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A two-day virtual conference via Zoom.

Tuesday 27 June: 2.00 - 6.30pm
Wednesday 28 June: 10.00am - 5.45pm

Keynote speakers: Christine Göttler (Universität Bern), Ivano Dal Prete (Yale University), Frances E. Dolan (University of California at Davis).

Human life is closely dependent on soil, both for its capacity to produce food and for its geo-political connotations. It is no wonder that soil fertility has been at the centre of human thought from the mythical Golden Age and the fruitful gardens of Homer’s Odyssey to the furrows of the Biblical plough, and to the long-lasting doctrine of the four elements. The need to improve the quality of the soil reached a pinnacle in the second half of the sixteenth century, resulting in a boom in printed publications on estate management. Contemporaneous interventions into the environment (both within the surrounding countryside and colonial landscapes) gave rise to a novel consciousness of the empirical ability of people to transform the land, and therefore nature itself.

“Fertile Furrows” showcases multifaceted and broadly geographical perspectives on ideas, uses, and representations of soils in the Early Modern period. The conference addresses the topic from a variety of methodologies and disciplines, including history of art and architecture, history of science and technology, indigenous history, ecohistory, cultural and intellectual history, politico-economic history, and literature.

Event organised by Anca-Delia Moldovan (Warburg Institute).

Programme (as at 26 June 2023)