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Rachel Nisbet

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Feb 2020-Jan 2023)
Clothworkers South Building
Arts Humanities and Cultures
Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute

I am very grateful to be a LAHRI post-doctoral fellow (2020-2022). During my time at the LAHRI, generous mentorship from David Higgins and affiliation with Leeds University’s Environmental Humanities Research Group has enabled me to grow as a researcher.

I joined the institute having followed two, fully funded doctoral programmes that led to PhDs in biogeochemistry (2002) and ecocriticism (2018).

Current Research

My current projects contribute to the field of material ecocriticism. They investigate how fictional productions attune people to the Great Acceleration of elemental flows that animate biota and abiotic environments. I am presently working on two studies, which analyse poetic literary texts or stage adaptations, characterized by their rhythmical, formal arrangement:

A book project, provisionally titled Listening Guides for A Common Good: Lessons from Four River Narratives of Change. This reworking of my recent PhD thesis contributes to addressing a broad, ethical question; namely, can fictional narratives influence contemporary environmental stewardship? Drawing on mixed-methods (virtue ethics, reception studies, close-reading, narrative theory, and material ecocriticism) I interpret a transhistorical series of river narratives as being composed to situate readers as change-makers. Focusing on four, influential texts, I propose they hone our attentiveness to feedbacks between agents’ actions and shifting environmental patterns to develop readers’ relational values.

A transhistorical analysis of Frankenstein stage adaptations. My postdoctoral research project examines cultural understandings of two terms that are increasingly used in climate change discourse: namely, ‘restoration’ and ‘adaptation’. It proceeds by examining how nature(s) are staged in selected, melodramatic stagings of Mary Shelly’s novel (1823-2019). It draws on translation theory, narrative theory, musicology and energetic rhetorical theory . In examining the cultural history of these terms, I draw on and seek to contribute to contemporary, climate justice research, and the implementation of nature-based solutions.

Small Grants (< £4000)

  • Public outreach grant for a sustainable consumption event, taking place at CERN (2022).
  • ESSE Bursary for research linked to my Staging Frankenstein project (2021)
  • Seed funding grant for an academic conference, publication and podcast (forthcoming) on the potential for participatory poems to map long-term change in ‘nature-based solutions’ development projects (2020).


I have designed and taught undergraduate courses in the English Department of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland (ecodrama; William and Dorothy’s Lake District, and creative writing, where I also delivered first year, textual analysis classes (2011-2017).

Service & Memberships

Reviewer for the IPBES Values Assessment (2021)

Membership of the following learned societies: SERA; EASLCE; APL; SAUTE



Nisbet, Rachel. ‘Four facets characterising environmental defenders of the Sahtu Dene: a literary-historical approach’, in Ramos et al. (eds), Policy Matters. Special Issue on Environmental Defenders 22, vol. 2, (2021), 67-75.

Nisbet, Rachel. ‘Jouer Frankenstein pour les « speculative eyes » ? L’incidence des premières représentations sur l’énergie rhetorique des fictions scientifiques’, Res Futurae 18 (2021), online.

Nisbet, Rachel. ‘Anna Livia’s Glamorous Ecopoetics’, in Dwellings of Enchantment: Writing and Reenchanting the Earth, edited by Bénédicte Meillion. Washington: Rowman and Littlefield, 2020.

Nisbet, Rachel. ‘James Joyce’s Urban Ecoanarchism’, Ecozon@:European Journal of Literature, Culture and Environment 7:2: Urban Ecologies (2016), 10-28.

Climate Justice (technical paper)

FEBA (Friends of Ecosystem-based Adaptation). Vidal Merino, Mariana; Kang, Yi hyun; Arce Romero, Antonio; Pahwa Gajjar, Sumetee; Tuhkanen, Heidi; Nisbet, Rachel; DeMaria-Kinney, Jesse; Min, Annika K.; Atieno, Wendy C.; Bray, Bryce. Climate Justice for People and Nature through Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA): A Focus on the Global South, PlanAdapt, Berlin, Germany and IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 2021.

Biogeochemistry (published under Hosein)

Föllmi K.B., Hosein R., Arn K., Steinmann P. (2009) “Weathering and the mobility of phosphorus in the catchments and forefields of the Rhône and Oberaar glaciers, central Switzerland: Implications for the global phosphorus cycle on glacial–interglacial timescales” in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73, pp. 2252-2282.

Hosein R., Arn K., Steinmann P., Adatte T., Föllmi K.B. (2004) “Carbonate and silicate weathering in two presently glaciated, crystalline catchments in the Swiss Alps” in Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 68, pp. 1021-1033.

Föllmi K.B., Tamburini F., Hosein R., van de Schootbrugge B., Arn K., Rambeau C. (2004) “Phosphorus, a Servant Faithful to Gaia? Biosphere Remediation Rather Than Regulation” in Stephen H. Schneider, et al., ed. Scientists Debate Gaia: The Next Century, MIT Press: Cambridge Massachusetts, pp. 79-92.