On Saturday, Aug. 1, the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies hosted the first in a series of workshops that bring together local artists, farmers, herbalists and chefs with students and scholars to explore connections between the Renaissance Center’s kitchen gardens, apple orchard and rare book collection, which includes agricultural treatises, gardening manuals, early modern literature, and early earth science writing. Titled Grounded Knowledge, the workshop series kicked off with a virtual workshop focused on bees. It was co-lead by Jade Alicandro Mace of Milk and Honey Herbs and Haylie Swenson from the Folger Shakespeare Library.
This workshop offered light readings, simple recipes and a conversation about bees, hives and honey production venturing across gardens, books, and art—past, present, and future. It brought together fifteen participants, including beekeepers, herbalists, scholars, librarians, historians, artists and others.
Upcoming Grounded Knowledge workshops will cover topics including seed stories in global landscapes, women’s production of herbal remedies and medical knowledge, fermented fruits and cider making, and distillation: pigments, perfumes, and syrups. Future workshops will be hosted at 1 p.m. on the first Saturdays of October, December, March and May.
Grounded Knowledge is part of the Renaissance Center’s five-year “The Renaissance of the Earth” initiative, which incorporates themed research collaborations, undergraduate and graduate courses, integrative learning workshops, conferences, keynotes, and public-facing arts programming to consider how early modern habits of thought and practice might aid in imagining alternative forms of habitation and cultivation of the earth.
“Environmental humanities is, and will remain, a central driver for both interdisciplinary and transhistorical research in the decades ahead,” says associate professor of English Marjorie Rubright, director of the Renaissance Center. She explains that, “both humanists and earth scientists contend that the rise of globalization in the Renaissance (which entailed the extraction and transportation of natural resources and the forced migrations of human beings around the globe) marks the dawn of our geological epoch, the Anthropocene.” Rubright claims that, “scholars of the premodern world have been at the vanguard of environmental history and eco-criticism in the humanities, exploring how present-day conversations regarding environmental disaster, sustainability, and resilience traffic in ideas, metaphors, and modes of thinking whose roots extend into the Renaissance.” “The mission of The Renaissance of the Earth is to go further,” she says, by, “organizing collaborative research across interdisciplinary scholarly communities and the public to consider how early modern habits of thought and practice might aid in imagining alternative forms of habitation and cultivation of the earth.”
For more information on Grounded Knowledge and The Renaissance of the Earth, including information on how to enroll in future workshops, visit the Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies website.