Environmental History Professor to Discuss Society’s Dependence on Automobiles in Lecture Here March 4

“Nightmare or Love Affair?"

Dr. Christopher Wells, associate professor of environmental history at Macalester College, will give a lecture titled “Nightmare or Love Affair? The History of Car Dependence in the United States” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.


The lecture, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the St. Thomas departments of History, Political Science, Geography, and the interdisciplinary programs of Environmental Studies and American Culture and Difference.

Wells, who earned his doctorate in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is author of many articles, chapters and the 2012 book Car Country: An Environmental History.

His book analyzes the environmental changes associated with expanding automobile use and changes in automobile technology in the 20th century in the United States.

Information about Wells’ book, including an interview, can be found on the book’s website.

Dr. Christopher Wells

Dr. Christopher Wells

Writing in Southern California Quarterly, Theodore Strathman described Car Country as “an outstanding piece of scholarship. … Like much of the best environmental history, it utilizes a range of approaches, bringing together political history, the history of technology, and economic history.

"And like much of the best environmental history, Wells' approach may best be described as ecological: he deftly untangles the interconnections among humans' economic practices, institutional arrangements, and ideas, and the environments upon which these activities depend. … Wells' book is a remarkable achievement. Anybody interested in how the automobile shaped the American environment will regard Car Country as indispensable."

More information about the lecture can be found on the History Department’s website.