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Languages of Ecology: Ancient and Early Modern Approaches to Nature

Colloquium at the Getty Research Institute
Getty Research Institute & Volkswagen Foundation
March 18, 2020 | Museum Lecture Hall
Organized by Jesús Muñoz Morcillo, GRI Volkswagen Foundation Fellow

Languages of Ecology: Ancient and Early Modern Approaches to Nature focuses on the origins, variety, and transformations of notions of ecology in antiquity and the early modern period.

The colloquium aims to initiate an interdisciplinar debate about epistemic and literary-based image production that led to popular, symbolic, and new scientific notions of ecology. Studies into the foundations and traditions of environmental thinking and ancient experiences of nature, including eco-critical attitudes, enable a better understanding of the different languages of ecology that emerged and co-existed during the early modern period and beyond.

Artists and humanists from different fields of knowledge, including anatomists, botanists, garden designers, mineralogists, and even authors of emblem books contributed to the development of a visual culture that built on multisensory experiences as well as the rhetorical evidence of vivid descriptions, natural philosophy, and environmental thinking from ancient times. The colloquium’s speakers will discuss and question ancient ways of approaching and conceptualizing nature, the reception and transformation of different, sometimes even opposing, “ecologies,” as well as the educational and moral dimensions of description and imitation of nature. This multi-layered dialogue conducted by experts in the fields of Classics, Renaissance Studies, and Art History will throw light on the complex relationship between the ancient polyvalent notion of nature and visual responses from the early modern period.

Program here.


(Photo: "Empty Boardroom" by Reynermedia, licensed under CC BY 2.0)