Plant Encounters is a workshop that brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars who approach plants as sites for charting new methodologies, framing new narratives, and theorizing nonhuman agencies. This workshop devotes attention to current scholarly inquiry into plants across the disciplines of anthropology, science & technology studies, English literature, history, sociology, visual art, and cinema studies.  Our collaborative efforts are animated by the following key questions.  What analytical strategies can be employed to engage with plants?  How can these modes of engagement chart new ethical, political, social, intellectual, and/or aesthetic directions to orient ourselves to becomings with the world?

This workshop will take place from May 2nd to May 3rd 2011 at the University of Toronto.  It is a project affiliated with Dr. Michelle Murphy’s Technoscience Research Unit and sponsored by the University of Toronto’s New College.

For information about this workshop, please contact Carla Hustak at


Workshop Schedule

Monday May 2nd

I.  Plotting Encounter:  Navigating Exchanges with Plants

9:30-10:00     Alan Bewell, “Alien Introductions:  Colonial Encounters with Weeds”

10:00-10:30  Harriet Friedmann, “The Columbian Transplantation:  Colonial Reconstructions of Agronomies and Foodways”

10:30-11:00  Discussion

11:00-11:15   Break

11:15-11:45   Shiho Satsuka, “Eating Others Well:  Plants, Fungi, and Multispecies Politics in Japan”

11:45-12:15   Discussion

II.  Floral Worlds:  Botanical Romances and Vegetable Aesthetics

1:45-2:15       Alison Syme, “La Vie En Rose”

2:15-2:45       Deidre Lynch, “Nature’s Space is Not Staged:  Greenhouses and Flowery Theatres in Early Romanticism”

2:45-3:15       Discussion

3:15-3:30       Break

3:30-4:00      Ann (Rusty) Shteir, “Women and the Cultural History of Botany”

4:00-4:30      Discussion

Tuesday  May 3rd

I.  Technologies of Capture and Escape:  Plants That Capture and Capturing Plants

9:30-10:00    James Cahill, “The Film Language of Flowers”

10:00-10:30  Natasha Myers, “Sensing Botanical Sensoria”

10:30-11:00   Discussion

11:00-11:15    Break

11:15-11:45    Heather Cruickshank, “Anti-Vegetarian Vegetables:  Encountering Venus Fly Traps as Plants That Eat”

11:45-12:15   Discussion

II.  Intimate Ecologies:  Breeding Connections with Plants

1:15-1:45       Andrew Schuldt, “Sowing New Seeds:  A Collaboration with Honey Crisp Apples”

1:45-2:15      Carla Hustak, ” ‘New Creations of Value’:  Luther Burbank’s Intimate Partnerships with Plants in Affective Experimental Gardens, 1880-1920″

2:15-2:45     Discussion

2:45-3:00    Break

3:00-4:30   Roundtable Discussion:  Reflections on Plant Encounters Workshop

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