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Converting Natural Resources: Representations, Performances, Narratives

Organized by Elisa Antonietta Daniele, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles/University of Bologna, and Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles 

Co-sponsored by Making Green Worlds, Social Sciences and Humanities Resource Council of Canada, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant, and the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program

December 1-2, 2023

UCLA Williams Andrew Clark Memorial Library 


Program Schedule 

Friday, December 1, 2023


9:00 a.m.        Introduction

                         Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles, and Elisa Antonietta Daniele, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow,                           University of California, Los Angeles/University of Bologna

9:15 a.m.        Session 1: Consumption

                         Chair: Bronwen Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles

                         Marissa Nicosia, The Pennsylvania State University - Abington College 

                         "Recipes for Commodities: Seasoning Natural Resources in Renaissance England"

9:45 a.m.         Taylor Clement, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

                          “’The Profitable Arte’: Commodifying the English Garden”

10:15 a.m.      Discussion

10:45 a.m.      Coffee Break

11:15 a.m.     Session 2: Ligneous Conversions

                        Chair: Victoria Addona, Université de Montréal

                        Shannon Kelley, Fairfield University
                        “Coloniality, Race, and Pine Trees”

11:45 a.m.     James Clifton, Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
                        “’Welcome to the world of glamorous woods!’: On the Commodification of Wood for the European Market in the                                  16th to 18th Centuries”

12:15 p.m.    Matthew Gin, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
                       “Producing Pageantry: An Audit of Materials and Processes in a Parisian Warehouse, c. 1753”

12:45 p.m.    Discussion

1:15 p.m.       Lunch

2:30 p.m.       Session 3: Submersion

                        Chair: Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine

                        Bernadette Meyers, New York University

                        "Coalface: Embodying Air Pollution in Early Modern Performance Culture"

3:00 p.m.       Kevin Dawson, University of California, Merced

                        "Waterscapes and Wet Bodies: Beach Culture in Atlantic Africa and the Diaspora, 1444-1888"

3:30 p.m.       Discussion

4:00 p.m.       Coffee Break

4:15 p.m.       Session 4: Suppression

                        Chair: Stephanie Schrader, Getty Center

                        Caroline Fowler, The Clark Art Institute

                        "Rethinking Erasure in Frans Post's Landscapes"

4:45 p.m.        Angela Vanhaelen, McGill University

                         "Oppositional Modalities of Being: Woman on a Beach in colonial Dutch Brazil" 

5:15 p.m.        Discussion

6:00 p.m.        Conclusion

Saturday, December 2, 2023

9:00 a.m.       Session 5: Making Territories

                        Chair: Elisa Antonietta Daniele, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles/University of                                Bologna

                        Sonia Cavicchioli, University of Bologna

                        "'Nos Mutina effinxit': Terracotta and the Shape of Territory in Northern Italy (1400-1800)"

9:30 a.m.       Cambra Sklarz, University of California, Riverside 

                        "The Artist in the Community: Art, Materials, and Domestic Labor in Early America"

10:00 a.m.      Discussion

10:30 a.m.      Coffee Break

11:00 a.m.     Session 6: Unearthly Conversions

                        Chair: Rachel Weiss, University of California, Los Angeles

                        Carrie Anderson, Middlebury College 

                        "Beads, Adornment, and Commodification in the Dutch Atlantic World"

11:30 a.m.     Caroline LaPorte-Burns, McGill University

                        "Up in a Puff of Smoke: A Salvaged Mother-of-Pearl Snuffbox and the Lessons of Shipwrecks for Early Modern Art 


12:00 p.m.     Sylvia Tongyan Qui, University of California, Los Angeles,

                        "Out of the Water, Into the Sky: A Pearl-Inlaid Celestial Globe and the Limits of the Qing Cosmos" 

12:30 p.m.     Discussion

1:15 p.m.       Conclusion 



Image Credit:

Karel van Mallery after Jan van der Straet, The Introduction of the Silkworm, engraving, c. 1595. (public domain)

36th CIHA Congress, Lyon, France, June 2024

Making Green Worlds (ca. 1492-1700)


This session contributes to current debates about climate change that are at the forefront of public and academic discourse by re-assessing the intersections of global mobility, environmental change, and artistic invention before the advent of the modern era. It investigates how the global escalation of environmental degradation generated the creation of green worlds in the early modern period (ca. 1492-1700). Papers will explore aspects of the real and imaginary green worlds of early modernity. Green worlds are human-made environments. They are created by practices like gardening, engineering, agriculture, deforestation, and land reclamation; they are also fabricated in the fictive worlds of painting, performance, theatre, and poetry. A green world is a second world; it is a controlled space that transforms matter and thus vies with nature in shaping artfully designed settings. The focus of the session will be on the role of visual imagery, built environments, and material artefacts that advance new understandings of the world as a human-made invention. We aim to take up questions raised by ecocritical and anti-colonial approaches to art and art history and to be particularly attentive to the power dynamics that occur in various modes of engagement with matter and materiality. We are especially interested in exploring the tension between the creation and destruction of green worlds. We encourage papers that foreground the social justice issues raised by worldmaking processes. Of importance is how early modern worldmaking occurred in tandem with the human and environmental devastation unleashed by increasing global mobility, which facilitated the brutal exploitation and extermination of people and natural resources worldwide.

Topics include:

  • transcultural spaces: gardens, plantations, ports, markets, coastal areas, ships, menageries, curiosity collections, utopias, etc.

  • resource extraction: mining, quarrying, fishing, logging, hunting, monocropping

  • labour: practices of enslavement and exploitation, colonialism and anticolonialism, patronage systems, resistance and rebellion

  • Indigenous knowledges and lifeways

  • visual and material forms that embody, employ, or contribute to transformation, degradation and/or renewal

  • natural phenomena that challenge human experience: mountains, waterfalls, ice, caves, storms, forests, rainbows, earthquakes, etc.

  • tools, processes, and systems of managing, transforming, collecting, and classifying artifacts, materials, animals, plants, and natural curiosities

  • environmental and elemental iconographies

  • ecosystems and transplantings: people, animals, insects, birds, trees, plants, waters, minerals, soil, etc.

Faculty and Graduate Student Associates during a tour of the Grunwald Center Collection at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 28 April 2017.



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