Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Attempt at the Definitive Squirrel Post

by KARL STEEL

Rouen, BM ms. 3028, 89v


National Squirrel Appreciation Day came and went, as it always does, with me in the yard, hiding my nuts, and missing my chance, again, to tell the squirrels of America how much I love them.

Sorry, little guys! You’ll have to make do with this, days in the making, a squirrel post so long you may want to bury bits of it to read later.

PETS

Squirrels are a good subject for pet studies because domesticated squirrels are obviously just pets – although I’m prepared to pretend to be shocked when you tell me about your guard squirrel – and because domesticated squirrels strike most of us as an anomaly. Newspapers periodically run stories on cab drivers and other local characters who pal around with squirrels (a sample), but otherwise, to find a land where the squirrels are still chained and tamed, we might have to visit Southern Italy, where I'm told they're sold in petshops.

Eighteenth-century paintings of children with chained squirrels are not all that uncommon. The Brooklyn Museum has one, the New York Historical Society another, the Museum of Fine arts in Boston still another, and the list scampers on to include one by Thomas Hudson, with a boy whose perhaps too wizened face recalls nothing so much as John Malkovich’s. More are collected in this much-plagiarized blog post. One famous champion of slavery, Robert E. Lee, loathed his sister Mildred’s pet squirrel, named Custis Morgan, while the founders of the country he sought to destroy were themselves also mixed up variously with squirrels: in 1772, Paul Revere himself billed one client for a silver chain for a squirrel, while Benjamin Franklin wrote a mocking epitaph for another, named either Mungo or Skugg.

Earlier examples not having to do with America’s Founding Fathers, include Aelbert Cuypt’s Portrait of the Sam Family before the Town of Bacharach (1653), where little Abraham Sam clutches the chain of his little squirrel, and Francesco Montemezzano’s of a woman and hers, in 1575. Later pet squirrels include Bonnie, painted by Joseph Decker in various wild settings, in The Seated Squirrel and another, called either Their Winter Hoard or, outrageously, The Gluttons. The poet Christian Friedrich Hebbel’s squirrel, Lampi (or Schatz), mourned deeply, may be pictured here, living and chained to his kennel.

As for the real goods, the medieval pet squirrels, we have enough to assert, with small confidence, that people kept squirrels for pets, with more frequency, per capita, than they do now. We have a fifteenth-century love ring, French or English, whose inside engraving features a woman with a leashed (metaphorical?) squirrel, at the British Museum; or this page from a mid fourteenth-century Quest for the Holy Grail, whose right margin pictures, naturally enough, a squirrel cleverly chained to its pole, perched atop its little squirrel house, thinking, one presumes, about the Arthurian court’s coming doom. A similar squirrel kennel shows up in an early fourteenth-century Flemish Psalter (MS Douce 5), while the Hours of Anne of Bohemia (1382-1384) have a squirrel with its kennel, no pole, and in the Luttrell psalter, an unchained, unkenneled squirrel, wearing a bell (and later, in the same manuscript, a squirrel riding the shoulder of lady in a wagon). The early fourteenth-century Ormesby Psalter also has a lady with a squirrel in her hand, as does one of the Chertsey Tiles, dating to the last decade of the thirteenth century. Even more medieval (and early modern) squirrels, mostly undomesticated, are collected by this extraordinary post.

Squirrels, like other small animals, seem to have been kept mainly by women and, in later centuries, children, though we know of plenty of men from the later eighteenth century on not afraid to give squirrels their love: in addition to Hebbel, there’s the pet squirrel in the third volume of Hal Willis’s delirious medievalist novel Sir Roland; there’s also I. W. Sickels, who wrote in 1903 that  "the male squirrel is always more or less treacherous,” and observed that a pet squirrel will often hide its nuts "in the pockets of your coat, vest, or pantaloons, or between your collar and neck”; and even John Huston, whose little Pachito, normally a placid chap, once bit the producer Ray Stark.

What’s harder to come by, however, are written accounts of medieval domestic squirrels. To be sure, monastic visitation records complain about nuns keeping squirrels, among other animals (for example, Eileen Power, here; or Archbishop Eudes in mid thirteenth-century Rouen, [also here], whose contempt for pets merits nothing less than his being immortalized as an operatic, or Disney, villain). But without easy access to the Acta Sanctorum (thanks CUNY!), it’s hard to find the stories about squirrels that would be preserved, no doubt, in hagiographic records of grief, trauma, and healing (think of St Cantilupe, who once resurrected a pet dormouse! n5, here).

