Thursday, October 11, 2007

Land, Landscape and Environment, 1500-1750

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,


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