This option paper equips students with the interdisciplinary methods to rethink familiar themes in early North American and U.S. history with the environment at their centre. Our focus will be on processes of colonisation, knowledge production, and resource extraction. We will read both classic and new work in order to trace historiographical developments and identify important research questions. Throughout, we will interrogate what is “natural” and what is political, and consider the intersections between ideas about sex, sexuality, gender, race, and the environment. Proceeding chronologically, the paper will, for instance, examine ecological change and the commodification of nature within narratives on European colonisation of the Americas; the ecological impacts of indigenous and Euro-American empires; historical practices meant to manage scarcity and promote sustainability; and the ideas about natural abundance and wilderness that have shaped American society. In this effort, we will operate on both large and small scales. Analysis that draws on the natural sciences, historical geography, and economics helps to understand great shifts in American environments and economies, while work that draws more from the theoretical tradition of science and technology studies engages closely with lives ranging from sixteenth-century enslaved pearlfishers to nineteenth-century immigrant miners.