Politics and Narrative in the Literature and Culture of Gardens
“Plotting the Garden” is a two-day conference at the University of Florida that explores the intersection of gardens as physical plots of land cultivated for a purpose; as narrative plots that tell a story; and as political plots that convey identity, power, and even intrigue. We seek to mobilize what George McKay calls “horticultural politics” (Radical Gardening: Politics, Idealism and Rebellion in the Garden, London 2011, p. 6). With their characteristic earthly practice and pleasure, gardens are also sites of ideological struggle; gardens are linked, for better or worse, to war, climate change, nationality, gender, and the intersections of identity.
Speakers from across the United States gather to consider garden plots in texts and images from across historical periods and geographic settings: Herod’s Roman gardens in ancient Judea; the agricultural treatise by the Roman senator Varro; gardens in early Valois-France; Wordsworth’s poetry; Virginia Woolf’s short story “Kew Gardens” and its integral illustrations; Marie Menken’s short film, “Glimpse of the Garden;” and traditional African American gardens of the South.
The conference is book-ended by keynote speakers who provide contexts for understanding the politics of garden plots in ancient Rome and in early 20th century America.
The centerpiece of our conference is a guided tour of the Therapeutic Horticulture Program at Wilmot Gardens at the University of Florida, for a first-hand experience of the power of garden theory and practice to shape and even change our perceptions of the world.
Events are free and open to the public.
Questions regarding the conference may be directed to email@example.com.