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Catriona Sandilands

Catriona Sandilands


Coordinator, PhD program in Environmental Studies


PhD Sociology, York University
MA Sociology, York University
BA (Honours) Sociology, University of Victoria
Creative Writing Certificate, Simon Fraser University

Research Keywords

Environmental Humanities and Ecocriticism; Queer, Multispecies & Feminist Ecologies; Critical Plant Studies; Public Humanities and Cultures; Creative Writing Practice; Biopolitics.

Contact Information

4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

416 736 2100;

Research Interests

Plurality is the condition of human action because we are all the same, that is, human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live. (Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition)

My primary task as a teacher, writer, and researcher is to help cultivate the “plurality” of which Arendt speaks: we create a common world when we share and reflect together on our unique, embodied relationships to it. This creation of worldliness and plurality is especially true for our relations to the more-than-human world. By developing a deeply situated understanding of the multispecies communities of which we are a part, we can appear to one another to consider them, and by holding our perceptions and experiences up to the views of multiple others, we can truly understand both our situatedness and our relatedness.

My work pursues this task of creating a common world from multiple angles:

  • theoretical / philosophical writing on ecofeminism and queer ecology to explore the embodied, intersectional politics of sex, gender, race, dis/ability, and nature;
  • sustained engagement with ecocriticism and ecocultural studies through both professional leadership and engagements with diverse Canadian literary ecologies;
  • creative explorations of place-based, narrative scholarship highlighting the importance of story and poetry to the development of a decolonizing, relationally-based practice of environmental justice; and
  • interdisciplinary research on plants as participants in multispecies biopolitical entanglements, and on people/plant relationships as both vectors of settler-capitalist dispossession and sites of resistance and transformation.

Research Projects

Title: Plantasmagoria: Botanical Encounters in the (M)Anthropocene

Summary: This project consists of a collection of critical essays+ on botanical biopolitics, environmental history, human/plant encounters, plant fictions, and everyday plant relationships as elements in an expansive, multispecies, environmental justice politics. Essays and creative interventions examine specific plants (Scotch broom, mulberries, Douglas-fir, stinging nettle) and their entangled relationships in and with a variety of political and historical contexts (colonialism, climate change, misogyny, and the [M]Anthropocene), as well as literary texts that push “plant-thinking” into feminist, queer, trans, anti-racist, and decolonizing work.


Title: Dear Jane Rule

Summary: This collection of short stories is a kind of love letter to Jane Rule, who was an LGBTQ+ and literary icon during her life (1931-2007). Her work influenced many communities: lesbian, gay, literary, publishing, anti-censorship, regional, national, personal. Her life and work is, however, on the verge of being forgotten. Dear Jane Rule reinvigorates her extraordinary influence by imagining some of the many lives she touched in her published work, voluminous correspondence, and deep personal and professional friendships. It also extends her sharp literary and political insights into the present moment, introducing a new generation of readers to her insight and intelligence. 


Title: Storying Climate Change: Narrative, Imagination, Justice, Resilience (Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellowship, 2016-20)

Summary: Through workshops and other structured gatherings, this project developed a significant public conversation about climate change, environmental justice, and everyday life, working from the premise that sharing “small” stories from personal experience —fiction and nonfiction, traditional and experimental—is a crucial practice from which to cultivate creative, collaborative, just, and meaningful responses to environmental and climate justice issues. Results of this project included the anthology of stories, poetry, and creative nonfiction Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times (Caitlin Press, 2019), as well as the “Storying Climate Change” website that describes key elements in the process of the collaboration, provides additional resources on story and literature in response to climate change, and offers both a record of community events and a selection of contributors’ readings that make a continued space for conversation in the COVID universe in which all in-person events after March, 2020 had to be cancelled.


Research Output

2019 (ed.) Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate Changing Times (Halfmoon Bay, BC: Caitlin Press).

2010 (ed. with B. Erickson), Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire (Bloomington: Indiana UP).

2004 (ed. with M. Hessing and R. Raglon). This Elusive Land: Women and the Canadian Environment (Vancouver: UBC Press).

1999 The Good-Natured Feminist: Ecofeminism and Democracy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press).

In progress       (with C. Gersdorf), Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture, Environment, Guest Editors, Special Issue, “Gardening (Against) the Anthropocene” (2023)  

2021                    (with P. Gibson), Performance Philosophy, Guest Editors, Special Issue, “Plant Performance,” 6.2, Fall. 

