The Visual and The Verbal (Symposium/ AHRC Training Day Title)

Doris Rohr

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    The Visual and the Verbal Conference Contribution: Powerpoint presentation by Doris Rohr Doris Rohr’s PhD research project (LICA) seeks to follow John Ruskin’s method of closely observing nature. Through the practice of drawing and writing on the environment Ruskin’s legacy is applied to a personal perspective. Walks along the shore of the sea provide encounter and meditation, and therefore connect with the idea of a contemporary pilgrimage.Ruskin’s concept of nature is a constant reminder of beauty’s fragility, as beauty is only possible considered in moral terms. Ruskin was a polymath who effortlessly combined scientific empirical understanding of the weather, mountains, plants and birds with mythological insights. This poetic and lateral understanding of nature forges connections that reductive modern approaches to science rarely permit. In my thesis I argue that the writings of WG Sebald, Robert McFarlane, and poet Kathleen Jamie, provide accounts of journeys equating to pilgrimages that encompass nature, culture and history and questions of morality. From a science perspective, Rachel Carson in The Sea Around Us (1953) establishes a form of writing that makes science accessible to non-specialists, presenting ‘factual nature’ in a surprisingly Ruskinian fashion, drawing myth and literature into her poetic recounting of the miracle of life forms. Hewison’s suggestion (“Paradise Lost: Ruskin and Science” Time and Tide 1996; p 44) that not all might be lost of Ruskin’s paradise, finds fulfilment as Carson sublimates the divided paths of myth and science, creating a new level of complementary understanding. Carson celebrates the sea as the birthplace of all origin of life, but also prophetically reminds the reader of the imminent dangers of ecological disaster (Silent Spring 1962). Ruskin foretold disaster in "The Storm-Cloud of 19th Century" – a lecture that links climate change with pollution and human corruption through greed. The corrosive quality of ill-managed relationships with the life-world, the cosmos, becomes a connective tissue to contemporary thought. It prepares the ground for Bruno Latour, who in his "Politics of Nature" (1999) proposes a radical re-evaluation of compartmentalised sciences from philosophy and economics within the pragmatic possibilities of relational moral politics. Methods of research used are: the visual (drawn and written) journal; the narrative capacity of drawing, as a translation of experience; writing as an extended form of drawing and a critical mirror, a further reflexive stage.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUnknown Host Publication
    EditorsSharon Ruston
    PublisherLancaster University
    Number of pages15
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 20 May 2015
    EventThe Visual and the Verbal - Lancaster University
    Duration: 20 May 2015 → …


    WorkshopThe Visual and the Verbal
    Period20/05/15 → …


    • Word-image
    • Ruskin
    • Drawing
    • Environment


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