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Registration: Nature & Environment in Early Modern Worlds (24 June 2024, Edgbaston/hybrid)

Keynote speaker: Professor Peter Mancall (USC)

Hosts: Tom Cutterham, Katie Bank, Simon Smith


The early modern period was pivotal in the emergence of hyper-extractive and carbon-intensive environmental regimes, driven by the growth of global commerce, slavery, and empire. In the same period-between Columbus voyages and the age of coal and steam-peoples both within and outside of imperial power-structures were developing new ways of understanding nature, and humanity's relation to it. Since the global climate crisis began ot be seriously acknowledged over the last few decades, scholars have increasingly turned their attention to these intertwined problems, and to their early modern roots. At this interdisciplinary conference, we aim to showcase work that engages with questions of nature and environment, and to encourage conversations about how our work on early modern worlds might intersect with those the contemporary and the future.


Registration is free and includes a light lunch.


9:30 AM - 10:00 AM: Registration and Welcome (+ coffee)


10:00 AM – 11:00 AM: Keynote Lecture, Peter Mancall

Two Agricultural Revolutions and the Landscapes of Colonization


11:00AM - 11:15 AM: Short Break


11:15 AM - 12:45 PM: Light + Land

Chair: Tom Cutterham

1. Light, Sleep & Environment: Illuminating Sleep Timings in the Early Modern English-Speaking World

- Speaker: Holly Fletcher

2. The Oswalds of Auchincruive: Slavery, ‘Improvement’, and Landscape Change in South-registration-nature-environment-in-early-modern-worlds-24-june-2024-edgbaston-hybridWest Scotland

- Speaker: Scott Macfie

3. Reshaping the Dawnland: Settler place-making in early "New England"

- Speaker: Betsy Cazden


12:45 PM - 1:45 PM: Lunch (provided)


1:45 PM – 3:15 PM: Environment Staged

Chair: Simon Smith

1. The Corncrake and the Bastard: bio-acoustic loss in Shakespeare's King John

- Speaker: Elizabeth Freestone

2. Climate Determinism in Shakespearean Tragedy: Macbeth under the Volcano

- Speaker: Todd Borlik

3. Cry “Hallowe”: The Hunting Soundscapes of Early Modern Playhouses

- Speaker: Timothy Holden


3:15PM-3:45PM Coffee Break


3:45PM – 5:15PM:  Nature + Culture

Chair: Katie Bank

1. Sounds and Silence in the work of George Morland (1763–1804)

- Speaker: Becky Smith

2. Natural Soundscapes and the Construction of Knowledge in Jean Lemaire's La Concorde des deux langages (1511)

- Speaker: Jeannette D. Jones

3. Catholicism and the Environment in Early Modern Italy

- Speaker: Josh Rushton


5:15PM – 6:00 PM: Roundtable Discussion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Early Modern Environments

- Panelists: TBC


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