Pastoral Sounds, International Conference, November 13-15, 2014 at the University of Poitiers, France

full name / name of organization: 
Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd, Charles Holdefer, Thomas Pughe, University of Poitiers and University of Orléans, France

Pastoral Sounds

International Conference, November 13-15, 2014 at the University of Poitiers, France

Co-sponsors: FORELL, Université de Poitiers, and REMELICE, Université d'Orléans

"Pastoral's ancient and universal appeal – to come away – requires new examination in an age in which there is no away" (Glen A. Love. Practical Ecocriticism: Literature, Biology, and the Environment).

We cannot doubt that animals both love and practice music. That is evident. But it seems their musical system differs from ours. It is another school… We are not familiar with their didactic works. Perhaps they don't have any. (attributed to Erik Satie by John Cage. Silence)


Following a first international conference devoted to the pastoral in March 2012 at the University of Orléans, where 25 researchers from France, Australia, Canada, the United States and Great Britain explored the "poetics and politics of place," a second conference, to be held at the University of Poitiers, will focus on the topic of "pastoral sounds."
Papers are invited on the question of how sound informs pastoral writing and art in the English-speaking world—with "pastoral" to be taken broadly as pastoral sensibility, from its earliest expressions to contemporary echoes, including anti- or post-pastoral perspectives which question the idealized dialogue between humans and nature.
Echoes of Arcadia come in many shapes and forms, and the conference organizers hope to receive proposals from scholars in various fields: literature, film, cultural studies, environmental history, classical and popular music and art. Topics could include the following:
• pastoral sensibility and sounds in regard to poetic form or patterns, musical composition or genre, and how the dialectic between "simple/natural" and "complex/artificial" can be employed or rendered irrelevant by works that defy such categories;
• tension between harmony and discordance, including harmony between social constructs and an environment perceived or constructed as "natural;"
• pastoral sensibility and the representation or presence of non-human sounds in the "natural world," from non-human phenomena or animals. How is this fashioned or expressed poetically, vocally or musically?
• the translation of the pastoral ideal into sound—are there inherent tensions in the genre? what about pastoral echoes in works that make no explicit claim to share in the pastoral ideal? what about the so-called "silence of nature?"

The conference language will be English.

Selected bibliography:
BUELL, Lawrence. The Environmental Imagination: Thoreau, Nature Writing, and the Formation of American Culture, Harvard UP, 1996
---------The Future of Environmental Criticism: Environmental Crisis and Literary Imagination, Oxford: Blackwell, 2005.
CAGE, John. Silence, lectures & writings, London : Marion Boyars, 1980.
CHARTIER, Denis, & PUGHE, Tom. Littérature & écologie: vers une écopoétique. Ecologie et Politique 36, pp., 85-97, 2008.
CRONON, William, "The Trouble with Wilderness," Environmental History, repr. The Best American Essays 1996, Robert Atwan, ed., Houghton Mifflin, 1996
GIFFORD, Terry, Pastoral, London and New York: Routledge, 1999.
LOVE, Glen A. Practical Ecocriticism: Literature, Biology, and the Environment, University of Virginia Press, 2003.
MARX, Leo, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (1964), Oxford U Press, 2000
SNYDER, Gary, A Place in Space, Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995.
WILLIAMS, Raymond. The Country and the City, (1973), Hogarth Press, 1985.

Please send your proposals (300 words and a brief bio) to Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd (, Charles Holdefer ( and Thomas Pughe ( by January 31, 2014. Acceptance will be notified by February 28, 2014.