Faculty Colloquium Claire Campbell
Environmental history explores the relationship between people and the natural world in the past: how nature has shaped human thoughts and actions, and how, in turn, humans have shaped the landscapes around them. It includes the material (sites of resource extraction, patterns of settlement, grooves of transportation routes) and the imaginative (representations in cartography, art, and science; networks of knowledge and exchange; feelings of identity and sense of place.) This talk travels north-east to Canada’s maritime provinces: a stunningly beautiful littoral of land and sea in the north Atlantic, and more importantly, an extensive archive of historical experience with the capacity and limits of the natural world. I’ll relate a number of stories from over several centuries to ask what we can learn from these coastal communities, especially with regards to imagining a post-industrial landscape. (There are important parallels to be made with both coastal New England and the rural mid-Atlantic states.) The talk draws upon a kaleidoscope of sources – historical maps, paintings, literature, political rhetoric, landscape reading, and more – to convey some of the dimensions and practices of environmental history.