Kirk B. Sides

Credentials: UW-Madison

Position title: Assistant Professor, English


Degrees and Institutions

Ph.D. Comparative Literature, University of California, Los Angeles
B.A. magna cum laude History, University of South Florida


African Literatures, Environmental Humanities, Ecocriticism, Postcolonial and Decolonial Ecologies, Science and Speculative Fiction, Climate Change

Research Interests and Bio

Kirk is Assistant Professor in English. Prior to his appointment in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kirk was a Lecturer (US Assistant Professor equivalent) in World Literatures in English at the University of Bristol, UK. After receiving his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA, Kirk was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Witwatersrand’s Institute for Social and Economic Research in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has published articles in the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, Safundi: Journal of South African and American Studies, and Critical Philosophy of Race, as well others.

Kirk’s research focuses on environmental thinking in African literatures from the beginning of the 20th century to the present. A specialist in African environmental literatures and humanities, his current book manuscript, African Anthropocene: The Ecological Imaginary in African Literatures, explores the relationship between ecological and decolonial thinking in African literary and cultural production across the 20th century.

His research has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, and the Brigstow Institute. In 2021, Kirk was a “Futures” Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society in Munich, as well as a Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Penn State Humanities Institute.

Kirk has also co-created a series of workshops, titled “Anthropocene Storytelling,” which employ speculative and creative methodologies for thinking about environmental precarity and climate change. Using narrative as a form of ecological knowledge these workshops encourage participants to engage in acts of speculative storytelling as a way to think about planetary change. “Anthropocene Storytelling” has been hosted by numerous institutions and platforms including the Pennsylvania State University, the University of the Witwatersrand, and “Visions & Voices” at the University of Southern California.

Selected Publications

“Eco-Cosmogonies: Climate Change and Ecological Form.” Verge: Studies in Global Asias, v. 8.1, 2022.

“Anthropocene Storytelling: Ecological Writing and Pedagogies of Planetary Change.” (Co-authored with Tjawangwa Dema) Teaching Postcolonial Environmental Literature and Media, ed. Cajetan N. Iheka. New York: Modern Language Association, January 2022, pp. 298-308.

“Holocaust and the Indian Ocean: Jewish Detention in Mauritius, 1940-1945.” Quest: Issues in Contemporary Jewish History, v.19, September 2021, pp. 105-133.

“Seed Bags and Storytelling: Modes of Living and Writing after the End in Wanuri Kahiu’s Pumzi.” Critical Philosophy of Race: Special Issue on Race and the Anthropocene, v. 7.1, January 2019, pp. 107-123.

“Narratives of Modernity: Creolization and Early-Postcolonial Style in Thomas Mofolo’s Chaka.” Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, v. 5.3, April 2018, pp. 158-175.

“Apartheid’s Ghosts: Slavery in the Literary Imagination.” Cambridge Companion to Global Literature and Slavery, ed. Laura Murphy, Cambridge University Press, (Forthcoming, 2022)

Courses Taught

Literatures of Decolonization
African Environmental Narratives