Assistant Professor of American Studies & Literature
Director of the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies
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 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 in Apogee, Women's Studies, the Journal of Transnational American Studies, Joyland, and American Quarterly, and is forthcoming in Terrain.org and the Steinbeck Review. And 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 fantasies of California's "natural" state have shaped popular thinking about environmental management, equity, and other-than-human life throughout the state’s longue durée. 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 and World Cultures
AMS 139: Animals and Society
ENGL 30: Literature and the Environment
ENGL 70: Emerging Modernisms and Beyond
ENG 281: Special Topics: Environmental Futures
Office Hours: M/W, 11:00-11:30, 4:30-5PM, Clark 420C