CALL FOR PAPERS: Nature & the Natural in the Humanities: Teaching Environmental Sustainability
Date: April 27, 2012
Location: University of Birmingham
Event type: Workshop

Deadline : Thursday March 1, 2012
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Climate change and environmental degradation are often described as the pressing concerns of the current generation.  This workshop aims to explore ways in which lecturers in the humanities can engage with these issues through the study of literature, language, religion, philosophy, history and art.  Relationships between humans, the environment, nature and landscape are themes throughout human history in literature, philosophy, art and religion through struggles with and over nature.  A wide variety of literature can be read and reread in these terms–for example Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Thoreau’s ‘experiment’ in Walden and social commentary on the ideology of the rural life such as in Ringuet’s Trente Arpents or even the iconic ‘road trip’ books or movies such as Kerouac’s On the Road.  The environment and non-human actors play a key role in religions as objects of worship, sacrifice, uncleanness, food (both permitted and prohibited) and designated sacred spaces.  In historical terms the natural environment has informed national identity, foundation myths and is seen as a source of economic prosperity and culture.

This workshop will explore how these themes might inform the university curriculum in the humanities. Papers are welcome in, but not limited to, the following themes.

  • Relationships between humans and the natural environment in literature, culture, history or religion.
  • Language or philosophy and environmental change
  • Animals and other non-humans in literature, culture, history or religion
  • Fictional and historical landscapes
  • Rereading classic texts as environmental texts.
  • The preservation, protection and reproduction of and reproduction of historical landscapes, e.g. national parks, living history museums.


  • This event is free of charge.
  • Please note that there is a cancellation fee of £50 if you do not notify us by Monday 16 January 2012 that you are unable to attend.
  • Lunch will be provided