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Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson
Associate Professor
National University
(858) 642-8408

Dr. Johnson is a cultural critic and environmental historian with publications ranging across energy, ecology, poetry, film, journalism, and race relations. His most recent work focuses on climate change, the environment, and America’s carbon culture. He has recently written about hot yoga, about the history of technology, about whale oil, about art and film, and about myriad other issues related to the study of race, culture, and fossil fuels.

His professional career has carried him to several places. Before arriving at NU, he worked as an Associate Professor at the New College of Florida (the State Honor’s College), as a Faculty Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a Program Director for the California History-Social Science Project, and as a SOROS fellow teaching in English in Bulgaria and Moldova. Sometime along the way he completed his PHD from the University of California, Irvine and an MA from the University of Montana in Missoula.

He is now serving as Chair of the Social Sciences Department and Associate Professor of History.


Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture (University Press of Kansas, 2014).


“Embodiment, or the Loving Intimacies of Carbon.” In Fueling Culture: Energy, History, Politics, eds. Imre Szeman, Patricia Yaeger, and Jennifer Wenzel (New York: Fordham University). Forthcoming 2015/16. Invited essay.

“A Peculiarly Valuable Oil: Energy and the Ecology of Production on an American Whale Ship.” Special Issue of Industrial Archaeology. Forthcoming 2015.

“’Typical of Her Race’: Cultural Pluralism and the Editorial Records of Survey Graphic.”American Studies 52.2 (2013). Winner of the MAASA 2013 Stone-Suderman Award for Best Article Published in American Studies.

“'An Upthrust into Barbarism': Coal, Trauma, and the Origins of the Modern Self, 1885-1951.” Journal of American Culture 33.4 (December 2010).

Reprint. “Globalizing the Harlem Renaissance: Irish, Mexican, and ‘Negro’ Renaissances in Survey Graphic.” In Other Renaissances: A New Approach to World Literature, eds. Brenda Schlidgen, Gang Zhou, and Sander Gilman (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2007).

“Globalizing the Harlem Renaissance: Irish, Mexican, and ‘Negro’ Renaissances in Survey Graphic.” Journal of Global History 1.2 (July 2006).

“’A Whole Synthesis of His Time’: Political Ideology and Cultural Politics in the Writings of William Carlos Williams, 1929-1939.” American Quarterly 54.2 (June 2002).


“Oil Culture.” Edited by Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden. Oil Culture (University of Minnesota Press, 2014). Environmental History. Forthcoming January 2016.

“Crude Reality.” Brian Black. Crude Reality: Petroleum in World History (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012). The History Teacher. February 2015.

“Pastoral and Monumental.” Kenneth C. Jackson, Pastoral and Monumental: Dams, Postcards, and the American Landscape (University of Pittsburgh Press 2013). Journal of Popular Culture. April 2014.

“Queer Environmentality.” Robert Azarrello, Queer Environmentality: Ecology, Evolution, and Sexuality in American Literature (Ashgate 2012). American Studies 52.3 (2013).

“How We Are Changed by War.” D. C. Gill, How We Are Changed By War: A Study of Letters and Diaries from Colonial Conflicts to Operation Iraqi Freedom (Routledge 2010). Journal of Popular Culture 45.6 (December 2012).

“The Urban Environment and Urban Environmental History.” Martin Melosi, Effluent America: Cities, Energy, Industry, and the Environment (Pittsburgh 2001). H-Environment. August 2007.


Conference Paper. “Embodiment, or the Loving Intimacies of Petroleum.” American Studies Association. Washington, DC. October 2015.

Invited Guest. After Oil School. University of Alberta. Edmonton, Canada. August 2015.
Interview with Steve Horn. Progressive Radio Network. “Political Analysis: How’d We Become a Carbon Nation.” April 2015.

Conference Paper. “The Eroticism of Fossil Fuels.” California American Studies Association. Fullerton, California. April 2015.

Conference Paper. Modernity’s Ecology: Fossil Fuels, World History, and America’s Great Divergence. World History Association. San Jose, Costa Rica. July 2014.

Conference Paper. Embodying Carbon: Fossil Fuels, Materialism, and Consciousness. Marxist Literary Group Institute for Society and Culture. Banff, Canada. June 2014.


Ph.D. Philosophy
University of California, Irvine