Professor of American Studies & Literature

Director of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies

Public Voices Fellow, the Op-Ed Project (2022-2023)


Ph.D. in Cultural Studies & English, Claremont Graduate University

MA in Humanities & Social Thought, New York University

BA in Liberal Studies, Minor in English, Sonoma State University


Daniel Lanza Rivers (they/them) is a queer/non-binary scholar, writer, and teacher working at the intersections of environmental humanities, ethnic studies, gender & sexuality studies, settler colonial studies, and U.S. literature. Their writing has appeared inTerrain.org, Apogee, Joyland, the Steinbeck Review, Women's Studies, and American Quarterly, and is forthcoming in the edited collection Postcards from the Golden State (published by Boom: a Journal of California). Their research uses interdisciplinary and applied humanities methods to examine relationships among ecology, imagination, and culture. 

Daniel's current research examines how popular thinking about nature and the natural has shaped the politics of colonization, equity, and environmental management in California. Daniel's recent article in American Quarterly (June 2020) does this by querying the visual and written cultures of grizzly eradication in settler California. In addition to unpacking the ways that white settlers transformed the California Grizzly into a symbol of imperial manliness, this article analyzes the creative and political discussions of the untamed outdoors that framed Native nations and wild grizzlies as threats to a properly domesticated (and commercially productive) U.S. California. 

Daniel's current book project, Life Outside: Settler Ecologies and the Politics of Place, broadens this scope of inquiry to ask how settler speculations about California's "natural" environments have shaped popular thinking about environmental management, equity, and other-than-human life since colonization. This project draws together an archive of literature, public discourse, material culture, ethnography, and environmental history, and it is guided by an environmental justice framework that asks how environmental relations have served both as vehicles of institutional menace and as sites of coalitional and decolonial resistance to extractive industry, racial capitalism, and the settler state. 

Daniel's other recent publication credits include a guest editorship of the special issue of Women's Studies titled "Futures of Feminist Science Studies." Daniel's work in feminist science studies (FSS) grew out of their interest in histories of evolutionary and environmental thought, and it informs their approach to analyzing relationships of power among ecology and culture. It also shapes their pedagogy in AMS 139: Animals & Society. An upper-division science GE course that Daniel co-designed with Funie Hsu (Humanities/American Studies).

Daniel is also Director of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, where they coordinate the Center's various programs, including Steinbeck in the Schools, the Steinbeck Award, and the biannual Steinbeck Studies conference. You can learn more about the Center and its programs here: https://steinbeck-edu.webflow.io/


Courses Taught at SJSU:

AMS 1A: American Cultures to 1877

AMS 1B: American Cultures 1877 to Present

AMS/ENV 159: Nature & World Cultures

AMS/HUM 160: Water & Culture

AMS 139: Animals & Society

ENGL 30: Literature and the Environment

ENGL 70: Emerging Modernisms and Beyond

ENG 167: Steinbeck

ENG 281: Special Topics: Environmental Futures



Office Hours: M/W, 11:00-11:30, 4:30-5PM, Clark 420C