Call for Chapters – Romantic Trees: The Literary Arboretum, 1740-1840

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Edited by Anna Burton and Amanda Blake Davis (University of Derby)

Collection Prospectus:

Romantic Trees: The Literary Arboretum, 1740-1840 will explore literary responses to a range of individual trees and tree species and the network of international contexts within which they were viewed. The Romantic-period focus of this edited collection will culminate in 1840 with the opening of the first public arboretum, Derby Arboretum. The arboretum, though a man-made space that groups trees formally, is also an environment in which more can be understood about the biodiversity and individuality of all trees on an interconnected, global scale. Grounded in the literature of the Romantic period, this project proposes that the ‘arboretum’, a term coined by John Claudius Loudon in 1838, is implicit within Romantic writers’ interest in specific trees. Rather than concentrating on an author-specific and/or particular thematic approach, our ‘arboretum’ will form a collection of essays, each one focusing on the significance and cultural history of a particular tree species, during this period.

Whilst the Romantic ideation of ‘Nature’ is a heavily traversed, broad-ranging topic, the arboreal lens of The Literary Arboretum will offer a new way of thinking about Romanticism and nature specifically through literary responses to trees in literature of the Romantic period (c.1740-1840). This collection will build upon existing studies that explore the significance of particular tree specimens for notable Romantic writers; see, for example, Tim Fulford’s study of William Wordsworth’s ‘Yew-trees’ (1995), Fiona Stafford’s analysis of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘Only Tree’, the Birch (2021), Frederike Middelhoff’s study of ‘Romantic poplar writing’ (2022), and Peter Dale and Brandon C. Yen’s attention to Wordsworth’s trees (2022). In response to landmark works on arboreal ecology by Suzanne Simard and Peter Wohlleben (2021, 2016), much of the current scholarship in the newly burgeoning field of the arboreal humanities values the community and interconnectedness of trees. This collection will foster such a perspective in the field of Romantic Studies by thinking about arboreal biodiversity and individuality in the Romantic imagination through the ‘literary arboretum’.

Details and timeline of the call:

We invite chapters on individual tree species that are non-native to the British Isles, and we also invite conceptual chapters that address Romantic trees beyond a single identifiable species. We are keen to include chapters by BIPOC authors; postgraduate and early researchers; and chapters that address Global Romantic texts and themes. We welcome interested authors to get in touch with any questions.

As a first step, we welcome abstracts of 200 words. We will be pleased to receive your abstracts by 29 April 2024. Shortly thereafter, we will be able to let you know, based on the abstract, whether your essay has been selected for inclusion. First drafts of complete essays of 6000-7000 words, including notes and references, will be due 27th January 2025. 

Abstracts should be emailed to the editors: Anna Burton (a.burton@derby.ac.uk) and Amanda Blake Davis (a.davis2@derby.ac.uk).