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Professor Kate Rigby

Professor Kate Rigby (Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation) was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship in 2021, which she took up at the University of Cologne in February 2022. Having been appointed to one of the world’s first professorships of Environmental Humanities at Monash University in 2013, she became the founding Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities at Bath Spa University (U.K) in 2016, where she was also Course Director of Bath Spa’s innovative interdisciplinary MA in Environmental Humanities.

Prof. Rigby holds a BA (Hons) and research Masters degree in Germanic Studies from the University of Melbourne, a PhD in German Studies and Comparative Literature from Monash University, and she also undertook postgraduate studies at the University of Freiburg and postdoctoral research at the University of Paderborn. Branching out from her home territory of German Studies and Comparative literature, she joined the inaugural Australian Ecological Humanities Research Network in 1999, and subsequently became founding President of the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment and Culture-Australia-New Zealand, and then founding director of the Australia-Pacific Forum on Religion and Ecology@Monash.

Her expertise within the Environmental Humanities lies primarily in environmental literary, historical and religious studies. Together with Freya Mathews and Sharron Pfueller, she co-founded the journal, Philosophy Activism Nature. Much of her research has been focused historically on the Romantic period, with German and British philosophies of nature and poetics of place featuring in her 2004 monograph, Topographies of the Sacred. Her work is informed by ecological feminist, new materialist and decolonial thought, as well as by multispecies studies and disaster studies, all of which are interwoven in her work on ‘histories, narratives and ethics for perilous times’, Dancing with Disaster (2015) (which includes a suddenly highly topical chapter on ‘Spreading Pestilence’). In her most recent monograph, Reclaiming Romanticism (2020), she draws several strands out of the tangled legacy of European Romanticism and weaves them into an ‘ecopoetics of decolonization’, inspired by the work of a range of modern and contemporary poets from North America and Australia. In her current research, Prof. Rigby working on a new monograph that combines biblical scholarship and ecopoetic writing with ethnographic research on contemporary Christian environmental initiatives and ecopolitical activism in Kenya, India, Australia, Brazil, USA, UK and Germany.