2018                    (with K. Blanchard), The Goose, Guest Editors, Special Cluster, “Sex and the Motor City: Ecologies of Middlesex,” 17.1, Fall. 

2018                    ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, Guest Editor, Special Cluster, “Canadian Environmental Literatures and Politics,” 25.2, Spring. 

In progress       “A Token for Jane,” for Mark Dickinson and David Greenwood (ed.), Canadian Literary Ancestors (McGill-Queen’s University Press). 

In press              “Desert Truths, Queer Ecologies,” in Jessica May and Marshall N. Price (ed.), Second Nature: Photography in the Age of the Anthropocene (Durham, Duke University Press, 2023). 

In press              (with P. Gibson), “I Can’t Move”: Plants and the Politics of Mobility in Estado Vegetal,” in Giovanni Aloi (ed.), Manuela Infante: Estado Vegetal (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2023). 

In press              “Urban Plantasmagoria,” in Stanimir Panyotov, Levi Bryant, and Eileen Joy (ed.), O-Zone (reprint of “Lavender’s Green? Redux,” 2016; Goleta, CA: Punctum Books, 2021) 

2022                    “Mulberry Intimacies and the Sweetness of Kinship,” in Susanne Lettow and Sabine Nessel (ed.), Ecologies of Gender: Contemporary Nature Relations and the Nonhuman Turn (London: Routledge), pp. 15-33. 

2022                    “Loving the Difficult: Scotch Broom” in Thom Van Dooren and Matthew Chrulew (ed.), Kin: Thinking with Deborah Bird Rose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 33-52. 

2022                    “’It Was the Flowers on His Body’: Discomfort, Desire, and Vegetality in The Vegetarian,’” in Stefanie Hessler and Katja Aglert (ed.), Sex Ecologies (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press), pp. 149-54. 

2021                    “Plants,” in Jeffrey Cohen and Stephanie Foote (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 156-69. 

2021                    “Worlds,” in Laurie Cluitmans (ed.), On the Necessity of Gardening: An ABC of Art, Botany and Cultivation (Amsterdam: Valiz), pp. 179-82. 

2021                    “Humus,” in John Hausdoerffer et al (ed.), What Kind of Ancestor Do You Want to Be?  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), pp. 177-81.

2020                    “Q is for Quench,” in Grace Gloria Denis (ed.), In, From, and With: Exploring Collaborative Survival (Berlin: Circadian), p. 53. 

2020                    “Timber. Douglas-fir. Art. / Bois. Sapin de Douglas. Art.,” in Laura Drouet and Olivier Lacrouts (ed.), Plant Fever: Towards a Phyto-centred Design (Brussels, studio d-o-t-s / CID au Grand-Hornu), pp. 38-49. 

2018                    “Fire, Fantasy and Futurity: Queer Ecology Meets Silver Bush,” in Rita Bode and Jean Mitchell (ed.), Lucy Maud Montgomery and the Matter of Nature (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press), pp. 27-40.   

2017                     “Vegetate,” in Lowell Duckert and Jeffrey Cohen (ed.), Veer Ecology: Key Words for Ecotheory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), pp. 16-29. 

2017                     “Losing My Place: Landscapes of Depression,” in Ashlee Cunsolo and Karen Landman (ed.), Mourning Nature: Hope at the Heart of Ecological Loss and Grief (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press), pp. 144-168. 

2017                     (with J. Adamson) “Insinuations: Thinking Plant Politics with The Day of the Triffids,” in Patricia Vieira, Monica Gagliano and John Ryan (ed.), The Language of Plants: Science, Philosophy, Literature and Cinema (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), pp. 234-252. 

2017                     “Feminism and Biopolitics: A Cyborg Account,” in Sherilyn MacGregor (ed.), The Routledge International Handbook on Gender and Environment (London: Routledge), pp. 229-38. 

2016                    "Some 'F' Words for the Environmental Humanities: Feralities, Feminisms, Futurities," in Ursula Heise, Jon Christensen and Michelle Niemann (ed.), The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (London: Routledge), pp. 427-35. 

2016                    “Lavender’s Green? Redux,” in Caroline Picard (ed.), imperceptibly and slowly opening (New York: The Green Lantern Press), pp. 236-45. 