It’s hard, as well, to find squirrels, because they’re so blessed with names. Which brings me to my second point:

SQUIRRELS, SCAMPERING LATIN, AND WORD ORIGINS

The problem with squirrel research is knowing what to call them. The base form in Latin – sciurus – throws off a mess of possibilities: scira, scuirus, scurulus, scuriolus, quirolus, squiriolus, squiriolis, escorion, escuratus, escurellus, exquirium, squirio, escurellus, aspriolus, esperiolus, espirio, expereol, pirolus, pirulus, pyrolus, speriolus, spiriolus, spiriculus, spirgulus, and asprigulus. I’ve found these mostly through searching the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and Louis Gauchat’s article, below. With no small trepidation, I can also cite cirogrillus, to some, a squirrel, to others, a hedgehog.

This proliferation raises a question of just what counts as a Latin word: obviously, despite having learned Latin as a second language, our writers had some freedom with this noun that they don’t have with, presumably, verb endings. Latin may be a deadish language, but through its pile of corpses scampers the ever-transforming squirrel. All that makes these words specifically Latin are that they’re used with a Latin grammar and vocabulary that made it readily distinguishable different from the common tongue (which may nonetheless have used precisely the same word for “squirrel,” unless it was a region that preferred eichhorn, eichörnchen, or acquerna).

One final point here: the origin of the word squirrel is, they say, in the Greek σκίουρος, σκιά shade + οὐρά tail. This etymology appears wherever squirrel etymologies are likely to be found: in the OED, in the Deutsches Wörterbuch, and so too in this arm of the French state. Centuries old, the proposal may have first been suggested by Conrad Gesner’s mid sixteenth-century Historiae animalium:

Graecum nomen est animalculo datum à cauda, qua supra dorsum reflexa se tegit & inumbrat…ut pedes hominibus illis quos sciapodes fabulose nominant

The Greek name of this little animal is given from its tail, which it bends around above its back and covers and shadows itself…like the feet of those fabulous men that they called “sciapods.”

As fabulous as this is, Gesner might have been wrong, as might everyone who followed. There’s little surprise that no one’s bothered much to correct him, since, in the humanities, the squirrel tends attract no more than its due interest. It may nonetheless be worth noting that, a century ago, Gesner met his match in a skirmish that might be refought, if etymologists see fit, once again, to take up the banner of accuracy.

Louis Gauchat’s 1909 “Les noms gallo-romains de l’écureuil” (available in Volume 2, here) calls the “shade tail” origin an “idée bizarre,” and cites as support, “entre autres,” Schader’s 1901 Reallexikon der indogermanischen Altertumskunde (whose later versions you might check for me) (meanwhile, the OED et al. might check the 1903 Universal Cyclopaedia and Atlas). The Reallexikon suggests that the word might come, more naturally, from scéri, fast or agile, while also pointing out the importance of the root preserved in the Slavic véverica (consider the Welsh wiwer, for example), as this element appears in the Anglo-Saxon ácweorna (Gauchat 194). At the least, the OED might hint at some other possibilities!

ONE LAST SQUIRREL FACT: SQUIRRELS ACROSS THE WATER

At the Twitter, the great Matthew Harrison gifted me with Topsell on squirrels:

They growe exceeding tame and familiar to men if they be accustomed and taken when they are young, for they runne vp to mens shoulders, and they will oftentimes – it vpon their hands, creepe into their pockets for Nuttes, goe out of doores, and returne home againe, but if they be taken aliue, being olde, when once they get loose, they will neuer returne home againe, and therefore such may wel bee called Semiferi [semi-wild] rather than Cicures.

They are very harmeful, and wil eat al manner of woolen garments [and scamper across all manner of power lines], and if it were not for that discommidity, they were sweete-sportful-beastes, and are very pleasant play-fellowes in a house.

