Jane T. Costlow

Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies

Hedge Hall, Room 112



Jane Costlow is Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies, and teaches courses in environmental literature and visual cultures at Bates. Her academic training is in Russian literature and culture; she has travelled extensively to Russia and the Soviet Union, beginning in her graduate years with a year in Leningrad. She is fascinated by how writers, artists and film makers use their talents in representing place – whether to protest environmental injustice or reveal the amazing beauties of the natural world. Costlow recently published a major study of the forest in 19th century Russian culture, published by Cornell University Press, which won the 2014 USC Award for Best Book in Literary and Cultural Studies. She co-edited a volume of essays on non-human animals in Russian culture and history (Pittsburgh University Press, 2010), and has written extensively on Russian women writers. Together with colleagues in Finland, she is completing two edited volumes on the cultural meanings of water, both in Russia and across cultures. Her current research interests include the Soviet film director Larisa Shepitko, the writer Vladimir Korolenko (whom one scholar called a “one man Civil Liberties Union of late Imperial Russia”) and holy springs in the Orel Region – a part of Russia where she frequently travels with Bates students.
Professor Costlow teaches courses in the ES program that focus on meanings of nature and senses of place in a diverse array of cultures and historical periods. She also teaches a course that explores disaster narratives – from Katrina and Chernobyl to the “slow catastrophe” of climate change. Other courses include “Nature and the Novel” and “Nature in Russian Culture,” along with a short term entitled “Walking: the practice, politics and pleasures of your own two feet.”
One of the great things about studying culture and the environment is the chance to wander, both with and without students. Prof. Costlow’s work on the Russian forest took her to what Russians call the “slumbering forests” north of the Volga River, to Lake Svetloyar. She has also led numerous Bates trips abroad, both during Short Term and as part of the college’s FSA programs. During Fall Semester 2010 she and Prof. Asgeirsdottir (Politics) spent four months with students in St. Petersburg, Russia, including three weeks on the shores of Lake Baikal – the world’s largest and oldest lake.

To make an appointment to see Professor Costlow, click here.