Session Title

Premodern Plants (A Roundtable)

Sponsoring Organization(s)

postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies

Organizer Name

Myra Seaman

Organizer Affiliation

College of Charleston

Presider Name

Robert W. Barrett Jr.

Presider Affiliation

Univ. of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Paper Title 1

Fruit, Milk, Rot: From Breast to Death in Perceforest

Presenter 1 Name

Brooke Heidenreich Findley

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Pennsylvania State Univ.-Altoona

Paper Title 2

"Remember, Mugwort": Memory, Temporality, and Vegetable Agency in the Old English "Nine Herbs Charm"

Presenter 2 Name

Lisa M. C. Weston

Presenter 2 Affiliation

California State Univ.-Fresno

Paper Title 3

Planting Empire: Colonial Botany in Seventeenth-Century England

Presenter 3 Name

Peter Remien

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Lewis-Clark State College

Paper Title 4

Laureate Trees

Presenter 4 Name

Danielle Allor

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Rutgers Univ.

Start Date

11-5-2018 10:00 AM

Session Location

Fetzer 1045

Description

In September 2018, postmedieval will publish “Premodern Plants,” a special issue devoted to the ongoing crossing of medieval studies and critical plant studies. The latter field is an emergent ecotheoretical approach that does for medieval plants what critical animal studies has done for medieval animals (as exemplified in the work of such scholars as Susan Crane, Sarah Kay, Peggy McCracken, and Karl Steel). However, as philosopher Michael Marder argues, critical plant studies begins with the reversal of Aristotelian taxonomy, taking seriously those plant characteristics of sessility and mute growth that zoocentric Western philosophy all too quickly dismisses as “vegetative soul.” Marder’s theories are tendentious and frequently utopian in their politics; they are also intellectually liberating insofar as they defy plant blindness with new questions about vegetal life. We thus consider such methods a provocation to explore how contemplation of the plant, from recent scientific controversies about its intelligence and genetic modification to its literary status as a symbol for growth and continuance, can alter our received histories of both the human and the ecological in medieval studies.

Myra Seaman

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May 11th, 10:00 AM

Premodern Plants (A Roundtable)

Fetzer 1045

In September 2018, postmedieval will publish “Premodern Plants,” a special issue devoted to the ongoing crossing of medieval studies and critical plant studies. The latter field is an emergent ecotheoretical approach that does for medieval plants what critical animal studies has done for medieval animals (as exemplified in the work of such scholars as Susan Crane, Sarah Kay, Peggy McCracken, and Karl Steel). However, as philosopher Michael Marder argues, critical plant studies begins with the reversal of Aristotelian taxonomy, taking seriously those plant characteristics of sessility and mute growth that zoocentric Western philosophy all too quickly dismisses as “vegetative soul.” Marder’s theories are tendentious and frequently utopian in their politics; they are also intellectually liberating insofar as they defy plant blindness with new questions about vegetal life. We thus consider such methods a provocation to explore how contemplation of the plant, from recent scientific controversies about its intelligence and genetic modification to its literary status as a symbol for growth and continuance, can alter our received histories of both the human and the ecological in medieval studies.

Myra Seaman