Workshop 2014

42nd UBC Medieval Workshop:Medieval and Renaissance Oecologies

Workshop dates: 7-9 November 2014

Medieval and Renaissance Œcologies seeks to interrogate premodern understandings of the natural world and ecological thinking. A prevailing attitude within modern Western culture has imagined the natural world as “out there,” a distinct realm upon which humans import subjective meaning. More recently, ecocritics and theorists of the new materialism(s) have challenged this conception of nature. This workshop takes up these challenges by investigating the idea of “œcology,” an older and defamiliarizing spelling of the modern concept “ecology.” The spelling is retained in an effort to rethink “ecology” through the study of premodern natural history, taxonomy, hierarchy, and categorization, and to ask what conceptual or metaphorical resources might help us – as located moderns – reorient our perceptions about the premodern past and our present and future moments. In an effort to define complex terms such as “environment,” “landscape,” and “ecology,” we ask where do these terms come from? What came before them? What do they mean here and now? What did conceptions of Nature and “œcology” look like in the Medieval and Renaissance periods and how did different discourse communities define their meanings?

The 42nd UBC Medieval Workshop will be welcoming Dr. Laurie Shannon (Professor and Chair, English, Northwestern University) and Dr. Jonathan Hsy (Associate Professor, English, George Washington University) as plenary speakers.

This conference is part of the ongoing multi-year research project Œcologies (, supported by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

Full programme can be accessed here.