Elizabeth Mazzolini

Elizabeth Mazzolini.

Elizabeth Mazzolini

Elizabeth Mazzolini


Science Studies, Ecocriticism, Environmental Humanities, Waste Studies, Environmental Movements, Media and the Environment, Class and Environmentalism, Environmental Rhetoric

Selected Publications

Recent Articles

  • “The Institution, the Archive, and the Smoke-Filled Room.”  College Composition and Communication, forthcoming.
  • “The Taste of Oil.”  Cambridge Companion to Literature and Climate.  Cambridge:  Cambridge UP, 2022, 87-99. Print.
  • “Toxic Attachments:  Drug Epidemics and a Sense of Place.”  the minnesota review 92 (2019): 73-94. Print.


  • The Everest Effect:  Nature, Culture, Ideology (University of Alabama Press, 2015)
  • (co-edited with Stephanie Foote) Histories of the Dustheap: Waste, Material Cultures, Social Justice (MIT Press, 2012)

Works in Progress

“American Toxic” is a book-length project that recovers widespread use of the term “toxic” from mere metaphor by connecting it to co-incidental poisonings in the late 1970s:  peak smoking rates in the US, the crisis at Love Canal, and the emergency at Three Mile Island.  While the book is about toxicity, it focuses not on biological or chemical mechanisms of delivery and antidotes, but on communicative ones.  The moments I look at are part of what I call “rhetorical infrastructure”:  material arrangements enabling communicative action. With toxicity theorized in humanistic scholarship as a breaching of borders via exercise of power, and with the understanding that rhetoric too is shaped by power, “American Toxic” articulates poisoning through rhetorical events. The book shows how the foundation of contemporary reference to the toxic was laid not only by the ubiquity of toxins themselves (which hardly remain contained to the events I explore), but also by the way the toxins were rhetorically shaped, by poisoners and victims alike.  Resisting reference to our living in “unprecedented times” and the slick metaphorization of toxicity, “American Toxic” recovers toxicity’s communicative materiality, remaining cognizant that the purity and wholeness subtending use of “toxic” are politically loaded fantasies.  Insisting on the specificity of material power dynamics around communicative apparatuses, “American Toxic” enables critique of the toxic without recourse to purity.