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CfP for NeMLA 2020: Plants in Early Modern Literature and Culture

Vegetative/Meditative States and Other Lessons from Plants in Early Modern Literature and Culture (Seminar)

In the Age of the Anthropocene, it is often hard to look away from the human, yet it is vital that we turn our attention to the world around us. American nature essayist Annie Dillard wrote, “I suspect that the real moral thinkers end up, wherever they may start, in botany” (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek). Our seminar, “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Thinking with the Non-Human in Old Regime French Literature” for NeMLA 2019 in Washington, DC drew our attention to the non-human in a French context. Our seminar this year urges participants interested in Plant Studies in an early-modern context to consider plants and their roles in European cultures during this time period. Possible areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to:

Herbal treatises and manuscripts

Plant taxonomy and botanical philosophy

Medicinal properties of plants and plant lore

Herbs and plants used for childbearing and postpartum purposes

Plants in literature or visual art

Food Studies and plants

Garden Studies

Book Studies and plants

Critical plant studies and/or ecocriticism

Colonial botany

Cabinets of curiosity, herbaria and botanical gardens

Horticulture & wonder

Plant-human crossroads/hybridity

Early-modern forestry

We welcome papers in English since we hope to cultivate exchange across geographic borders and disciplines. This seminar will be conducted by reading pre-circulated papers of 10 pages or fewer; each participant will be assigned to closely read another participant’s article, introduce it, generate some thoughtful questions, and moderate discussion. In this way, we hope to delve into the world of plants and draw out rich connections and divergences between papers. Please submit an abstract of 250 words or fewer directly through the NeMLA website by September 30, 2019.

You may submit your abstract directly through the NeMLA portal here:

September 30, 2019: Abstracts due via NeMLA portal

October 15, 2019: Applicants will be notified of acceptance status

March 5-8, 2020: NeMLA Convention in Boston, MA (

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