Michael P. Branch Papers

Identifier: AC 0006

Scope and Contents

The Michael Branch Papers includes Branch's work in researching, defining, and publishing about the history of American nature writing before and after the work of Henry David Thoreau, his work as coeditor of The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) during its formation and early years, research, drafts, and related publication information for his books John Muir's Last Journey, Rants from the Hill, Raising Wild, and On the Trail of the Jackalope, lectures, articles, manuscript reviews for others, and conference information.


  • 1993-2018


Conditions Governing Access

Unprocessed collection. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice required.

Biographical Note

Mike Branch is a writer, humorist, environmentalist, father, and desert rat who lives with his wife and two young daughters at 6,000 feet in the remote western Great Basin Desert. His work includes eight published books, one of which is the Pulitzer Prize-nominated John Muir’s Last Journey: South to the Amazon and East to Africa (Island Press). He has three recent books: Raising Wild: Dispatches from a Home in the Wilderness (Shambhala / Roost Books, 2016), Rants from the Hill: On Packrats, Bobcats, Wildfires, Curmudgeons, a Drunken Mary Kay Lady, and Other Encounters with the Wild in the High Desert (Shambhala / Roost Books, 2017), and ‘The Best Read Naturalist’: Nature Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (co-edited with Clinton Mohs, University of Virginia Press, 2017).

He has published more than 200 essays, articles, and reviews, and has given more than 300 invited lectures, readings, and workshops. His creative nonfiction includes pieces that have received Honorable Mention for the Pushcart Prize and been recognized as Notable Essays in The Best American Essays (three times), The Best Creative Nonfiction, The Best American Science and Nature Writing, and The Best American Non-required Reading (a humor anthology). His essays have appeared in magazines including Utne Reader, Orion, Ecotone, Slate, Terrain.org, National Parks, Hawk and Handsaw, Places, Red Rock Review, and Whole Terrain, and have been included in numerous books, including Let There Be Night: Testimony on Behalf of the Dark (University of Nevada Press), Trash Animals: The Cultural Perceptions, Biology, and Ecology of Animals in Conflict with Humans (University of Minnesota Press), Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together (MIT Press), Wonder and Other Survival Skills (Orion Readers book series), and Best Creative Nonfiction of the South, Volume I: Virginia (Texas Review Press).

Mike’s essay series Rants from the Hill offers a comic view of life and parenting in the spectacular but rugged and remote environment of the high desert. The series consists of sixty-nine 2,000-word essays that were published monthly between July, 2010 and April, 2016 in High Country News online at http://www.hcn.org/. The Rants received more than 100,000 page views, have been widely reprinted, and have been taught in creative writing and/or environmental literature courses at colleges and universities around the country. Many of these short essays have also been professionally produced as podcasts that are available for free on iTunes.

Mike, who is Professor of Literature and Environment at the University of Nevada, Reno, is co-founder and past president of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE), served for sixteen years as the Book Review Editor of ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, and is a co-founder and series co-editor of the University of Virginia Press book series Under the Sign of Nature: Explorations in Ecocriticism. When he isn’t writing, Mike enjoys activist and stewardship work, native plant gardening, bucking stovewood, playing blues harmonica, sipping sour mash, cursing at baseball on the radio, and walking at least 1,000 miles each year in the hills and canyons surrounding his remote desert home.

[From Michael Branch's website: http://michaelbranchwriter.com/about/]


43.25 Cubic Feet (44 boxes)

Language of Materials



Michael P. Branch is a professor of English at UNR. Includes copy of his 1993 dissertation from University of Virginia; research files for his books, Reading the Roots: American Nature Writing before Walden" (he edited), John Muir's Last Journey, Rants from the Hill, Raising Wild, and On the Trail of the Jackalope; also includes materials from the early years of The Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) where he was one of the original founders along with Scott Slovic and Cheryll Glottfelty (check) at the University of Nevada, Reno and other lectures, manuscripts reviews, articles, and conference information.


Preliminary inventory. Arrangement as material was received.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Michael Branch in July 2014, March 2015, October 2016, November 2017, January 2019, and December 2022.

  • ASLE duplicates; graduate work for comprehensive exams for PhD work at University of Virginia.


Guide to the Michael P. Branch Papers
Jessica Maddox
November 2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. University Archives Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno NV 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)