Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Engaging with Nature: Essays on the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Academic journal article Medium Aevum

Engaging with Nature: Essays on the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe

Article excerpt

Engaging with Nature: Essays on the Natural World in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Barbara A. Hanawalt and Lisa J. Kiser (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008). viii + 236 pp ; 21 black-and-white plates. ISBN 978-0-268-03083-4. $30.00 (p/b). Described as 'a landmark collection in the field', this volume, based on a series of lectures and colloquia held at Ohio State University, comprises seven essays by very eminent scholars of medieval and early modern literature and culture. In their nuanced introduction, the editors remark the special difficulties of probing the subject in a period when scientific treatises were not yet the norm, and of defining and conceptualizing nature, and note recent theoretical and scholarly directions. Richard C. Hoffman surveys the interrelationship of individuals and nature in the Middle Ages, arguing for the active collaboration of humans with their natural environment. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen turns to nature in the imagination, to explore the use of animals as ways into other, different worlds and behaviours, and into theories of hybridity relating to notions of race and ethnicity. Susan Crane examines the courtly art of the hunt, to consider how ideas of aristocracy and hierarchy were mirrored in hunting rituals. …

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