The Spiritual Life of Plants

cvj sowing seedsGiven all the gardening I’ve been doing over the last week or so (there’s some seed-sowing action going on to the right – more later), it may be fitting to go and sit and participate in the event coming up today. It is another of the College Commons events I’ve been mentioning here.

It’ll be a round table discussion and workshop to kick off a series, and here’s the summary:

“The Spiritual Life of Plants” series, arranged by Natania Meeker and Antónia Szabari of French and comparative literature, aims to reunite urgent contemporary conversations around ecology and the built environment with an early modern past — a past in which plants existed both at the limits of being and at the frontier of new forms of knowledge. What might these animated plants have to tell us about the ways in which humans experience, regulate, and are transformed by the non-human beings that surround them? How can we carry these conversations forward into the present and the future?

Today’s round table:

Faculty, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates from across USC are invited to join us for a stimulating conversation around the questions that compel our focus in plantlife: where does the boundary between plants and human beings lie, and what are the social effects of this boundary’s placement? What do plants have to tell us, and how can we read their language?

They’ve even given us a short reading list of things to look at as preparation, with extracts from:

Francis Bacon’s The New Atlantis, La Mettrie’s Man A Plant, Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things, and François Delaporte’s Nature’s Second Kingdom.

(If you are interested in the themes explored in some of these books – and presumably in the conversation – I’d also recommend “The Botany of Desire”, one of Michael Pollan’s finest books.)

You can find out more about the entire series on the website of the Department of French and Italian, here.

I think this will be rather interesting and fun, and I’m going to go along and participate.


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2 Responses to The Spiritual Life of Plants

  1. Adam says:

    hey professor, it was good to see you at this event today. just wanted to make sure that you know i don’t think blogs including ‘everyday life’ aspects are inane…in fact, they can be profoundly interesting. it’s the travel-type “i saw the eiffel tower” blogs that i find don’t really contribute to the people-learning-things, web-dialogue aspect of the blogosphere. but of course people blog for all number of reasons, not only those that i like.

    hope to see you around

  2. Clifford says:

    Hey Adam,

    It was really great to see you. I actually was recently wondering how you were doing, so it was a pleasant surprise to see you there. Fun and interesting conversation, wasn’t it? And thanks for the book recommendation… Yes… there’s a wider variety of blog types. I hope yours goes well!