Dr. Mark Sturges
Mark Sturges joined the English department in 2014 after completing his PhD at the Pennsylvania State University. He grew up in western New York, attended the University of Pittsburgh as an undergraduate, where he majored in English and Philosophy, and taught in middle school (in Massachusetts) and high school (in Vermont) before returning to graduate school in Pennsylvania. Mark moved to Canton with his wife Rachel, and they are the proud, sometimes flustered, parents of two young boys, Tobias and Nathaniel.
Mark studies early American literature with a focus on nature writing and environmental history. He has published articles about Thomas Jefferson, William Bartram, the poetry of sheep farming in the early national era, and the regional folklore of Pennsylvania, among other things. His most recent research examines the cultural history of maple sugaring with a focus on the literary and artistic dimensions of this unique environmental practice.
Overall, Mark is fascinated by the ways in which literary expression both shapes and reveals cultural attitudes about the natural world, and thus he puts environmental issues at the forefront of his critical and pedagogical practices. He teaches a variety of courses in American literature and environmental literature--his top picks include Adirondack literature, Cape Cod literature, and a creative writing course in the Adirondack Semester--and he often takes students outdoors to “ground-truth” the intellectual content of his classes.
PhD, English Literature, 2013
MA, English Literature, 2008
BA, English and Philosophy, 2003
Presentations, Exhibitions, Performances and Published Work:
- “‘Bleed on, blest tree!’: Maple Sugar Georgics in the Early American Republic.” Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal 16.2 (2018): 353-80.
- “Aesthetic Extracts: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Maple Culture.” ESQ: A Journal of Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Culture 63.3 (2017): 431-78.
- “Founding Farmers: Jefferson, Washington, and the Rhetoric of Agricultural Reform.” Early American Literature 50.3 (2015): 681-709.
- “A Deep Map of the South: Natural History, Cultural History, and William Bartram’s Travels.” South Atlantic Review 79.1 (2015): 43-67.
- “Legends of the Susquehanna: Frontier Narratives and the Folkloric Sense of Place.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 82.4 (2015): 489-515.
- “Fleecing Connecticut: David Humphreys and the Poetics of Sheep Farming.” The New England Quarterly 87.3 (2014): 464-89.
- “Text and Trail: Ecocriticism, Textual Criticism, and William Bartram’s Travels.” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies 14.1 (2012): 1-20.
- “Enclosing the Commons: Thomas Jefferson, Agrarian Independence, and Early American Land Policy, 1774-1789.” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 119.1 (2011): 42-74.
Regularly Taught Courses:
- American Literature I (survey from colonial era to U.S. Civil War)
- Methods of Critical Analysis
- American Romanticism, 1830-1860
- American Literature and the Environment
- Reading the Land: Pastoral & Georgic Literature
- Creative Expressions of Nature (ADK Semester)
- Adirondack Literature
- Cape Cod Literature