Jessica J. Lee

Instructor & Writer
Profile Photo

Jessica J. Lee is a British-Canadian-Taiwanese author, environmental historian, and winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature, and the RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award. She is the author of two books of nature writing: Turning (2017) and Two Trees Make a Forest (2019), shortlisted for Canada Reads 2021. Jessica has a PhD in Environmental History and Aesthetics and is the founding editor of The Willowherb Review. She is a researcher at the University of Cambridge. 

Classes

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Stories

Cover Photo: An image of tea leaves in containers
Taking History Personally: Tea, Selfhood, and the Story of Empire

Tea plants—and the drinks we make from them—carry so many meanings.

Jul 14, 2021
Cover Photo: An image of seaweed floating in the water
How Seaweed Shapes Our Past and Future

What do we make of the weediness of seaweeds?

Jun 24, 2021
Cover Photo: An  illustration  of a hand opening  a box—cherry blossoms flow out of the box. Ribbons of  yellow, white, blue, fill the  background.
Budding History: On Nationalism and Cherry Blossoms

Through myth-making and symbolism, the natural world comes to stand in for potent human ideals.

Jul 23, 2020
Cover Photo: A screenshot from Liziqi's YouTube video. On the table are purple potatoes, soy milk, steamed rice cakes, fruits, and flowers. An elderly Chinese woman sit as the  table  holding a spoon filled  with some soy milk.
What Soybeans Can Be

Soybeans were linked to life itself.

Jun 17, 2020
Cover Photo: An illustration of woman holding a mango on her hands to the left side of the illustration. In the background is a mango tree. On the right is a building with a woman  using  picking pole to get the mangoes on the tree.
The Many Meanings of the Mango

Mangoes—revered and prized by almost every culture in which they are cultivated—are a migrant fruit.

May 11, 2020
Cover Photo: An image of heather on hill at sunset.
How the Literature of Empire Shaped My View of the Natural World

It took me years before I realized that I’d built my notions of beauty from the stories of a distant land.

Apr 02, 2020
Cover Photo: An image of a Fukien Tea Tree against a light pink background. On the right side of the tree we see the growth of green leaves. A white flower grows from a branch into the left, surrounded by branches.
My Grandfather and the Fukien Tea Tree: A Botanical History

I added it to the list of things off-limits: questions about the past, the wars, why my grandparents had fled China for Taiwan. Why eventually they left that place too.

Feb 19, 2020