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30 March-2 April 2022. Renaissance Society of America Conference. Program details.

Renaissance Society of American Conference

Organized by Making Green Worlds: Early Modern Art and Ecologies of Globalization & co-sponsored by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant

Making Green Worlds


How did the global escalation of environmental devastation generate the creation of green worlds in the early modern period? Invoking Harry Berger Jr., this panel takes up questions raised by ecocritical studies and growing interest in the real and imaginary green worlds of early modernity. Green worlds are created by practices like gardening, town planning, agriculture, and land reclamation; they are also fabricated in the fictive worlds of painting, performance, theatre, and poetry. These human-made environments are conceived as second worlds, controlled spaces that exist alongside the natural world and vie with nature itself in fashioning an artfully designed setting. The focus will be on the role of visual imagery that advances new understandings of the world as humanmade. The approach pays attention to constant, on-going creative processes of engagement with the earth to foreground critical and imaginative elements of worldmaking processes that occurred in tandem with a notable escalation in environmental devastation unleashed by globalization’s exploitation of people and resources.


Making Green Worlds builds on the collaborative research project, Making Worlds: Art, Materiality, Early Modern Globalization.

Organized by Angela Vanhaelen ( and Bronwen Wilson—Discipline Rep for Art History (


Jan Luyken, Het Planten van Bomen, 1660-1712. Pen and Paper. 

© Rijksmuseum.


Possibly designed by Jean Cousin the Elder, The Drowning of Britomartis from Scenes from the Story of Diana, 1547-59. Wool, silk.  

© Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Shores, Coastlines, and Horizons


In Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, Elizabeth Rush describes “a new form of climate anxiety” called “endsickness” while kayaking along the coast of the Gulf of Maine. “Like motion sickness or sea sickness,” Rush writes, “endsickness is its own kind of vertigo” a response to a “world moving in unusual ways, toward...a kind of event horizon.”

While the effects of sea-level rise are integral to current discussions of climate change, early moderns, importantly, were engaged in multiple efforts to manage and contain a tenuous coastal relationship between land and sea. These efforts frequently relied on newly made, often inexact, cartographic maps that drew from measurements between stars, planets, and the horizon.

This panel forms part of “Earth, Sea, Sky” (ESS), an international research network collaborating with, and under the umbrella of, Oecologies. ESS fosters new international dialogue in studies of medieval and early modern literature and visual culture. Its central aim is to examine the varied and contested premodern approaches to the natural world, as well as how this premodern archive resonates with contemporary concerns around environmental degradation and global warming.

Organized by Tom White (, Tiffany Jo Werth (, and Bronwen Wilson—Discipline Rep for Art History (

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