Joel Thielen


Joel Thielen studies visual cultures of Japan from an ecocritical perspective. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Colorado College and spent three years working in Japan before joining the Berkeley History of Art Department in 2016. Joel’s interests lie in the emerging field of eco art history; he utilizes environmental histories, ecology, and geography to explore the relationships between our natural environments—including human-made “natural” environments—and the visual cultures of Japan during the early modern, modern, and contemporary periods. Most recently he is working on a project that considers the post-3.11 memorialization of the “Miracle Pine” (Kiseki no ippon matsu) in the city of Rikuzentakata. By placing the Miracle Pine in conversation with a 350-year environmental history of this site, this project seeks to draw out the tensions between ossified visual memories of a specific place, and ever-changing landscapes.