ICEHO & the next World Congress of EH

The International Consortium of Environmental History Organizations (ICEHO) has now been founded. The aim of ICEHO is to bring together large and small organisations around the world working within the subject area to collaborate, facilitate disciplinary and interdisciplinary communication, create synergy and networks, hold workshops, share teaching and research agendas and to promote the discipline wherever possible.

ICEHO has planned a second World Congress of Environmental History for the last week of July 2014. This will be hosted in the cultural capital of Europe 2012, the beautiful northern Portuguese town of Guimarães. The conference is co-hosted by the University of Minho and the International School Congress/International Workshop on Environmental History group (ISC/IWCH). Calls for papers will be distributed early in 2012.

ENFORMA is one of the organizational members of ICEHO. Dolly Jørgensen, who has been representing ENFORMA, was made Secretary of ICEHO at its meeting in Turku during the recent ESEH meeting. ENFORMA is thus positioned to make a vital contribution to the direction of ICEHO.

Because ICEHO membership costs $100 a year, we passed around the hat at the last Kalamazoo meeting and made enough to cover ENFORMA’s membership for 2011. We will be doing the same at the 2012 Kalamazoo meeting and ask for your generous support.

ENFORMA sessions at Kzoo 2012

ENFORMA is pleased to announce that three environmental history sessions for the 2012 International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo have been approved.

Two of these (Medieval Environments I-II) will be traditional paper sessions, providing a forum for the presentation of individual papers and the sharing of current research projects. This is a forum for new directions and new results; Congress authorities rightly expect that papers be essentially original and not repetitions of work already published elsewhere. Experience teaches that the most effective papers are solid expositions of work in progress, where presenters can get useful feedback from an engaged and broadly-informed audience.

The third session will be a roundtable discussion on incorporating environmental history in the medieval studies classroom. We hope to assemble a panel of 4-5 people to discuss their classroom experiences. Once the participants are established, we will plan the roundtable jointly. We are looking for both people who can address teaching specialized courses in medieval environmental history and people who can speak to the ways that environmental topics can be incorporated into general medieval surveys, through single day lesson plans or readings.

Ellen Arnold is organizing the sessions. Formal proposals must include an abstract of no more than 300 words and a completed Participant Information Form, which must also include your AV requirements. These forms are essential, as if we receive more proposals than we have space for, they will be forwarded for inclusion in the general program. The forms are now available on the congress website.

Proposals and PIFs need to be sent directly to Ellen Arnold by 15 September 2011.

We have no funds to help with travel or other expenses. The Kalamazoo Congress has very limited resources to help participants from outside North America. For information on travel awards, see:

Kalamazoo 2011 & 2012

Although this is an off-year for our environmental sessions at Kalamazoo, this year nonetheless features several papers on environmental topics, and the MARS group (Medieval Association for Rural Studies) has organized sessions on “Gardens and Gardening” and the “Archaeology of Landscape.” This year’s Congress is from May 12-15. See for more information.

We will be proposing a series of environmental sessions for Kalamazoo 2012. We will be proposing at least one pedagogy session, and people interested in this should share ideas for how that might be shaped. We welcome any scholars researching environmental aspects of the medieval world.  We encourage you to submit your own projects or encourage other colleagues or students to join our group.  Please feel free to pass this information along to others. This is a forum for new directions and new results, and we always welcome new people. Congress authorities rightly expect that papers be essentially original and not repetitions of work already published elsewhere. Experience teaches that the most effective papers are solid expositions of work in progress, where presenters can get useful feedback from an engaged and broadly-informed audience. Contact Ellen Arnold ( if you would like to participate in one of the environmental sessions.

Medieval weather and the natural order session

Call For Papers: Medieval Weather and the Natural Order
New Chaucer Society Congress, Portland OR July 23-26, 2012

Organizer: Robert Stanton
Paul Dutton has written that “‘weather’ is properly historical and stubbornly
subjective, since it involves humans in time thinking about it and how it
affects their lives.” How were meteorological phenomena in the late Middle Ages
observed, described, and interpreted? Recent work in ecocriticism has signaled
the endlessly fluid and negotiable character of nature; can we reconfigure the
notion of “natural phenomena” as a negotiated interaction among divine, human,
and physical orders? Submissions to this panel might address the reception of
storms, floods, earthquakes, or droughts across genres; a comparison of
representations of weather in textual and visual sources; or the relationship
between generalized and archetypal descriptions of weather events and their
strategic deployment as narrative and rhetorical elements.

