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 working at the intersections of environmental humanities, ethnic studies, gender & sexuality studies, settler colonial studies, and U.S. literature. Daniel's writing has appeared in Terrain.org, American Quarterly,The San Francisco Chronicle, Women's Studies, the Steinbeck Review, Apogee, Bay Area News Matters, and the edited collections Becoming Feral: a Bestiary and Writing the Golden State (forthcoming 2024).

In its broadest framing, Daniel's writing places archives of literature, creative production, and public discourse in conversation with the material and environmental histories that shape our collective sense of possibility, place, and nature. The goal of this work is to better understand the ways that literary, cultural, and commercial speculations about the living world have shaped patterns of extraction, ecological degradation, and environmental injustice. Along with examining archives of Anthropocene speculation, this research analyzes work from writers and activists who envision equitable, sustainable, and decolonial futures. Daniel's book, Life Outside: Speculative Ecologies, Decolonial Horizons is in contract with Duke University Press. Life Outside uses an applied environmental humanities approach to ask how settler colonial speculations about California’s natural state have shaped the region’s literature, and its development as an agricultural economy, a set of interlocking ecosystems, and a site of political dissent and decolonial activism.

Daniel's other recent publication credits include a hybrid creative nonfiction essay, "Nevada," which appeared in Terrain.org, and was nominated for the John Burroughs Nature Writing Award. And 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. This work also informs 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 John Steinbeck "In the Souls of the People" Award, and the biannual Steinbeck Studies conference. You can learn more about the Center and its programs at www.steinbeck.com.


Courses Taught at SJSU:

AMS 1A: American Cultures to 1877

AMS 1B: American Cultures 1877 to Present

AMS 10: Stories that Make America

AMS 139: Animals & Society

AMS/HUM/ENVS 159: Nature & World Cultures

AMS/HUM/RELS 160: Water & Culture

ENGL 30: Literature and the Environment

ENGL 70: Emerging Modernisms and Beyond

ENG 167: Steinbeck

ENGL/WGSS 184: Queer Literary Studies

ENG 281: Special Topics: Environmental Futures



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