2016                    “Floral Sensations: Plant Biopolitics,” in Teena Gabrielson et al (ed.), The  Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 226-37. 

2014                    “Pro/polis: Three Forays into the Political Lives of Bees,” in Serpil Oppermann and Serenella Iovino (ed.), Material Ecocriticisms (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), pp. 157-71. 

2014                    “Queer Life? Ecocriticism After the Fire,” in Greg Garrard (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Ecocriticism (New York: Oxford University Press), pp. 305-19. 

2014                    “Violent Affinities: Sex, Gender and Species in Cereus Blooms at Night,” in Louise Westling (ed.). The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Environment (New York: Cambridge University Press), pp. 90-103.  

2014                    “Acts of Nature: Literature, Excess and Environmental Politics,” in Smaro Kamboureli and Christl Verduyn (ed.), Critical Collaborations: Indigenity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press), pp. 127-142. 

2013                     “Calypso Trails: Botanizing Expeditions on the Bruce Peninsula,” in Ella Soper and Nicholas Bradley (ed.), Greening the Maple: Canadian Ecocritical Traditions (reprint of “Calypso Trails,” 2010; Calgary: University of Calgary Press), pp. 227-246. 

2013                     (with P. Hobbs) “Queen’s Park and Other Stories: Toronto’s Queer Ecologies,” in L. Anders Sandberg, Stephen Bocking, Colin Coates and Ken Cruikshank (ed.), Urban Explorations: Environmental Histories of the Toronto Region (Hamilton, ON: L.R. Wilson Institute for Canadian Studies), pp. 73-94. 

In progress       “Outlander: Jane Rule’s Public Lives,” for BC Studies.

In press               “Foreword,” for S. Bezan and I. Linge, “Sex and Nature,” Special issue of Environmental Humanities (2022).

2021                      (with the Piddock Clam Collective, J. Hamilton, J. MacLeod, E. McGiffin, A. Neimanis and S. Reid), “Wrack Writing,” Feminist Review 129: 1-5.

2021                      (with P. Gibson), “Introduction: Plant Performance,” Performance Philosophy 6.2 (Fall): 1-23.

2021                      “Plant/s Matter,” Women’s Studies 50.8: 776-83.

2019                      (with M. Szczygielska and O. Cielemęcka) “Thinking the Feminist Vegetal Turn in the Shadow of Douglas-firs: An Interview,” Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 5.2.

2018                      (with J. Adamson and S. LeMenager) “Citizen Humanities: Teaching ‘Life Overlooked’ as Interdisciplinary Ecology,” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 5:2, 96-121.

2018                      “Mulberriddlesex,” The Goose 17.1, Fall.

2018                      (with K. Blanchard), “Introduction: Sex and the (Motor) City: Ecologies of Middlesex,” The Goose 17.1, Fall.

2018                      “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush: A Queer Botanical Meander,” Center for Sustainable Practice and the Arts Quarterly 19, 28-33.

2018                      “Introduction: Canadian Environmental Literatures and Politics,” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 25:2 (Spring), 280-91.

2018                      “Into the Blue: Betsy Warland’s Queer Ecopoetics,” ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment 25:1 (Winter), 17-36.

2017                      “Fields of Dreams,” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 4:2-3, 111-126.

2017                      “For Sylvia,” part of “On Sylvia Bowerbank: Green Literary Scholar,” The Goose 15.2, online.

2016                      “Combustion,” The Goose 15.1, online.

2016                      “Environmental Humanities and Publics,” part of “Reflections on the Arts, Environment, and Culture After Ten Years of The Goose,” The Goose 14.2, online.

2014                      “Mockingbird Resilience,” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 1.1, online.

2013                      “Plant Stories,” Environmental Humanities. October 1, online.

2013                      “Dog Stranglers in the Park? National and Vegetal Politics in Ontario’s Rouge Valley,” Journal of Canadian Studies 47:3, 93-122.

In press               “Anna, Knitting,” The New Quarterly (2023). Honourable Mention, Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Prize.

In press               “Magi,” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities, 10th Anniversary Issue. (2023)

In press               “Eleanor,” emerge 22: The Writer’s Studio Anthology (2022)

2022                     “Fifteen Minutes,” Watch Your Head: Writers and Artists Respond to Climate Change.

