There is a growing understanding across disciplines that narratives are of central importance to our relationships with other humans and nonhumans as well as the broader environment. However, there is a need for more interdisciplinary cooperation and trans-disciplinary convergence in order to explore further, in both the theoretical and the empirical realm, how environmental narratives across various mediums contribute to our understanding of the world around us and our place in it.Together with Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Wojciech Małecki, and Frank Hakemulder, I am therefore developing empirical ecocriticism as a new research field within the Environmental Humanities.

Empirical ecocriticism investigates the influence of environmental narratives (across a wide variety of media) on their audiences. We think of it as a fruitful commingling of existing fields of study, such as traditional ecocriticism, ecomedia, the empirical study of literature and art, environmental communication, and environmental psychology. For us, empirical ecocriticism is 1) Empirically grounded. 2) Open to qualitative and exploratory methodologies. 3) Focused on the effects of narrative strategies and techniques, with the kind of depth and nuance that cultural critics have brought to their research for decades.

One of the central aims of the interdisciplinary field that this workshop will develop is to gain a better understanding of the role of environmental narratives in influencing people’s awareness, attitudes, and behavior in a time of rapid social and ecological transformation. Combining approaches from the humanities and the social sciences, empirical ecocriticism explores the ways in which people from various cultural backgrounds engage with environmental narratives and the larger repercussions of such engagement.

For more information visit the Empirical Ecocriticism website.

Empirical ecocriticism is now an IGEL Emerging Research Coalition.


Roundtable on Empirical Ecocriticism at the 2019 ASLE Conference at UC Davis

Date: 26-30 June 2019
Location: Biennial ASLE Conference at UC Davis, California
Speakers: Wojciech Małecki, Salma Monani, Matthew Schneider Mayerson, Scott Slovic and Alexa Weik von Mossner

Empirical Ecocriticism Workshop at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich

Date: 14-15 December 2018
Location: Rachel Carson Center, Munich, Germany
Conveners: Matthew Schneider-Mayerson and Alexa Weik von Mossner



March 5-8, 2020

“From Cognitive Narratology to Empirical Ecocriticism: The Case of Alice Walker’s ‘Am I Blue?’”
Invited presentation, Contemporary Narratology Panels at the 2020 Narrative Conference

New Orleans, USA

September 27, 2019
“From Cognitive Narratology to Empirical Ecocriticism: Exploring Empathy and Emotion in Environmental Narrative”

Invited talk at the Greenhouse Environmental Humanities Series at the University of Stavanger

Stavanger, Norway

September 26, 2019
“From Cognitive Narratology to Empirical Ecocriticism: Exploring Empathy and Emotion in Environmental Narrative”

Keynote at the PhD-Seminar “Ecocritical Theory: Literature, Culture and the Environment“ at the University of Agder

Kristiansand, Norway

August 30, 2019
“Feeling Blue? What Can Intermedial, Cognitive, and Empirical Ecocriticism Tell Us about the Anthropocene Condition?”
Keynote at the International Conference “Intermedial Ecocriticism: The Anthropocene Condition Across Media and Art Forms” at the University of Babeş-Bolyai

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

June 27, 2019
“Common Ground: Cognitive Narratology and Empirical Ecocriticism”

Paper at the roundtable on “Empirical Ecocriticism” at the 19th Biennial Conference of the Assiocation for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) at the University of California, Davis

Davis, USA

May 17, 2019
“Von Müll und Menschen: Narrative Strategien in Valentin Thurn’s Taste the Waste

Invited talk at the interdisciplinary conference  “Political Goals and Aesthetic Strategies of Environmental Documentaries“ at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) at the University of Bielefeld

Bielefeld, Germany

December 14, 2018
“Cognitive Narratology, Empirical Ecocriticism, and Alice Walker’s ‘Am I Blue?’”

Paper at the interdisciplinary workshop on “Empirical Ecocriticism” that I organized with Matthew Schneider-Mayerson  at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

Munich, Germany


Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Alexa Weik von Mossner, and Wojciech Małecki, eds. Forthcoming. Thematic cluster of articles on “Empirical Ecocriticism” in Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment.

Małecki, Wojciech, Alexa Weik von Mossner and Małgorzata Dobrowolska. Forthcoming. “Narrating Human and Animal Oppression: Strategic Empathy and Intersectionalism in Alice Walker’s ‘Am I Blue?’” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. 

Schneider-Mayerson, Matthew, Wojciech Małecki, Frank Hakemulder and Alexa Weik von Mossner, eds. Empirical Ecocriticism: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Environmental Narrative. Edited volume. In preparation.