Jane T. Costlow

Clark A. Griffith Professor of Environmental Studies


Environmental Studies

Hedge Hall, Room 112



M. Phil., Ph.D., Yale; B.A., Duke

Jane Costlow is a Professor of Environmental Studies, with a background in the study of Russian literature and culture.  During her graduate years at Yale she spent a year in Leningrad (USSR), supported by Fulbright and the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX).  In a broad sense she is interested in the role of novels, poetry, art and film to shape our senses of place – and the role that artists of all kinds play in helping us be present to the natural world.  She has recently completed a book on the forest in 19th century Russian culture, which will be published in 2012 by Cornell University Press. She has also 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.  She has a special affection for the art of translation – where scholarly training joins the love of language to create bridges between multiple worlds.

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.