CFP: “Before Environmentalism” (12/19/08; 3/6/09) [updated]
by Jessica C. Murphy
The Early Modern Center of the University of California at Santa Barbara invites paper proposals for our 2009 Winter Conference, “Before Environmentalism.” The conference will take place on Friday, March 6, 2009 at UCSB.
In recent years, scholars have looked to the Renaissance and eighteenth century in order to better understand both the origins of our contemporary environmental crisis, as well as the emergence of modern environmental thinking. Works such as Robert Watson’s Back to Nature: The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance and Gabriel Egan’s Green Shakespeare: From Ecopolitics to Ecocriticism, have brought early modern literary studies into current ecocritical debate. As these and other works make clear, environmental issues such as air pollution, toxic waste, increased urbanization, deforestation, wetland loss, and radical changes in land use were surprisingly timely in Renaissance England, routinely making their appearance in the literature of the day. Indeed, by the time Milton was writing Paradise Lost it was already known that respiratory illness from urban air pollution was second only to the Plague as the leading cause of death in London. The EMC’s one-day interdisciplinary conference will provide a forum to explore early modern literary and cultural responses to the environmental issues that preceded, and indeed gave shape to, modern environmentalism.
The conference will consist of panel discussions, as well as keynote talks by Carolyn Merchant (Professor of Environmental History, Philosophy, and Ethics, UC Berkeley) and Jill Casid (Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Visual Culture Studies Program, University of Wisconsin).
We invite proposals for papers that will add to our understanding of the historical, cultural and political dialogues about the environment and the natural world that came “Before Environmentalism.” We hope to include papers from a range of critical and disciplinary contexts, and we plan to incorporate investigations of literature and culture from the years 1500 to 1800. Possible paper topics may include, but are not limited to, the following: pastoral, urban pastoral, country house poems, natural description, landscape, maps and map making, enclosure laws, herbals, botany, prodigies and natural disasters, technology as mediator between humans and their environment, almanacs and the nature world, farming practices, and emerging science.
Please send abstracts, 300-500 words in length, to EMCConference@gmail.com by December 19, 2008. Please direct any questions to this EMC Conference website, or contact Cat Zusky at email@example.com or Pax Hehmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.