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American Studies

College of Arts and Sciences

Frieda Knobloch, Associate Professor

BA Cornell University, 1985;

Ph.D. University of Minnesota, 1994

Originally from Buffalo, NY, Frieda Knobloch earned a BA in English from Cornell University in 1985 before moving to Montana, and living and working on a ranch there. She returned to school in 1989, earning a PhD in American Studies with a minor from the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1994. Her book, The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture as Colonization in the American West (University of North Carolina Press, 1996), was in part an effort to understand where she had been living in the West and Midwest, and the cultural forces at work in agricultural land use. She taught American studies, environmental studies, women’s studies, and US history at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, before joining the UW American Studies Program in 1997.

Her interest in plants and their collectors led her to study the founder of the Rocky Mountain Herbarium at UW, Aven Nelson, and his second wife, Ruth, with whom he traveled and collected in the last twenty years of his life. Her book, Botanical Companions: A Memoir of Plants and Place (University of Iowa Press, 2005), explores the Nelsons’ fieldwork in the context of changing expectations of botanical practice, and as a personal as well as professional encounter with landscapes through plants. Aven Nelson’s collecting routes brought her to Wyoming’s Red Desert in 2001, whose cultural and environmental histories have inhabited her work since.

Knobloch is an affiliate faculty member in creative non-fiction in the MFA writing program at UW; active in teaching with the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources; and adjunct faculty in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her interest in habits and patterns of thought over time inform her graduate and undergraduate courses in American Studies as a field, inter- and non-disciplinary theory and practice, changing ideas about nature and environment, cultural diversity, and environment and society.


Frieda Knobloch, Associate Professor

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