Carlos Alonso Nugent

Carlos Alonso Nugent

Research Interests


Carlos Alonso Nugent is an Assistant Professor in both the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. In his research and teaching, he draws on and develops US literary and cultural studies, Latinx literary and cultural studies, critical race and ethnic studies, and the environmental humanities.

Nugent is currently completing a book called Imagined Environments: Mediating Race and Nature in the US–Mexico Borderlands. In a multilingual mode of literary studies, the book reads novelists like John Rollin Ridge, essayists like Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, and activists like César Chávez. Meanwhile, with methods from media studies, it examines promoters who encouraged whites to claim homesteads, periodistas who emboldened Latinxs to protect pueblos, and leaders who helped Natives fight for sovereignty. By following these figures through the borderlands, the book reconstructs a range of “imagined environments”—Nugent’s term for the frameworks through which human groups have represented, related to, and resided in their more-than-human worlds. While many of these imagined environments have come to seem normal and natural, Nugent shows how they have functioned as sites of relational racialization—how they have linked whiteness to water infrastructure, or how they have associated Latinidad with communal land tenure. Through such interventions in critical race and ethnic studies, he charts new courses for the environmental humanities. Like many ecocritics, he explains how texts, images, and other media have fueled environmental activism—how they have helped us love places we have never been and care for creatures we have never met. Yet at the same time, he argues that these media have made it easier for us to disguise or disregard our use and abuse of the planet.

While finishing his first book, Nugent is starting a second that is tentatively titled Nuestra América: A Literary and Cultural History of the Anthropocene. Beyond the books, he has published articles in American LiteratureAmerican Literary History, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and EnvironmentModernism/Modernity Print Plus, and other venues; for this research, he has received American Literature’s Foerster Prize as well as fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center, the Huntington Library, the Beinecke Library, and elsewhere. 

Before beginning his academic career, Nugent taught at a high school in New York City and an elementary school in Meco, Spain. He grew up in Tucson, Arizona. He maintains a website with more information on his research, teaching, and collaborations.