It’s a pleasure to reflect on the fifth year for the Oecologies network. Since our first annual review in 2014-2015, the network has extended its geographical remit down the Pacific North American Coast, grown and codified its mission and governance, and continued to add new members and activities to its roster. Following last summer’s restructuring of its governance, we’ve been able to foster new partnerships, collaborations, and showcase members’ contributions in exciting ways. Read on!
As in years past, Oe convened and co-sponsored public lectures as well as serving as the umbrella organization for numerous panels and talks at major premodern field conferences and symposia.
Our speaker series this year featured four public lectures: two in Vancouver, British Columbia and two at UC Davis, California.
In the fall, UC Davis kicked off our series and hosted Dr. Vin Nardizzi, who gave a talk titled “Tulips and Turbans in Renaissance Art and Natural History.” If you are keen to hear more about this provocative pairing, you might enjoy checking out the recap of the talk by Samantha Snively, a recent Ph.D. from UC Davis.
Dr. Nardizzi’s visit also included a field trip for graduate students and faculty to UC Davis’ special collections to see a copy of John Gerard’s 1636 The herball, or General historie of plantes.
Oe began 2019 by hosting Dr. Courtney Barajas at the University of British Columbia where she gave a lecture on “Oecotheology: Natural Wisdom in Old English Poetry.” Her talk explored what she terms a “surge of ‘green thinking’” in early medieval England and offered readings of Old English wisdom poems.
The following month, in February, Dr. Jessica Rosenberg gave a talk at UC Davis entitled ‘Harvesting Books and Uprooting Poems: Circulation and Vulnerability in Elizabethan Botanical Cultures.” Her talk drew from the book she is completing during her year as a fellow at the Huntington Library (2018-19). As the title suggests, her work combines history of the book, history of reading, formalism, and natural history in innovative ways.
For the final talk of the year, in April, Dr. Siân Echard (University of British Columbia) and Dr. Matthew Hussey (Simon Fraser University) jointly presented “Ecologies of the Medieval Book” at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Hussey presented first, considering the materiality of several early-medieval manuscripts and textual objects through both their local and global ecologies. Dr. Echard followed with a discussion of the more immediate “environments” of several well-known 14th- and 15th-century manuscripts—the groves of doodles, splotches, and other marginalia that surround and inform their written texts.
In addition to hosting this Speaker Series, Oecologies members organized and participated in several regional conferences. One new feature that we’re proud to institute was the creation of conference pathways for Oecologies members to help them organize their conference schedules and not miss out on relevant eco-friendly sessions. You can view a sample of these pathways posted via our social media sites on Twitter and on Facebook.
Oecologies had a presence at the following conferences:
- the Modern Language Association Chicago, IL (January)
- the Shakespeare Association of America Washington, DC (April)
- the Renaissance Society of America Toronto, ON (April)
- the International Congress on Medieval Studies Kalamazoo, MI (May)
- the 2019 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences Vancouver, BC (June)
- the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment Davis, CA (June)
Partnerships and Collaborations
In addition to these regional and international conferences, members of the executive council worked in partnership to give talks at libraries and symposia across North America. A few highlights include:
- Professor Fran Dolan’s weekend seminar at the Folger Library on “Digging the Past: Writing and Agriculture in the Seventeenth Century“
- Dr. Tiffany Jo Werth’s participation in a new seminar series at the Newberry Library on the Premodern
- Dr. Vin Nardizzi’s involvement with a symposium on “Libertine Botany” in Los Angeles and with “Radical Cultures: Lively Vegetation in Literary Studies” at the University of Texas-Arlington.
We were also excited to break out of the academic mold with an artistic theatrical collaboration spearheaded by one of Oecologies co-founding members, Dr. Patricia Badir. To learn more about this exciting collaboration, see our inaugural blog post on the Galatea Project in Vancouver:
Oecologies is especially proud to welcome into print the first publication emerging from the network. Growing from the conference jointly hosted at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in 2015, Premodern Ecologies in the Modern Literary Imagination features essays by members and collaborators (Robert Rouse, Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, Patricia Badir, Louise Noble, Sarah Crover, Frances E. Dolan, Louisa Mackenzie, Sharon O’Dair, David Coley, Sandra Young, Scott MacKenzie, David Matthews, and J. Allan Mitchell) with an afterword by the prominent ecocritic Ursula K. Heise. You can read more about it at the University of Toronto homepage.
Below is a preview of what critics are saying:
Stay tuned for details of a MLA launch celebration in Seattle (2020)!
As a part of Oecologies commitment to fostering partnerships and collaborations beyond its geographical remit of the Pacific West Coast, we’re excited to announce a multi-year symposia collaboration, “Earth, Sea, Sky” with collaborators from the UK, the US, and Canada.
The first symposia, “Earth” will kick off the series this September, and we’re excited to be supported in part by TORCH, the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. Look for a blog posting in October that will reflect on the conversations that we hope will stretch across three countries in as many years.
We’re also thrilled to announce that Sharon O’Dair (Emerita) has accepted the nomination to be the next incoming Director, joining the Directorial team with Vin Nardizzi and David Coley. While Tiffany Jo Werth is happy to stand back and watch new energy empeople Oecologies, she looks forward to remaining engaged through partnerships such as “Earth, Sea, Sky.”
Perhaps the most visible testament to our evolving network is the revamped Oe website that underwent a major digital image update in the fall of 2018. We’re grateful to our fall Research Assistant, Sawyer Kemp, for all their design inspiration and digital know-how that made it possible. We’re also grateful to the newly christened cohort of graduate student liaisons—Alex Cosh (UBC), Karol Pasciano (UBC), and Breanne Weber (UC Davis)—who have helped with the maintenance of our social media sites and whose enthusiasm launched the new Oe blog monthly posts.
We’d also like to extend a big thanks for the efforts of the membership subcommittee, Louisa MacKenzie and Sharon O’Dair, for their outreach which has resulted in a more diverse and growing membership. J. Allan Mitchell was instrumental in making Oecologies a force at ASLE and the three linked sessions there created a wonderful premodern mini-conference, about which you can read more in this recap written by graduate student participants.