Mark D. Hersey

Mark D. Hersey


  • History of Science and Technology
  • Agricultural, Rural and Environmental History


  • Associate Professor


  • U.S. South
  • Environmental and Agricultural History
  • Rural America
  • African American History


  • Co-Editor, Environmental History
  • Beverly B. and Gordon W. Gulmon Scholar in the Humanities


An environmental and landscape historian by training and inclination, much of my research centers on the American South, most especially on Alabama and Mississippi. That research is often agricultural or rural in focus, though it intersects with the history of science and technology as well.  My first book, My Work Is That of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011), situated the agricultural and environmental work of the famed African American scientist George Washington Carver in the context of both the conservation movement of the early twentieth century and the environmental history of Alabama's Black Belt. The research for the book touched off the two projects that I am currently working on. The first is a landscape history of the physiographic Black Belt of Alabama and Mississippi that examines the connections between identity and ecology in the region from its time as Creek, Choctaw and Chickasaw country through the end of the twentieth century. The second focuses on the history of agricultural ecology, beginning with the long-neglected connections between ecology and agronomy in the Progressive Era. I have also begun a third project that returns to environmental biography, taking the life of John Burroughs as lens through which to view the history of the northern Catskill Mountains. In addition to that research, I currently serve as the co-editor of Environmental History.


  • Carver

    "My Work is that of Conservation: An Environmental Biography of George Washington Carver (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011) One of Booklist's Top Ten Books on the Environment, 2012.

  • A Field on Fire: The Future of Environmental History, co-edited with Ted Steinberg (University of Alabama Press, 2019).

Recent Articles, Essays, and Book Chapters:

  • “Stories, Old and New,” Roundtable on the New Materialism, Agricultural History 96 (May 2022): 237-242.
  • “Peaches and Dreams: The Making of a Peach State,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 105 (March 2021): 64-68. Review of William Thomas Okie, The Georgia Peach: Culture, Agriculture, and Environment in the American South (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2016).
  • “Agroecology,” in R. Douglas Hurt, ed., A Companion to American Agricultural History (Wiley Blackwell, 2021 – forthcoming), with Albert G. Way.
  • “New Directions in Environmental History,” American Historian (September 2019), available online at
  • “Shared Ground: Between Environmental History and the History of Science,” History of Science 57 (December 2019), with Jeremy Vetter.
  • “An Anxious Pursuit: Racial Privilege and the Origins of American Conservation,” Reviews in American History 46 (March 2018): 86-90.
  • “Of Mutual Dependence: History and the Natural Sciences,” Journal of Ecological History (2019), translated into Chinese.
  • “The New South and the Natural World,” in Interpreting American History: The New South, James Humphreys, ed. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2017), 241-266. Co-authored with James C. Giesen.
  • Environmental History in the Heart of Dixie,” Alabama Review 70 (April 2017): 99-111.
  •  “The Lay of the Land: Environmental History, the South, and Kentucky,” Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 115 (Spring 2017), 129-153.
  • "Sketches from the Black Belt: Landscape, Identity, and the Remaking of the South," Keynote Address, Annual Meeting of the British Agricultural History Society, Saturday, Nottingham, UK, April 2023.
  • "Oh, Deer!: Landscape, Wildlife Science, and the Recovery of Whitetail in the Twentieth-Century American South," Annual Meeting of the American Society for Environmental History, Boston, Massachusetts, March 2023.
  • “Trace and Places: Landscape as a Teaching Tool for American Studies,” Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, May 20, 2022.
  • “Rural Worlds Remade: Ecology, Identity, and Crop Regimes in Alabama’s Black Belt,” Annual Meeting of the American Society for Environmental History, Eugene, Oregon, March 25, 2022.
  • “Deerscapes, Easements, and the Neglected Landscape Legacy of Hunting in the Heart of Dixie,” Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 8, 2022.
  • “American Deerscape: Towards a Landscape History of Hunting,” Helsinki Environmental Humanities Hub, November 9, 2021, University of Helsinki.
  • “Black Belt Sketches: Ecology and Identity in the American South,” Fulbright Bicentennial Inaugural Lecture, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, November 5, 2021.
  • Roundtable Discussion on Journal Publishing," Biennial Meeting of La Sociedad Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Historia Ambiental (SOLCHA), Quito, Ecuador, July 7, 2021. (Virtual).
  • “Roundtable: The Civil War as Ecological Event,” Annual Meeting of the Society for Civil War Historians, June 18, 2021. (Virtual.)
  • “Roundtable: Should Agricultural Historians Care about the New Materialism,” Annual Meeting of the Agricultural History Society, June 3, 2021. (Virtual.)
  • Forum Discussion: “Journals and the Remaking of Scholarly Fields,” Streaming STREAMS, a Virtual International Conference for Environmental Humanities hosted by KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Stockholm, Sweden, August 6, 2020.
  • Roundtable Discussions on Publishing and the Environment at the Science and Technology in the Long Twentieth Century Conference, Purdue, Indiana, November 15 -16, 2019.
  • “’The More or Less Practical Applications of Botany’: Ecology and American Agriculture in the Early Twentieth Century,” European Rural History Organization, Paris, France, September 13, 2019.
  • “The Ecology of Segregation: Race and the Southern Landscape in the New Deal Era,” Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference, University of Helsinki, May 18, 2018.
  • "Environmental History in Alabama,” Southern Environmental History Symposium, Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, Auburn University, March 9, 2017.
  • “The Landscape of Identity in the Heart of Dixie,” February 13, 2017, Rice University, Mellon Seminar on “Environment, Culture, Limits: Thinking through the Long Anthropocene.
  • ”“A Model for Future Biographies in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine?,” NSF Workshop: From “Missing Persons” to Critical Biographies: Reframing Minority Identity in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Harvard University, October 13, 2016.
  • “A Field on Fire: Donald Worster and the Future of Environmental History,” at The Wealth of Nature, The Limits of Nature: Donald Worster and Environmental History, sponsored by the Center for Ecological History at Renmin University, Beijing, China, June 27-29, 2016.

2021-2022 Fulbright Finland Bicentennial Chair, University of Helsinki, Department of Cultures, North American Studies Program.

2017 Daniel F. Breeden Eminent Scholar Chair in the Humanities, Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities, College of Liberal Arts, Auburn University.

”Beverly B. and Gordon W. Gulmon Deans Eminent Scholar in the Humanities, 2019-2022

Professional Service: