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Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral

International Perspectives

Edited By Bénédicte Chorier-Fryd, Charles Holdefer and Thomas Pughe

In a time of global environmental crisis, pastoralism may seem beside the point. Yet pastoral ideals are still alive even though they often manifest themselves by ironic indirection. What can the pastoral tradition teach us about our ties to particular places?
The contributors to this volume attempt to lay the groundwork for the ongoing concern with pastoral and with its critical revision.
This volume brings together new essays that focus on painting, photography, poetry, essay, fiction and film, from the Renaissance to the present. They also take into account an astonishing variety of pastoral places, in Europe, Africa, and North America; country and city; suburbia and industrial zones.
Poetics and Politics of Place in Pastoral is not only about reassessing the past, but also provides a sense of future developments as the pastoral reinvents itself for the 21 st century.
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Rosa Bonheur – Pastoral Visions


The incomparable Agnes Mongan, Curator of Drawings and, for a time years ago, my boss at Harvard’s Fogg Museum, once described drawings as a “succinct, immediate, informal visual language,” one that is “as attuned as a seismograph to every breath of innovation, every slight change of emphasis, every faint echo of discovery” (Mongan 581). She taught us that drawings reveal the “personal accent” of the artist and, even more, function as a lens through which one can view the ideas and expressions of an era. Indeed, Miss Mongan was very much on my mind when, recently, a remarkable and rich album of drawings by the nineteenth-century French artist Rosa Bonheur came to light at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.1 Though listed in the inventory of a major bequest of books, manuscripts, and paintings left ← 83 | 84 → to the college by the noted collector Clara Peck, the album had been an overlooked item, eclipsed by such flashier works as John James Audubon’s elephant folio Birds of America and a first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species.

The drawings in this album, over two hundred studies packed into forty-four leaves, each leaf measuring 49 x 31 cm, demonstrate the artist’s prodigious dedication to work and her unremitting love of the country, its animals, and peasants. Most of the drawings evoke a Virgilian pastoral in that they represent cowherds and shepherds, shepherdesses and, if one may say it, cowherdesses peacefully watching over their animals. In contrast, in the...

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