Topsell is one of many who repeats this legend:

The admirable witte of this beast appeareth in her swimming or passing ouer the Waters, for when hunger or some conuenient prey of meat costraineth her to passe ouer a riuer, shee seeketh out some rinde or small barke of a Tree which shee setteth vppon the Water, and then goeth into it, and holding vppe her taile like a saile, letteth the winde driue her to the other side, and this is witnessed by Olaus Magnus in his description of Scandinauia, WHERE THIS IS ORDINARY AMONG SQUIRRELLES … [my emphasis]

Olaus Magnus is indeed one source for this, as is, in later years, Carl Linnaeus, who, under sciurus, observes briefly that “Cortice interdum navigat,” and, in much later years, Squirrel Nutkin. Olaus’s contemporary Conrad Gesner also remarks on sailing squirrels, and, in my period, we have, in the fourteenth century, Conrad of Megenberg, and, in the thirteenth, Vincent of Beauvais and Thomas of Cantimpré’s roughly contemporary encyclopedias (the later being adapted into Dutch verse: “ende sitter op, alst in een scip ware, / ende metten staerte seyltet over dare”).


Here the trail goes cold: I’ve lost my nuts, because earlier medieval works of natural science either say nothing about sailing (Albert the Great and Hildegard of Bingen), or, shockingly, not the least thing about squirrels (Isidore, Bede, Rabanus). Why this story begins to be written down only in the thirteenth century is a mystery that could – and perhaps should – be solved only with a grant, or endowed chair, worthy of this great labor. 

Thanks to the following for help and encouragement with this post. You may not have known this was coming: Irina Dumitrescu, Matthew Harrison, Kathleen E. Kennedy, Elaine Treharne, and "bxknits." 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why Chaucer Now? #MLA15

My daughter made me this for MLA
by J J Cohen

I had the honor of participating in a lively roundtable at the most recent MLA on "Why Chaucer Now?" Emma Lipton put the roundtable together and moderated the session so well that the conversation was prolonged and lively. Audience participation and MLA seldom go hand in hand. Inevitably papers go far too long (senior scholars seem especially bad at timing themselves; at least I'd like to think it's a timing issue rather than presumption). Chairs often exhibit a "What can you do?" attitude -- forgetting that some people have traveled very long distances for the conference, and would rather have engagement with the speakers than the live delivery of a performance that could have more comfortably been viewed via video at home.  Admittedly, we also lost two of our Chaucer speakers to the hazards of travel -- but I liked that instead of filling in the opened space with longer presentations the audience was invited to prod and provoke.

Patricia Ingham started the session with an enormously helpful historicization of the question that had brought us together as a panel: should the MLA combine divisions like Old English, Chaucer, and Middle English Exclusive of Chaucer? She ruminated over a long archive of the MLA pondering such bureaucratic and institutional questions embedded within historical ones, and emphasized the public pedagogical outreach that the organization used to do (eg, being involved with the teaching of Chaucer in the high school curriculum). Nicole Nolan Sidhu spoke of the flourishing of supposedly surpassed racism and misogyny within internet porn (so easily accessible, yet "private" and thereby not amenable to intervention or challenge) and used Chaucer to drawn an alternative history of obscenity as a public and reconfigurable discourse.

I'd decided that my own contribution would be about the teaching of Chaucer, and that I'd involve my students in its composition. I'm happy I did. One more quick note and then I'll post it. Emma asked me before I presented how important Chaucer is to my work, and not that long ago I would have said not all that much. I realize that isn't true though. Yes, I've written a few essays, contributed to handbooks, have a Chaucer chapter in one of my books, and so on. But doing the index for Stone and seeing the sheer number of references to Chaucer permeating a book that is in no way about him made me realize that even when I don't think I'm engaging his work, I often quietly am.

Why Chaucer?

