CEAH Seminar, July 1

bill 1ABOVE Attendees at the July 1 seminar at the Waymarker, Constantine (left to right): Bryony Oncuil, James Ryan, Jeremy Cronon, Caitlin DeSilvey, Joao Florencio, Tim Cooper, Ria Dunkley, William Cronon, Veronica Vickey, Elena Isayev; absent, Rose Ferraby and David Paton (car trouble). Photo credit: William Cronon.

BELOW Walking off our cream tea, over the fields to the abadoned Maen Quarry. Photo credit: Rose Ferraby.



Storytelling with Bill Cronon

On July 1 Professor William Cronon, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be presenting a public lecture at the Penryn Campus with the title: “The Portage: Time, Memory, and Storytelling in the Making of an American Place”. Professor Cronon will be down for the whole week as a guest of CEAH, and we’re planning a series of informal conversations to develop links between his exciting work with the Centre for Culture, History and Environment in Wisconsin and our research activities here in Cornwall. All are welcome at the lecture, which is jointly hosted by the Environment and Sustainability Institute, and will be held in Exchange Yellow Seminar Room at 1pm. The lecture will be followed by an off-campus seminar, attended by CEAH members and invited guests.

Sustainable Cornwall?

Today, in a very grey and damp Penryn, we’ve been talking about Sustainable Cornwall–Exploring the Cultural Connection. The event is co-organised by the Institute of Cornish Studies and the Environment and Sustainability Institute, and includes contributions from three CEAH members: Joanie Willett, Tim Cooper and Garry Tregidga (ICS Director). The presentations have touched on many themes: place-making and identity, disaster and resilience, cultural politics, the link between strong communities and sustainability, balancing nature and culture in restoration and regeneration projects. Many conversations about sustainability tend to focus on future solutions and agendas, with scant attention given to past precedents and possible lessons to be learned from historic relationships between people and place. Not so today, where the conversation has been grounded in reflection about the specificity of Cornwall’s past, and how it might help navigate a path to a sustainable future.

Green Connections Symposium

This September, in lieu of hosting our own September Sympoisum, we’ll be participating in a symposium in Exeter on the topic of ‘environmental response and the arts’. The symposium, primarily targeted at postgraduates and creative practitioners, will be held on September 5 at the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus. CEAH partners from the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, RANE and ECLIPSE are also involved, and it promises be to a fascinating gathering. For more details please see the CFP Green Connections.

Soil Culture

Our friends in the RANE research group at Falmouth University and The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW) have extended an invitation for a Soil Culture Forum which they’ll be hosting in July.

Soil is a material on which – even in the age of the internet – the whole of civilization depends. Along with clean air and fresh water, it is one of the fundamental components that support life on this planet. Without a healthy layer of soil, life and human society as we know it would not be able to function. Along with most of Earth’s natural resources soil can be considered finite; it is non-renewable on a human time scale.

Despite our knowledge of this fact, mankind continues to misuse and abuse this fundamental matrix of life. Climate change and pollution, erosion and desertification are all having a devastating impact. Although the word ‘culture’ has its metaphorical roots in the improvement of soil, we have lost that fundamental connection, and healthy soil is disappearing fast.

Inspiring people through art and literature on environmental issues can do what conventional advocacy often struggles to do: kindle the imagination, open minds to creative possibilities and engage communities. The Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World (CCANW), in collaboration with Falmouth University’s RANE (Research in Art, Nature and Environment) research group and MA Art & Environment; and other national and international partnerships, is delivering a programme of events during 2013 – 2016. These exhibitions, residencies, workshops and socially engaged activities, which include the Soil Culture Forum, will re-examine the cultural and environmental importance of soil and the underlying issues.

March CEAH Seminars

The Geography and English departments at the Penryn Campus will be hosting two international seminar speakers in March, as part of the activities of the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities.

On Wednesday 5 March Dr Lynn Keller, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will present a talk titled: Contemporary American Poetry and the Scalar Challenges of the Anthropocene. Lynn’s seminar is part of the Geography Seminar Series, and will take place at 4pm in Peter Lanyon Lecture Theatre 4.

Abstract: Recognizing that we live in a new era of the earth’s history– one in which the composition of the atmosphere, the acidity of the oceans, and the fate of innumerable species are being determined in large part by human activity– has profound consequences for the human imagination. Poets, who have traditionally celebrated nature as awe-inspiringly apart from the human, are now grappling with the challenges of thinking of nature as something that humans significantly determine. This talk will explore some experiments contemporary U.S. poets are undertaking in their attempts to imagine our responsibilities for the planet and its biosphere at nearly incomprehensible scales, both vast and minute.

On Thursday 20 March Dr Lesa Scholl, from the University of Queensland, will present a talk titled:  ‘Th’ food stuck in their throats when they thought o’ them at home’: Hunger, Mobility, and Community in Harriet Martineau’s Illustrations of Political Economy (1832-34) and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton (1848). Lesa’s seminar is part of the Penryn Seminar Series, and will talk place at 5pm in Peter Lanyon Lecture Theatre 1.  There will be a drinks reception in the staff common room in Peter Lanyon after the talk.

Biography: Dr Lesa Scholl is the Dean of Academic Studies at Emmanuel College, University of Queensland, and was awarded her PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2008. Her monograph, Translation, Authorship and the Victorian Professional Woman: Charlotte Brontë, Harriet Martineau and George Eliot, was published by Ashgate (2011). Her other publications include articles and chapters on Harriet Martineau, George Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Henry Mayhew and pedagogical approaches to translation theory and literature. Her research interests extend to literature as cultural history and economic fictions, and she is currently writing a monograph on literary representations of hunger and mobility 1832-1867.

Environmental Futures

The Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and the Center for German and European Studies (CGES) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are pleased to be partnering with the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society (RCC) in Munich and the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory (EHL) in Stockholm to host an international workshop that invites artists and writers, scientists and humanists, scholars and activists, to participate in “The Anthropocene, Cabinet of Curiosities Slam.” The workshop will take place in Madison, Wisconsin from Nov. 8-10, 2014. In the spirit of poetry/spoken word slams, contributors will be asked to pitch in a public fishbowl setting an object for the Anthropocene that asks us to rethink humanity’s relationship to time, place, and the agency of things that shape planetary change. How is the appearance and impact of Homo sapiens as a geomorphic force registered in the sediments of history, the objects around us, and the things yet to be? What emotionally layered Anthropocene objects can surprise, disturb, startle, or delight us into new ways of thinking and feeling? What objects speak to resilience or adaptation, to vanishing biota or emerging morphologies? Based on the audience response at the slam, contributors will be invited to participate in the design of an Anthropocene cabinet of curiosities as part of a larger exhibit on the Anthropocene being planned by the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Presentations will also form the basis of a collected series of short essays to be published as part of the CHE, RCC, EHL collaborative project on Environmental Futures. More details here.

Centre in focus

CEAH was recently the subject of a focus piece on the University’s website that highlighted our interest in collaborating and networking with a range of enterprises, organisations and creative practitioners with businesses in Cornwall. Alex Huke (Knowledge Exchange Manager with the University) was quoted as saying, “Researchers can help organisations and businesses explore the way our cultural and artistic relationships with the environment impact, influence and inform our behaviours as individuals and communities. Our collective and individual interactions with the environment are influenced by scientific, legal, social and cultural norms. Better understanding these interactions, and the role cultural and artistic values play in this mix, is important in overcoming barriers to the adoption of pro-environmental behaviours and finding new, creative, solutions to the future environmental challenges we face.” Thanks, Alex!