Erica Hannickel

Professor of Environmental History

Erica Hannickel, Associate Professor of Environmental History
Office:Wheeler 326
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Earned and Honorary Degrees

PhD American Studies, University of Iowa, Iowa City
MA American Studies, California State University, Fullerton
BA Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego


I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas in northern California, and spent significant time cross-country skiing, hiking, and canoeing on Donner Summit. I came to love the Midwest in my six years living in Iowa for my doctorate, and am thrilled that northern Wisconsin is a place that perfectly mixes this Midwestern quality of life with astounding forests and all types of water activities, much like my childhood in northern California.

I majored in Ethnic Studies as an undergraduate, and continued my studies in the history of social justice in the United States as I gained a master's degree and PhD in American studies. Throughout my training, I have focused on the intersection of multiple American environments with various forms of power.


I teach courses in environmental history, agricultural history, and gender and women's studies. At Northland, I focus on interdisciplinary teaching, especially in the Nature and Culture and Humanities Departments, the gender and women's studies program, the history major, the humanity and nature studies major, and the Growing Connections program.

While I love teaching US History and environmental history surveys, my favorite courses are my upper-level classes where we can drill down into specific topics, such as American Foodways, Nature and Nation, and Gender in the Landscape. I also love teaching the Senior Research Seminar in the humanities each year. In that class, I get help students in executing their own specific research passion for their last semester at Northland.


My research interests, beyond U.S. environmental and agricultural history in general, include Victorian material culture and deathways, 19th century botanical gardens, and the history and politics of orchid growing and community gardening. I am at work on two book-length projects, both focused on 19th century U.S. botany.


  • Chapter in anthology: “Alcohol,” published in The Routledge History of American Foodways, eds. Jennifer Jensen Wallach and Michael T. Wise (Routledge, March 2016).
  • Empire of Vines: Wine Culture in America, University of Pennsylvania Press (December 2013).
  • Article: Fretting Over Federalism: Reexamining Allegorical Indian Architecture in William Bartram's Travels. ISLE 20:1 (Winter 2013), 85-111.
  • Article: Cultivation and Control: Grape Growing as Expansion in Nineteenth-Century United States and Australia. Comparative American Studies 8:4 (December 2010), 280-96.
  • Article: A Fortune in Fruit: Nicholas Longworth and Grape Speculation in Antebellum Ohio, American Studies 51:1/2,(Spring/Summer 2010): 89-108.

Student Involvement

Beyond skill-building in reading, writing, and speaking in the classroom, students accompany me to local museums, visitor centers, and cemeteries. I often connect them with meaningful internship experiences. I love catching up over coffee with students and alums on college breaks—and when we can add a little local lady slipper orchid hunting into our time together, all the better!


I take full advantage of the growing season as an avid organic vegetable, herb, and flower gardener in Ashland's community garden. I am a serious indoor orchid hobbyist, a Wisconsin Master Gardener, a dedicated yogini, and I love to SUP.