            To the question “Why Chaucer?” my response not long ago would have been historicist, emphasizing inertia and disciplinary conservatism. Because we’ve been teaching him in classrooms for so long, one of the few single author courses still on the books at many institutions. Because his London dialect became ascendant, and does not require the depth of special training needed to read other medieval works like the poems of the Gawain poet or anything in Old English. Because the academy is conservative. Because we are inheritors of the pronouncement that Chaucer is the father of English poetry, and even though we know we don’t need a primal father we continue to canonize him through our specialty societies, our publications, our MLA divisions. Because most of us teach in English rather than Literature Departments (and some strong challenges to Chaucer’s supremacy have come from scholars attempting to restore to the British archipelago its roiled diversity of cultures and tongues). Feminism and postcolonial studies can buttress Chaucer’s position at the generative center of medieval English literature, but they have also made us see that Marie de France was just as sophisticated a poet (too bad she wrote in French), and that trilingual John Gower conveys the polyglot truth of late 14th century literature better. We teach and study Chaucer because that’s the field we have been trained to teach and study. Chaucer will vanish as medievalist jobs in English Departments do (followed most likely by English Departments themselves: it's interesting to think who will be coming to these MLA meetings a hundred years from now).
            Why Chaucer? My answer is more complicated now than it would have been last summer. This semester, my twentieth at George Washington University, saw me teaching the Canterbury Tales to undergraduates yet again. Three things occurred that changed how I teach and think about Chaucer’s works. First, the Cengage-owned Riverside Chaucer is now so expensive even in paperback that no professor can reasonably ask students to purchase the volume. For the first time I ordered Jill Mann’s edition of the Canterbury Tales (Penguin Classics, $14). That change in text meant I taught the class from a fresh, clean book lacking the decades of marginalia that have accrued on my Riverside (an amply glossed hardcover held together by duck tape). It was liberating to let those textual predeterminations go, an inscribed history of my normative training as a medievalist. Second, during the fall semester of 2014, it was impossible to close the door of any classroom and expect to bar the entry of the aftermath of the racism and violence in Ferguson, or the growing awareness of the depth and persistence of rape culture on college campuses. Theformer president of GW made some victim blaming remarks about drinking andsexual assault just before I taught the Wife of Bath’s Tale, with its casual narration of a knight who rapes a maiden “maugree hir hed.” I teach that text on day three of the course, so our concerns were clear from the start. Third, I was fortunate enough to have 24 extraordinary students in the class, and they were diverse. Two of them changed the class profoundly, at least from my point of view: K., a student who declared on the first day that they would like to be referred to by third person plural and thereby gender indeterminate pronouns (I took it as a good sign that all the students in the room simply nodded to the request, registering no surprise; and that they were later happy to find in the Pardoner and John/Eleanor Rykener medieval genderqueers); and C., a student who had taken a previous class with me, who emailed me after reading the Wife of Bath’s tale to ask if sexual assault would be a frequent topic in the class because she would likely not be able to sit through discussions. I arranged it so that C. knew in advance what classes would probably touch upon rape – and with Chaucer, that is quite a few. She sat near the door, and if she felt the need, she left. I assured her that was no problem. We had three GW studentscommit suicide in the spring and one more publicly attempt it in the fall semester: those deaths took a toll on my students, and made me realize we need to be more vigilant to signs of distress. I told C. that if leaving class is something she needs to do as an act of self-preservation, then I applaud her for speaking to me and choosing not to endure an unbearable topic. I never understood the recent furor over trigger warnings. They don’t limit discussion, they simply respect the fact that not every one of our students has had the life we wish them to have had.
            Keeping C. in mind, I dreaded discussion of the Reeve’s Tale, with its vengeance rapes. I always teach it with the Cook’s Tale, so we started there, and using the work of Paul Strohm and David Wallace to talk about London, community making, exclusion, and violence directed at those identified as foreign bodies (the Cook’s Flemish proverb as invitation to speak of the murder of the Flemings in 1381 in Chaucer’s boyhood neighborhood). We circled around the edges of the Reeve’s Tale, speaking of dialect and humor, the animal noises and animal desires, the glimpses of rural life, the fabliau structure. But we did not speak directly of the sexual violence at the center of the tale, the events that within my glossed Riverside are given a long contextual history as pranks and topoi, with the aubade supposed to be especially funny. Instead I told my students when we reached the bedroom scene that they know what comes next, that rape is not entertainment, that I did not want to participate in a long history of making light of sexual assault. I asked them to leave thinking about the source of humor in the tale and the essential conversation about rape culture that college campuses are having now. They departed in an uncharacteristically somber mood.

            And that’s all too the good. As I brought the class to a close in December, I asked my students the “Why Chaucer?” question that we are pondering together today. Their answers surprised me. Because he is someone to disagree with as well as be inspired by. Because he is difficult, complicated, artful. Because of the problems he conveys. Because his idea of fellowship as an unlikely gathering of the diverse gets enacted when we read his works together. Because having to learn Middle English together reduces every student in the class to the same starting point, to the same position of shared vulnerability. Because the pilgrims never exactly arrive in Canterbury, and the conversation they start is worth carrying on.

Monday, January 12, 2015

CFP: Presence without Presentism? A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue between Archeology and Literary Studies

Shared at the request of Donna Beth Ellard and Christopher Foley. Please consider submitting an abstract: it looks fascinating!

