Dead bodies have been health hazards, toxic waste, and compost for the garden, sometimes all at the same time. They have been obstacles to development, and major tourist draws; they have been both an integral part of nature and also entirely apart from it. Twentieth-century bodies and their accumulations of mercury, titanium, silicon, and plutonium, can be quite toxic, but even the early American dead had complicated relationships with their environments. In this talk, Ellen Stroud argues that understanding the history of American landscapes, environments, and ideas about nature requires spending time with bodies of the American dead.
Ellen Stroud is an Associate Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University and specializes in U.S. Urban and Environmental history. Her first book, Nature Next Door: Cities and Trees in the American Northeast looks at the ways in which the twentieth-century growth of cities in the northeastern U.S. fostered the return of forests to the region. Her current project, Dead as Dirt: An Environmental History of the Dead Body looks at the ways in which corpses and corpse disposal practices have shaped American landscapes and ideas about nature. Her research on this project was supported by a membership in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her other publications include articles in Environmental History, History and Theory, and the Radical History Review.
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Series Funders and Co-Sponsors: UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), UF Smathers Libraries, UF Office of Research, School of Art + Art History's Harn Eminent Scholar Lecture Series, UF International Center, UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, UF Department of History, UF Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, UF Center for Latin American Studies, UF Department of Religion, Alachua County Library District, UF College of Veterinary Medicine, UF Digital Worlds Institute, UF Honors Program.
For an overview of Death: Confronting the Great Divide, click here.
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611