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The Renaissance of the Earth

The Renaissance of the Earth is a series of themed research collaborations, undergraduate and graduate courses, integrative learning workshops, conferences, keynotes, and public-facing arts programming that consider how early modern habits of thought and practice might aid in imagining alternative forms of habitation and cultivation of the earth.


Artist in Residence
June 18 - September 30, 2022 | Mapping Terroir: Memory & Myth
Andrea Caluori – Inside UMass News Story here & Daily Hampshire Gazette Feature here




Folger Institute: Introduction to English Paleography

This weeklong course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on the English secretary hand of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The course will highlight the strengths of our rare book collection and materials related to The Renaissance of the Earth. This program will be offered May 23-27, 2022. For more information, click here.
Course Director: Dr. Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts and Archivist, Folger Shakespeare Library


Grounded Knowledge: Workshop Series
Grounded Knowledge is inspired by the desire to link hands-on practice with literary and historical knowledge production. Workshops bring together local artists, farmers, herbalists, and chefs with students and scholars to explore connections between our gardens and rare book collection, including: agricultural treatises, gardening manuals, early modern literature, and early earth science writing. Upcoming workshops include a focus on: 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.

September 24, 2022: Terroir
Andrea Caluori, Artist in Residence and Dr. Elsa Petit, Stockbridge School of Agriculture, UMass

October 17, 2020: Preservation (Virtual Workshop)
Matt Kaminsky, Gnarly  Pippins and Dr. Marissa Nicosia, Cooking in the Archives 

August 1, 2020: Bees, Pollination, & Honey (Virtual Workshop)
Jade Alicandro Mace, Milk & Honey Herbs and Dr. Haylie Swenson, Folger Shakespeare Library. — Inside UMass News Story here

Dirty Research
This project, funded through a University Sustainability, Innovation, and Engagement Fund Grant, reinvents the Renaissance Kitchen Garden and Apple Orchards, transforming them into a hub for researchers, students, and community members. The project provides especially rich pedagogical and research opportunities that encourage visitors to consider the connections between our gardens and the strengths of our rare book collection, including: agricultural treatises, gardening manuals, early modern literature, and early earth science writing.
Project Director: Liz Fox, PhD — Inside UMass News Story here

Renaissance Kitchen Garden and Apple Orchard
The Center’s grounds include a historically-authentic kitchen garden that provides rich opportunities for interdisciplinary research and experiential learning endeavors. 

Renaissance of the Earth Undergraduate Fellowships and Workstudy Positions
We accept applications for Undergraduate Fellows annually and Workstudy runs throughout the academic year.

Environmental Leadership
A team of undergraduate researchers enrolled in Intro to Natural Research Conservation identified species of plants growing on the Center's land.

Course Offerings
The Renaissance of the Earth. Professor Marjorie Rubright. Spring 2020. (Graduate Seminar ENG891)
This seminar stages a 'collision laboratory' between literatures of the earth produced by Renaissance writers (1450 – 1750) and current popular, artistic, literary and scientific writings about the Anthropocene. It has two aims: first, to explore how seemingly current conversations regarding environmental disaster, sustainability, and resilience traffic in ideas, metaphors, and modes of thinking whose roots extend into the Renaissance; and, second, to consider how early modern habits of thought and practice might not only resemble the present but influence it, aiding in our challenge of imagining alternative forms of habitation and cultivation of the earth.

Vibrant Matter: Material Culture and Early Modern English Drama. Professor Adam Zucker. Fall 2020 (Graduate Seminar ENG891)

This course is a research-intensive seminar focused on current scholarship on the representation, use, and history of material culture in the drama of Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and their contemporaries. As we read a wide variety of canonical and not very canonical plays, we will consider questions that have organized the past 20 years of scholarship on ‘object’ studies: Why and how do objects and material spaces shape relations between subjects, and in what sense might objects and spaces be forceful agents in their own right? How do questions of environment, ecology, and global epistemology change when materiality is centered within them? How does the theatrical performance of human embodiment in particular (in its spatial and narrative forms) deal with or enact these questions? How might we balance historical research and presentist critique and rhetoric?

On Topic: Conversations in the Field
"Plant Blindness" with Vin Nardizzi, English, University of British Columbia. April 14, 2020

The Players Project 
Noah Tuleja, Director of the Mount Holyoke Rooke Theater, is in residence with a small cross-campus company of actors whose home is the Kinney Center and its outdoor stage. In conjunction with The Renaissance of the Earth, The Players Project launched its first season of workshops with a reading of “The Herbal Bed” by Peter Whelan.


Rare book collection
By collecting in targeted fields (natural history, agricultural history, botanicals, early earth science, cosmographies, and literature of the earth), the collection drives research in ways that link the research, educational, and creative programming on offer at the Center. 


Eco-Entanglements: Ruin, Grafting, Stratification 920-2020 
The 2020 graduate conference showcased both the historical and methodological ambitions of The Renaissance of the Earth program, drawing together scholars working from Old English studies to Early Modern Studies for a one-day conference organized around three modes of eco-entanglement (ruin, grafting, stratification).