Theoretical Archaeology Group USA 2015 Conference
New York, NY (NYU)
May 22-24, 2015
Session Proposal (Available online
Presence without Presentism? A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue between Archeology and Literary Studies

Session Organizers:
Donna Beth Ellard (University of Denver, Donna.Ellard[at]du[dot]edu)
Christopher Foley (University of California, Santa Barbara, Christopher.d.foley[at]gmail[dot]com)

The body and its movements have, for many years, been key to the question of professional “presence” within the discipline of archaeology. At an excavation site or in the lab, archaeologists continuously (re)position their bodies in relation to the materials of a site even as they think in the present tense about the historical past. Such work demands that the archaeologist be professionally “present”: that she be, at once, historical interlocutor and artistic co-creator, assembling a scholarly version of the past that self-consciously refracts the personal investments of her embodied mind.

Literary studies, on the other hand, is a field that often capitalizes upon not being present. Literary critics trade in representation, “inhabit” fictional spaces, and perhaps most importantly they While historicism, a method invested in temporal difference and distance, often gives a necessary frame to a text, a frequent criticism of literary critics who don’t historicize appropriately or enough is that they are guilty of presentism, of constructing their arguments in too close a proximity to their personal selves.

This session seeks to engage a dialogue between archaeology and literary studies, two fields that have traditionally had little to say to one another, by considering the question of presence in both disciplines. We ask: What are the practices of professional presence in archaeology?  And how can these practices inform and, perhaps enable, a more open and self-reflective scholarly “presence” in literary criticism?   Our hope is to foster a dialogue that might reimagine the notion of critical presence as a productive point of convergence, where the artificial binaries of professional/personal and historical/theoretical are not opposed to one another but instead meet in a creative, critically inspired assemblage.

To these ends, we hope to engage in some form of pre-conference collaboration between archaeologists and literary critics, and we especially invite participants interested in talking with, and learning from, one another as participants in this panel.


If you are interested in presenting on this panel, please submit a 250-abstract to either Donna Beth Ellard or Christopher Foley by February 28, 2015.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Your New Year's Resolutions for #MLA15?

by JONATHAN HSY

It's January, which means I (like many other academics) am wending my way toward the MLA (Modern Language Association) Convention. I'm very much looking forward to Vancouver this year. I'll be responding to three great papers in Disability and the Arthurian World (session 402, organized by Alex Mueller) and also taking part in a roundtable (session 687) on "Beyond Monolingualism?" (I'm the only medievalist in this session, organized by Avishek Ganguly with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak as respondent).

If you're heading to MLA and are in a position to actually experience the event as a conference, why not resolve to make some changes in your conference-attending habits this year? Here are some example resolutions for MLA this year.
  • Make an effort to include a variety of voices when moderating a discussion.
  • Avoid "all superstar" sessions.
  • Explore sessions outside of medieval studies and/or outside my subfield/speciality/academic discipline.
  • Use social media mindfully (this includes attributing speakers and using session hashtags on twitter).
  • When meeting a new person, I will speak to their face, not their (affiliation-bearing) name tag.
  • Rehearse my presentation and keep it under the time limit.

What resolutions are you making this year?

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Scale of Catastrophe: Draft Syllabus

click to enlarge
by J J Cohen
[read Karl first!]

I announced it here a year ago (and check out the drowned world pic from the Holkham Bible I used to illustrate the post): beginning later this month I will be teaching a seminar at the Folger Shakespeare Library on The Scale of Catastrophe: Ecology and Transition, Medieval to Early Modern. I'm very much looking forward to working with so many materials outside my scholarly comfort zone, and participants from across the US who have far more knowledge of much of the early modern archive than I possess.

Here's the draft of my syllabus, aided immensely through crowdsourcing some discussion of course texts via Facebook and Twitter. A heartfelt thank you to everyone who offered suggestions. At this point I've cut about 50% from what I had crammed onto the original: we have only so much time, and it is going to take some marathoning to get through what's here already. I'm very happy to hear suggestions for augmenting the course biography (primary as well as secondary sources) -- and if anyone want to point out that a work I've chosen is not going to work as well as I am anticipating, please let me know. I'd also really love to have advice on specific editions of Raleigh and Heywood to use (or avoid). To download the draft syllabus as a nice PDF, click here.

