Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Anne Harris Lecture Response


Anne Harris, a Medievalist, presented her work in Entangled Ecologies: Community, Identity, and the Modern Future of the Medieval Past in the Wriston Auditorium. She describes these entangled ecologies as “…scenarios in which the past surged into the present through an ecological phenomenon…” (Anne Harris). She further divides her studies into three fields; Anthropogenic Biomes, Quantum Entanglements, and Hewn Ecology.
The first field, anthropogenic, or human influenced, biomes, in which sustained human interaction has shaped a biome, or changed it into an entirely different environment. The example Harris explored in her presentation was Monteneuf in Western Britney, a Neolithic stone arrangement, made up of about 420 stones. This struck me as an interesting example, which explores a cyclical model of human interaction with an ecosystem, as the stones were raised, put down in an attempt to destroy them, and raised again by archeologists.
The second area her work relates to is quantum entanglements, dealing with the way time effects artifacts and their states. Harris used wood cross from Scotland to explain how from one state to another the meaning of an artifact shifts, in this case from tree, to wood, to cross. That change was incorporated into the meaning of the cross deliberately by its makes.

The final area Harris studies is hewn ecology, or the understanding that in environments and ecosystems, change is natural and inevitable. This is an especially difficult concept to grasp for most people, as modern society is based around the perceived current state, and cannot except such a fluid world view. The example used in the presentation was an inscription of the biblical story of Seth’s return to Eden, and the cycle contained in it. She believes that liberal arts colleges are an allegory for the same state of flux, and students constantly move from through the established grades and states of being contained within a college.

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