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A view of Portage, Wisconsin.

Time, Memory and Storytelling in the Making of Place

We’re delighted to announce that Professor William Cronon will visit the Penryn Campus to present a public lecture on Wednesday July 1, an event organised in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Arts and Humanities (CEAH).

Professor Cronon is an environmental historian and Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research seeks to understand the history of human interactions with the natural world: how we depend on the ecosystems around us to sustain our material lives, how we modify the landscapes in which we live and work, and how our ideas of nature shape our relationships with the world around us.

In a lecture based on the opening chapter of the book he is writing on the history of Portage, Wisconsin, Professor Cronon will meditate on the role of memory and storytelling in the complicated ways human beings construct their individual and collective sense of place.  A natural ecosystem or an abstract geographical space becomes a human place, he will argue, through the endless accretion of narratives that render that place meaningful for those who visit or live in it.  Portage is an especially interesting community in which to explore this idea, since it was the home town of Frederick Jackson Turner, the American historian who authored the famous "frontier thesis."  It was also the town into whose hinterland John Muir migrated as an eleven-year-old boy from Scotland, and the town where Aldo Leopold's "Shack," famed subject of the book 'A Sand County Almanac', is located. 

This event here not only represents a coup for the Penryn Campus – in view of Professor Cronon’s eminence and the demands on his time –  it also highlights campus’s reputation for innovative, interdisciplinary research. Following his lecture Professor Cronon will take part in a research seminar with members of CEAH and invited guests. CEAH, founded in 2013, brings together researchers from a range of disciplines who share an interest in the relationship between the environment and the human imagination.

The lecture, "The Portage: Time, Memory, and Storytelling in the Making of an American Place", will be held at 1pm on Wednesday, 1 July, in the Exchange ‘Yellow’ Seminar Room on the Penryn Campus. In addition to the ESI, Professor Cronon’s visit is supported by the International Office and the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.  If you have any questions, please contact Caitlin DeSilvey.

Date: 17 June 2015