The Scale of Catastrophe: Ecology and Transition, Medieval to Early Modern
Medieval and early modern texts imagined the world as intercatastrophic: precariously flourishing between a Flood that only Noah and his family had survived and a fiery apocalypse to come, the purging of the mortal world. Although the Deluge was in the distant past, divinely promised never again to arrive, medieval and early modern writers share a vocabulary for transition in which both fire and flood are invoked to mark historical breaks and anxious moments of transition. This seminar will pair medieval texts fascinated by survival in the face of cataclysm with early modern texts that carry the stories they offer into new realms. Participants will investigate how the scale of catastrophe is narrated, where scale is size (local, global, cosmic) and structure, a ladder [scala] that arranges nature into hierarchy. We will consider the gender of catastrophe, mapping whether women tell different stories against and within catastrophe from men, and contemplate the frequent linking of disaster narratives to stories of race. The schedule of readings frequently pairs medieval texts with early modern ones that reinterpret them. Participants are expected to bring their own research to discussion and assist in the creation of a course archive. The seminar meets Thursdays 1–4:30 p.m., 29 January through 23 April 2015, excluding 12 March, 2 April, and 9 April. Participants are asked to attend the GW MEMSI symposium "Transition, Scale and Catastrophe" on Friday March 20 in lieu of the Thursday March 19 seminar meeting.

January 29
Promise/Threat

Genesis chapters 1-25 in the Douay-Rheims or King James translation (both if you have the time; the Latin Vulgate as well if you have the skill)
Holinshed’s Chronicles: Britain and the Flood (“of Noah & his three sonnes”):
Laurie Shannon, Accommodated Animal chapter 1 (“The Law’s First Subjects”)

February 5
Fire/Water

Beowulf (in Old English if you can; otherwise Seamus Heaney’s postcolonial Irish translation, including his foreword)
The Londoners Lamentation” (on the Great Fire)
Greg Garrard, Ecocriticism (pay special attention to chapter on “Apocalypse”)

February 12
Between Deluge and Deluge

Chester play of Noah’s Flood
Chaucer, “Miller’s Tale” “Franklin’s Tale”
“True report of certaine wonderfull overflowings of waters, now lately in Summerset-shire, Norfolke, and other places of England” (disaster pamphlet)
Albrecht Dürer, “Dream Vision” [of deluge]
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Introduction, chapters 1, 4, 6, Epilogue)
Sharon O’Dair, “Slow Shakespeare: An Eco-Critique of ‘Method’”

February 19
Foundation or Apocalypse

Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain
Des Grantz Geanz and De origine gigantum
Karl Steel, “Woofing and Weeping with Animals in the Last Days” postmedieval 1 (2010):187-93
Anne F. Harris and Karen Eileen Overbey on Lush Ethics (“Field Change / Discipline Change”)

February 26
Not Sustainable

William Camden, Britannia (“Author to Reader” “Britaine” “The Name of Britaine” ‘The Downe-Falle or Destruction of Britain” “The English Saxons” “The Danes” “The Normans” “The British Ocean”)
William Shakespeare, Cymbeline
From PMLA 127.3 (2012): Eleanor Johnson, “The Poetics of Waste: Medieval English Ecocriticism,” Tobias Menely, “The Present Obfuscation”: Cowper’s Task and the Time of Climate Change, “Sustainability” cluster short essays by Stacy Alaimo, Dan Brayton, Stephanie LeMenager and Stephanie Foote, Steve Mentz

March 5
Rough Seas / Bookwreck

William Shakespeare, King Lear
Lear story and its aftermath in Holinshed
Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea chapter 8 (environmental history without catastrophe)
Steve Mentz, At the Bottom of Shakespeare’s Ocean

Friday March 20
Symposium on "Transition, Scale and Catastrophe" @ GW


March 26
Material Elseheres

John Mandeville, Travels
Walter Raleigh, Discovery of Guyana
Serenella Iovino and Serpil Oppermann, “Stories Come to Matter” (Material Ecocriticism)
Stacy Alaimo, Bodily Natures chapter 1 and 4
Drew Daniel, The Melancholy Assemblage, “Introduction”

April 16
To Weather

Thomas Dekker, The Wonderful Year
John Heywood, The Play of the Weather
Lowell Duckert, “When It Rains” (Material Ecocriticism) and “Maroon” (Prismatic Ecology)
Tim Ingold, Being Alive: “Earth and Sky,” “The Shape of the Earth,” “Earth, Sky, Wind and Weather,” “Landscape or Weather-World?”

April 23
Presentations. Retrospect. Prospect