Dr. Robert Johnson
I am a historian, literary critic, and theorist.
My scholarship centers on issues related to energy, the environment, and climate change; and it cuts a wide swath across a variety of subjects, including technology, media studies, the novel, whale oil, pop culture, advertising, and even the modern ritual of hot yoga.
My main goal has been to retell the history of the modern world as a story emerging from a unique (if now banal) set of cultural practices related to energy production and consumption. My writings to this effect include two books, Mineral Rites: An Archaeology of the Fossil Economy (Johns Hopkins UP 2019) and Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture (UP Kansas 2014), each of which illustrates how contemporary energy infrastructures shape the everyday textures of life that we take for granted, including the rituals we move through, the architecture we inhabit, and the artifacts we touch. My scholarship illustrates, in what are sometimes surprising ways, how our modern entanglement with fossil fuels informs the deepest layers of the body, the psyche, and our ideologies (albeit in ways stratified by class, race, gender, and region).
Like my writing, my teaching has also taken a unique trajectory. I started out my career teaching at traditional public institutions. I taught for six years at the New College of Florida (the State’s Honors College) where I was originally tenured as a professor. Before that, I taught for two years at UC Santa Barbara as a Faculty Fellow and several years at UC Irvine as a Chancellor’s Fellow (while completing my PHD in US History). Today, I am equally at home in both the traditional classroom and the digital learning environment, working with traditional college students and nontraditional demographics.
Currently, I am Director of the Honors Fellows for Social Change, and Professor of History at National University in San Diego, California.
Honors and Awards
- 2018, Annette Kolodny Prize
- 2018, Presidential Award
- 2013, Stone-Suderman Prize
- 2011, Environmental Studies Grant
- 2010, Faculty Research Grants
- 2004, Faculty Fellowship
- Johnson, R. M.. (2019). Mineral Rites: An Archaeology of the Fossil Economy.
- Johnson, R. M.. (2018). Industry, Technology, Energy: The Technological and Thermodynamic Revolutions in the Writings of Karl Marx. In The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx, Eds. Andrew P.
- Johnson, R. M.. (2017). Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture.
- Johnson, R. M.. (2017). Embodiment, or the Loving Intimacies of Carbon. In Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Envir.
- Johnson, R. M.. (2016). Energy Slaves: Carbon Technologies, Climate Change, and the Stratified History of the Fossil Economy. American Quartlery, 68(4): .
- Johnson, R. M.. (2016). Embodiment, or the Loving Intimacies of Carbon. Fueling Culture: Energy, History, Politics,
- Johnson, R. M.. (2016). A Peculiarly Valuable Oil: Energy and the Ecology of Production on an American Whale Ship. Industrial Archaeology,
- Johnson, R. M.. (2015). Crude Reality. The History Teacher,
- Johnson, R. M.. (2014). A Peculiarly Valuable Oil: Energy and the Ecology of Production on an American Whale Ship. Special Issue on Energy and Industry. Industrial A, 40(1-2): .
- Johnson, R. M.. (2014). Carbon Nation: Fossil Fuels in the Making of American Culture.
- Johnson, R. M.. (2010). An Upthrust into Barbarism: Coal, Trauma, and the Origins of the Modern Self, 1885-1951. Journal of American Culture, 33(4): .
- Johnson, R. M.. (2006). Globalizing the Harlem Renaissance: Irish, Mexican, and 'Negro' Renaissances in Survey Graphic. Journal of Global History, 1(2): .
- Johnson, R. M.. (2002). 'A Whole Synthesis of His Time': Political Ideology and Cultural Politics in the Writings of William Carlos Williams, 1929-1939. American Quarterly, 54(2): .
- Johnson, R. M.. (n.d.). 'Typical of Her Race': Cultural Pluralism and the Editorial Records of Survey Graphic. 52(2): .
- Johnson, R. (2015-08-19). After Oil School. Seminar presented at the Invited in Spring 2015 for Participant in 5-day Workshop, Edmonton, Canada.
- Johnson, R. (2015-04-28). How'd We Become a Carbon Nation. Lecture presented at the Progressive Radio Network, Radio Interview.
- Johnson, R. (2015-04-15). The Eroticism of Fossil Fuels. Conference presented at the California American Studies Association, Fullerton, California.
- Johnson, R. (2014-07-15). Modernity's Ecology: Fossil Fuels, World History, and America's Great Divergence. Conference presented at the World History Association, San Jose, Costa Rica.