Environmental historians have been gaining a reputation for innovation in digital history. Last month at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Society for Environmental History, I served as a commentator on a very well-attended panel called, “Digital Environmental History: Tools and Projects.” For a panel at the end of the day on the final day of the conference, it was extraordinary that the room was filled. This is just one sign of the growing interest in the use of digital technologies in environmental history. On that same day, a new digital environmental humanities blog called Ant, Spider, Bee launched. This panel and others at the conference spawned some interesting debate and conversation about digital environmental history. Readers should take a look at the following posts for some of that conversation:
Lauren Wheeler, “ASEH 2012: Madison, Wisconsin and Digital History”
Rob Gee, “Am I a Digital Historian?”
Jeffrey Johnson, “Gathering the Digital History Diaspora”
Picking up on Johnson’s post and his call to bring more attention to new and exciting digital environmental history projects, I have decided to try to do just that in a periodic series called “Digital Environmental History Highlights.”
The folks over at H-Environment have long been at the forefront of digital environmental history. The H-Environment listserv remains the single largest digital community of environmental history scholars. One of the most interesting new projects at H-Environment has been the Roundtable Reviews, edited by Jacob D. Hamblin. These roundtables essentially provide an extended forum to discuss and debate in detail a particular book in environmental history. Moving beyond the typical book review format, the Roundtable Reviews go into greater depth and even provide the author the opportunity to respond to the group of reviewers. H-Environment has now published six Roundtable Reviews, the most recent [PDF] of which looks at Nancy Langston’s book Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of DES. Mark Hamilton Lytle, Frederick Rowe Davis, Thomas R. Dunlap, and Stephen Bocking provide excellent analysis and critique of Langston’s fascinating history of diethylstilbestrol (DES), the first synthetic chemical to be marketed as an estrogen and one of the first to be identified as a hormone disruptor.
Interested readers can keep up with the Roundtable Review series and all of the great content on H-Environment by subscribing to the listserv here.