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Event | 23 March-24 March 10:30-15:00

Conference: Jesuits and the Natural World

Key Details

Harold Lee Room, Pembroke College
Transdisciplinary Research

A two-day conference drawing together and critically reflecting on knowledge about Jesuit perspectives on the natural world from a wide diversity of disciplines, assessing its ongoing relevance for today.

With their worldwide reach and efficient channels of reporting and correspondence, the early modern Jesuits were uniquely placed to think about nature, botany, weather and what would come to be called human ecology, in a wider context than any group before them. Markus Friedrich's recent study of the Jesuits calls for new attention to them as a unified and understudied force in early modern intellectual history, almost as if they were a small nation in themselves.  Intense focus on place and on the "signs" to be read in the world are a foundation of Ignatian thought and meditation, and these ideas bear fruit in many centuries and in many forms: botany, meteorology, geology, museum practise, and symbolic and spiritual readings of places, gardens and plants.  After the suppression and restoration of the Society, these ideas continued to resonate. For example, Romantic apprehension of landscape has roots in optics and in Jesuit "composition of place": Hopkins's intense awareness of the natural world has Jesuit as much as romantic roots.  

As well as drawing together expert papers in diverse disciplines, this conference will showcase artefacts from the rich collections of Stonyhurst College and the British Jesuit Province through a pop-up exhibition held at Campion Hall.