Attending the Landscaping Change Conference
Between March 2015-2016, the British Academy funded a series of events entitled Landscaping Change: Exploring the transformation, reconstitution and disruption of environments through the arts and humanities and social science. MA in Literature, Landscape and Environment student Sheryl Medlicott attended the conference, and has prepared this report.
From the 29 to 31 March 2016 I attended the Landscaping Change conference at Bath Spa University. The conference, convened by Samantha Walton, tutor on the MA Literature, Landscape and Environment, with support from Bath Spa University and the British Academy, brought together writers, artists and humanities scholars to consider the meaning of place for those who live, work or visit there and the effects felt when places change.
Many of the papers were directly relevant to the subject matter of the MALLE. A particular example was Terry Gifford’s response to Mark Cocker’s criticism of new nature writing in the New Statesman. He argued for the need for new nature writing to address global warming and the Anthropocene, with reference to Timothy Clark’s recently published (2015) Ecocriticism on the Edge. As I am currently taking the Ecocriticism module of the MA, it was exciting to be present for the discussion of these contemporary ecocritical issues and will undoubtedly benefit my studies.
It was also interesting to see the variety of ways in which papers were presented, reflecting different types of academic and creative work: from close textual analyses, such as the explorations of ecofeminist poetry from Veronica Fibisan, Nancy Jones and Lucy Summers, to performances such as Jonathan Prior and Samantha Walton’s ecopoetic sound collaboration and Steven Hitchins’ reading from his work The White City, and reports such as Rebecca Schaaf and Juliann Worrell Hood’s presentation on their ‘Lines of Desire’ interdisciplinary art and geography project. Keynote speaker Christopher Jelley took a particularly interactive approach, introducing us to the concept of ‘word-harvesting’, where we noted down words that came to us during his talk to later turn into lines of poetry that he digitally ‘pinned’ to the campus location in Newton Park.
As a MALLE student, just a few months into my part-time degree, this was my first experience of an academic conference and it proved to be invaluable, both in terms of the discussion and volume of ideas I encountered and the insight into academic life.
The British Academy have just announced that Landscaping Change will have follow on funding for 2016-2017. To find out more about the ongoing project, visit our blog.
Follow the conference as it happened on our Storify