Nathan Drake


Nathan Drake


A native of Bloomington, Indiana, Nathan’s research centers upon the complex, contradictory, and often volatile relationship between humans and animals. Using the American Alligator as a lens, Nathan draws from actor-network theory and “thing” theory to explore the processes by which animals become something other than themselves. While the material animal generally retains its principal physiology, he argues, human institutions have created “cultural animals” that represent a myriad of human emotion and history.


Ph.D. Candidate—Mississippi State University, 2011-present

Dissertation: “Swamp Thing: Alligators, Symbolism, and the Meaning of Animals in the American South”

Major Professor: Peter C. Messer

Master of Arts—East Tennessee State University, 2011

Bachelor of Science—University of Southern Indiana, 2009

Academic Career

Teaching Experience

Instructor of Record, Mississippi State University

Early American History

Summer 2015

Fall 2014

Summer 2014


Graduate Teaching Assistant, Mississippi State University

Early American History, Spring 2015, Fall 2015

Early Western World History, Fall 2012-Spring 2013 (Distance Education)

Modern United States History, Fall 2011-Spring 2012


Graduate Assistant, East Tennessee State University

Teaching American History Grant

Fall 2009-Spring 2011


Professional Employment

Executive Assistant, Agricultural History Society, Summer 2012-Summer 2015

Enrollment and Admissions Assistant, MSU Office of the Graduate School, Winter 2016-present




Research Interests

Early United States History

Modern United States History

Environmental History

Agricultural History

Western History



Review of, The Atchafalaya River Basin: History and Ecology of an American Wetland, by Bryan P. Piazza Journal of Louisiana History (Winter 2016)

Conference Presentations

“Old Butler and the Tennessee Valley Authority” 2011 Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee

“East Tennessee Be Damned: Rural Dislocation and the Tennessee Valley Authority” 2012 Southern Forum on Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History, Millsaps College, Jackson, Mississippi

“Embracing the ‘Exotic’: Satsumas and the Southern Imagination” 2013 Meeting of the Agricultural History Society, Banff, Alberta

“From These Depths: Alligators, Symbolism, and the American Culture of Violence” 2014 Meeting of the American Society for Environmental History, San Francisco, California

“Swamp Thing: Alligators and Early American Nature Writers” 2014 Southern Forum on Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History, Orlando, Florida

“Feral Attraction: The Naturalization of an Exotic Species” 2014 Meeting of the Agricultural History Society, Provo, Utah

“Tail Gator: Alligator Meat Processing in the Twentieth Century South” 2015 Meeting of the Agricultural History Society, Lexington, Kentucky

Solicited Presentations

“Swamp Thing: Alligators, Nature Writers, and the Early American Wilderness” Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and Environment of the South (CHASES), Mississippi State University, February 2014

Professional Associations

  • Agricultural History Society
  • American Society for Environmental History
  • Phi Alpha Theta
  • Western History Association

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