2019                      “Concerto for Scotch Broom,” in C. Sandilands (ed.), Rising Tides: Reflections for Climate-Changing Times. Caitlin Press, pp. 142-46.

2019                      “Memorial (Willows Beach),” 01 February and “Waiting (Strip Mall, December),” 25 January. The Drabble.

2018                      (with S. Mason-Case and C. Potvin), “Why Ottawa Should Step Away from Trans Mountain,” Policy Options. August 29.

2018                      “I See My Garden as a Barometer of Climate Change,” The Guardian. July 09.

2016                      “’Stumps’: Jane Rule on Galiano,” NiCHE: Network in Canadian History and Environment. April 18, online.

In progress       Review of Christine Lowther (ed.), Worth More Standing: Poets and Activists Pay Homage to Trees, and Worth More Growing: Youth Poets Pay Homage to Trees. The British Columbia Review.

2018                      Review of Theresa Kishkan, Euclid’s Orchard and Other Essays, The Ormsby Review #254, online (abridged and reprinted in BC Book World, Summer 2018).

2017                      “Making Kin, Making Trouble: Donna Haraway’s Critical Ongoingness,” The Annals of Science 74.4:326-330.

2017                      “Not Just Pussy Hats at the Climate March: Feminist Encounters with the

Anthropocene.” Review of Richard Grusin, ed., Anthropocene Feminism, for The Los Angeles Review of Books, July 6, online.

2017                      “Fear of a Queer Plant,” GLQ: Gay and Lesbian Quarterly 23.4: 419-29.

2017                      Review of Betsy Warland, Oscar of Between: A Memoir of Identity and Ideas, The Ormsby Review #99, online.

In progress       “Becoming-Tree in a World of Clearcuts: Thoughts on Zoetropism and Gendered Violence,” Invited Keynote Address, “Zoetropisms: Ecofeminist Stories of Becoming,” Université de Nantes, FR, April 2023 (online).

In progress       “Loving the Difficult: Scotch Broom, Plant Invasions, and the Botanical Politics of Decolonization,” Invited Lecture, Cogut Institute for the Humanities, Brown University, Providence RI, October 2022.

2022                     "Daphne, Reprise: Toward an Arboreal Feminism,” Invited Keynote Lecture (online), philoSOPHIA Annual Conference, George Mason University, Fairfax VA, June.

2022                     “Arboreal Feminisms in the (M)Anthropocene,” Invited Lecture (online), Studium Generale, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague, NE, May.

2022                     “Arboreal Feminisms,” Invited Lecture, Centre for Studies in Literature, University of Portsmouth, UK, March.

2022                     “Loving the Difficult: Scotch Broom, Botanical Colonialism, and the Possibility of Cohabitation,” Invited Lecture (online), Environmental Humanities and Ecologies of Justice Speakers Series, Tufts University, Medford MA, March.

2022                     “Queer Ecological Justice” (with N. Ahuja), Invited Panelist (online), Global Conversations Toward Queer Social Justice Network, University of Cambridge, UK, March.

2022                     “Is Climate Change (Only) Meteorological?” (with M.-B. Öhman), Invited Keynote Panelist (online), Seed Box Environmental Humanities Collaboratory, “A Community Garden,” Linköping University, SE, February.

2021                      “Mulberry Intimacies: On Plants, Love, and Biopolitics in the Anthropocene,” Invited Lecture (online), Research Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung TW, November.

2021                      “Mulberries: A Biopolitical Love Story,” Invited Lecture (online), Environmental Humanities Center, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam NE, September.

2021                      “Anthologies to Save the Planet,” Invited Panelist (online), Word Vancouver, September.

2021                      (with S. Morrison), “Story into Theory, Theory into Story,” Invited Keynote Presentation, University of Würzberg International Online Symposium, August.

2021                      “Queering Nature,” Invited Panelist (online), National Audubon Society (US), July.

2020                     “Planting Queer Intimacies,” Invited Lecture, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, Western Washington University, Bellingham WA, March.

2019                      “Storying Climate Change,” Keynote Panelist, Strange Weather: The Science and Art of Climate Change, Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto, November.

2019                      “Invasive Plantimacies? Queering Kinship,” Invited Lecture, Posthumanism Research Institute, Brock University, St Catharines, November.

2018                      “Gardening in the (M)Anthropocene,” Keynote Address, European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture, and Environment, University of Würzberg, GE, September.

2018                      “Feminist Botany for the Age of Man,” Sydney Environmental Humanities Lecture Series, Australian Museum, Sydney, AU, July.

2017                      “Phytopolitics: Four Forays in Vegetation,” Keynote Address for Plantarium: Re-Imagining Green Futurities, Linköping University, SE, July.

2017                      “The Young in One Another’s Arms at 40: A Conversation for International Women’s Day,” Invited Lecture, Galiano Community Library Speakers Series, Galiano Island, BC, March.

2017                      “Vegetation: Four Forays into Critical Plant Studies,” Invited Lecture, Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba.

2017                      “Ecology, Agency, and Community: Plant Politics?” Invited Public Lecture, Cohen Center for the Study of Technological Humanism, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA, January.

2016                      “Vegetation? The Biopolitics of Becoming-Plant,” Invited Lecture, Department of English, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, October.

2016                      “Phytopolitics: Four Forays into Vegetation,” Invited Keynote Address, International Association for Environmental Philosophy, Salt Lake City, UT, October.

2016                      “A Vegetative State? Plant Biopolitics,” Invited Symposium Presentation, The Biopolitics of America, University of Würzberg, July.

2016                      “Queering Communities: Becoming (With) Plants,” Invited Symposium Lectures (2), XPlore Berlin, July.

2016                      “Outlander: Jane Rule’s Public Lives,” Invited Address, Galiano Community Library Annual General Meeting, Galiano Island, BC, April.

2016                      “Outlander: Jane Rule’s Public Lives,” Lansdowne Public Lecture, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, March.

2016                      (with R. Pickard), “(Un)Settling and (Re) Membering: Ecocritical Futures?” Invited Lansdowne Seminar Presentation, Department of English, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, February.

2016                      “Combustion,” Invited Presentation, Inaugural Ecocriticism and Environmental Humanities Roundtable, Modern Languages Association, Austin, TX, January.

2015                      "Some 'F' Words for the Environmental Humanities: Feralities, Feminisms, Futurities,” Invited Presentation, Mellon Sawyer Seminar, UCLA, June.

2015                      “In a Vegetal Time and Space: Queering Multispecies Politics,” Invited Public Lecture, University of British Columbia, “Queer U,” February.

2014                      “Botanically Queer: Plants, Sex, and Biopolitics,” Invited Public Lecture, Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, University of British Columbia, October.

2014                      “Vital Feminist Matters,” Invited Keynote Panel Presentation, Association for Literature, Environment and Culture in Canada, Thunder Bay, ON, August.

2014                      “Encountering Plants: Entanglements and Embodiments,” Invited Keynote Address, “Ecological Bodies” Symposium, University of Illinois, Champaign, May.

2014                      “Botanically Queer,” Invited Public Lecture, Columbia University, New York, March.

2014                      "Imagining Communities in the Anthropocene: Multi-species Relationships,” Invited Consultant/Presenter, Humanities and the Environment Workshop, Arizona State University, February.

2013                      “Botanical Sensations: Plants, Politics, and Literatures of Vegetal Encounter,” Invited Keynote Address for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (UKI), University of Surrey, Guildford UK, August.

2013                      “Jane Rule’s Body Politic,” Invited Roundtable Presentation for The Body Politic, part of Gay Premises: Radical Voices in the Archives, 1973-1983, Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, Toronto ON, June.

2013                      “Building the Environmental Humanities,” Invited Roundtable Presentation, Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (US), Lawrence KS, May.

2013                      “Vegetal Politics in the Rouge Park,” Invited Presentation for “Urban Forestries and Political Ecologies,” University of Toronto, April.

2013                      “Queer/Ecology,” Invited Seminar Presentation for the Technoscience Salon, University of Toronto, January.

Recognition & Awards

  • Faculty of Environmental Studies Dean's Research Award - 2020
  • York University Research Leader Award - 2017
  • Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Fellowship - 2016
  • Lansdowne Visiting Scholar, University of Victoria - 2016
  • Canada Research Chair in Sustainability and Culture - Tier 2 - 2004/2013
  • Rockefeller Humanities Fellowship, University of Oregon - 2000


Course CodeTitle
ENVS 1800Environmental Writing / Writing the Environment
ENVS 8102PhD Research Seminar
ENVS 5103Nature and Society
ENVS 6149Culture and Environment
ENVS 3320Sex, Gender, Nature