Please send a one-paragraph abstract by June 1, 2011 to Robert Stanton,
Department of English, Boston College

ESEH Summer School 2011

The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society and the European Society for Environmental History will hold its second summer school for doctoral students from 20–25 June 2011,  in Italy at the Centro Tedesco di Studi Veneziani (Palazzo Barbarigo della Terrazza) in Venice. The topic of this summer school will be “Water–Culture–Politics: Perspectives in Environmental History.” Mentors will include Donald Worster (USA), Stefania Barca (Portugal), and Dolly Jorgensen (Sweden).

Deadline for applications is 20 February 2011.

For more information, please click here (pdf, 19 KB).

ASEH 2011 Medieval Papers

The American Society for Environmental History (ASEH) meeting in April 2011 (see includes several papers of interest for medieval environmental historians:

Panel 2-A: Abigail Schade, Columbia University, Reading medieval water knowledge forward? Reading into al-Karaji’s 11th century instruction manual for Extraction of Hidden Waters

Panel 5-C: The European Experience with Sustainable Practices in the Late Middle Ages includes the following papers:

  • Richard Hoffmann, York University, Reassessing ‘Ecological crisis in fourteenth century Europe’
  • Tim Sistrunk, California State University-Chico, Defining sustainable practice in late medieval law
  • Richard Keyser, Western Kentucky University, The keys to sustainability in premodern European woodlands
  • Kimberley Kinder, University of California-Berkeley, A warmer, wetter world: Adapting to climate change in the Netherlands

Panel 6-C: Philip Slavin, Yale University, Between ecology and war: the fourteenth-century crisis in the British Isles

Kalamazoo 2010 Summary

Ellen Arnold, one of the co-organizers of the Kalamazoo 2010 gathering, has written up the following summary from the conference:

In May, scholars from across the disciplines, including many of the members of ENFORMA gathered at the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo.  It was a very successful meeting, with five sessions and 14 papers, and on behalf of Richard Hoffmann and myself, I would like to thank the speakers and our chairs for their hard work, engaging projects, and their participation throughout the conference. Topics and methodologies ranged across the field, truly highlighting how integrative and interdisciplinary medieval environmental history has become. There were papers on how resources were used and how that use was structured: sanitation systems in England, mills in France, hunting regimes in Italy, and timber resources in Scotland. Others addressed bigger patterns of environmental interaction across time and space, including monastic manipulation of landscapes, the possible links between climate and crusades, and settlement patterns. This year, many participants were also discussing medieval ideas and knowledge—about soil structure, fish, religion, and concepts of the landscape as being part of identity.

The sources used were equally diverse, including archival sources, scientific treatises, maps, charters, dispute settlements, poetry, and epic literature. We also saw ample proof of how many different approaches are available, from archaeology, zooarchaeology, and climate sciences to textual criticism, archival research and literary analysis (and the combination of many of these, for example to determine patterns of early medieval animal disease). We welcomed familiar faces and many new colleagues to these sessions, both as participants and in the audience, and we hope that this broader community continues to grow and to provide opportunities for collaboration and for sharing new research. Look for us again in two years!

Abstracts of the papers are available for download: ENFORMA_Sessions_Kzoo_2010

ASEH 2011 warfare panel

Dagomar Degroot, a PhD candidate in environmental history at York University, Toronto, Canada, is working with David Hsiung to develop a panel proposal on the relationship between pre-industrial warfare and environment for the 2011 ASEH conference in Phoenix,  April 12-16.  As the panel presently stands, Dagomar’s  paper would uncover links between the fluctuating climatic history of the 17th century and contemporary Dutch warfare, while David would trace energy flows during the American Revolution. They need a third panelist.

Interested colleagues can reach Dagomar  by email at  The deadline for proposals is June 30, 2010.