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The Surrounding Forest: Trees in the Medieval Imaginary

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Venue: Birkbeck 43 Gordon Square

This one-day symposium aims to explore the image of the tree as a conduit for the exploration of human engagements with environment in the global middle ages, broadly defined, and seeks to encourage cross-cultural, trans-national, and interdisciplinary understanding of the role of trees, woodland, and other vegetation in various contexts. We want to better understand human responses to nature. What is it about ‘arboreal beauty’ that connects it with the divine? Recognized across cultures as axis mundi, the tree shoots upwards, its trunk and branches stretching, reaching, growing towards the light as it seeks to bridge the in-between space that divides earth from the heavens. The liminal quality of foliage, trees, and forests is recognized by artists and weavers of images across the world.

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