full name / name of organization:
European Shakespeare Research Association
Early Modern Nature: Shakespeare, Science and Myth
Amy L. Tigner, University of Texas, Arlington, USA
Jennifer Munroe, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, USA
Taking an ecocritical approach to the conference topic, this seminar will consider the import of evolving approaches to nature in the period—in particular, how a mythic approach to nature changes to a descriptive mode that involves empirical observation and how these various approaches materialize in texts by Shakespeare and his English and European contemporaries.
To what extent does classical myth enhance, distort, and/or re-present, the way that men and women in early modern Europe actually experienced the nonhuman world? How did either classical myth or science allow for early modern European men and women to express, as well as perhaps displace, their relationship to Nature. What are the limits of fictionalization of Nature in these texts? Of its materiality? What do we gain or lose by looking at Nature through the lens of myth and myth through the lens of Nature in texts by Shakespeare and other writers from this period? How much do early modern texts, including those of Shakespeare, depict scientific discourse as a fiction in its own right versus a re-materialization of Nature?
Papers might investigate the following (but are not limited to these):
• how transforming bodies in classical mythology are relevant to how the body participates
(through transformation) in natural systems;
• how human bodies and plants are interrelated in material as well as mythic ways in
Shakespeare and his English and European contemporaries;
• how human and animal bodies are combined in a kind of hybridity of nature;
• how classical myths raise questions about Nature and early modern understanding of the
• how the material and the metaphoric understanding of natural cycles, often described
mythically, inform the early modern subject;
• how the mythos of nature informs Shakespeare’s language and imagery, even as this
vision begins to move to technological and scientific modes of thinking.
• how classical myth and/or science reveals a gendered way of thinking about the natural
This seminar participates in the ongoing conversation in the burgeoning field of ecocrictism that concerns the literature and culture of the early modern period.
Deadline for Paper Proposals:
Please submit an abstract (200-300 words) and a brief bio (150 words) by 1 October 2012 to
the convenors: Amy L. Tigner (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jennifer Munroe (email@example.com).
All participants will be notified about the acceptance of their proposals by 1 November 2012.
The deadline for accepted seminar participants to send their completed paper is 1 April 2013.
Assistant professor of English at the UT Arlington, Amy L. Tigner is the author of Literature
and the Renaissance Garden from Elizabeth I to Charles II: England’s Paradise, Ashgate, May
2012, and is currently working on her second monograph, From the Garden to the Kitchen:
Horticultural, Culinary, and Literary Practice in Early Modern England. Her research interests
are centered on Shakespeare, ecocriticism and food studies.
Jennifer Munroe is Associate Professor of English at UNC Charlotte and author of Gender and
the Garden in Early Modern English Literature (Ashgate, 2008) and editor of Making Gardens
of Their Own: Gardening Manuals for Women, 1500-1750 (Ashgate, 2007). Most recently, she
co-edited (with Rebecca Laroche) Ecofeminist Approaches to Early Modernity (Palgrave, 2011).
Munroe is currently working on a monograph about the relationship between women, nature,
and writing in the context of seventeenth-century scientific discourse.