Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Land, Landscape and Environment, 1500-1750

A Conference organised by the Early Modern Research Centre, University of Reading
14 - 16 July, 2008

Current debates over the environment - and in particular over the exploitation or management of natural resources - find their origin in early modern discourses of mastery and stewardship. Whilst a pervasive argument saw it as man's responsibility to exploit the Earth, to what extent were those who made their living from the countryside, and those who wrote about it, ambivalent about landscape change in the name of progress and improvement, both in England, Scotland and Ireland and in the American colonies? To what extent was land, landscape and environment the subject of struggles between those who were the subjects of agrarian capitalism and those who lived off its profits at first or secondhand? How did representations of land and environment develop in this period? Landscapes are lived environments that find expression through buildings and patterns of behaviour, and bring into focus questions of belonging and the relationship between nature and civilisation. What connection can we draw between literary and visual depictions of land and environment - whether as map, image, or text - and these ideas of mastery and control? And what does the recent turn towards 'green politics' in early modern literary studies suggest about the usefulness of twenty-first century political imperatives for an interrogation of the early modern past?

Papers are invited on the following areas:

plantation and colonisation as civilising process; agrarian capitalism and sustainable agriculture in theory and practice; topography and poetry, pastoral and georgic, the chorographical and country-house poem; enclosure, disafforestation and drainage: their advocates, opponents, practice and consequences; law, property rights and tenure; husbandry and husbandry manuals; the country house and its landscapes; horticulture and gardens; rivers; writing the land; artistic representations of landscape; cartography, maps and signs; the country and the city; parks; urban pastoral; travel, travel-writing, walking tours and sight-seeing.

Proposals (max. 300 words) for 30 minute papers and a brief CV should be sent via email attachment by 1 February 2008 to Dr. Adam Smyth, School of English and American Literature, University of Reading, a.smyth@reading.ac.uk


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