Environmental History Seminar

Exhibition

Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country

Massachusetts Women in WWI. 12 June 2014 to 24 January 2015

Details

Subscribe to this seminar series for $25, and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.

The Boston Environmental History Seminar is an occasion for scholars as well as interested members of the public to discuss aspects of American environmental history from prehistory to the present day. Presenters come from a variety of disciplines including history, urban planning, and environmental management. Six to eight sessions take place annually during the academic year, and most focus on works in progress.

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

October

Environmental History Seminar Finding Meaning and Debating Value in a Historical Landscape 14 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required David Benac, Western Michigan University Victoria Cain, Northeastern University Rural Oregon has shifted from an emphasis on resource extraction to a reliance on ecotourism.   ...

Rural Oregon has shifted from an emphasis on resource extraction to a reliance on ecotourism.  This transition exacerbated a clash of opposing visions of the value of history and the natural world. Competing interpretations of landscape as a resource or as a haven is an old dichotomy in environmental history. This paper adds nuance by employing a third category that intermingles the others: historical significance.

details
November
Environmental History Seminar The Ravages of Teredo: The Historical Impacts of Marine Wood-Boring Worms on American Society, Geography, and Culture, 1865-1930 18 November 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Derek Lee Nelson, University of New Hampshire Comment: Robert Martello, Olin College of Engineering In an episode of history largely forgotten today, teredo, or shipworm, caused millions of ...

In an episode of history largely forgotten today, teredo, or shipworm, caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in American ports by destroying the structural integrity of wharves and ships. Even more startling was the extent to which the wood-boring mollusk invaded the American consciousness through congressional reports, newspapers, and popular culture from the coast deep into America’s heartland. This paper contributes to the history of the “littoral,” or coastal, environment.

details
December
Environmental History Seminar Water Rights in the American Southwest 9 December 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Steven Rudnick, University of Massachusetts - Boston Comment: Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War This paper will primarily consider legal entanglements over water rights in the Southwest, which ...

This paper will primarily consider legal entanglements over water rights in the Southwest, which have been developing since the 1920s and continue to reshape the use and abuse of water in New Mexico. Local contests between Pueblo and Navajo rights and those claimed by the descendants of the Spanish also play a role in this narrative.

details
January
Environmental History Seminar The Rise and Fall of the Texas Longhorn 13 January 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Joshua Specht, Harvard University Beth LaDow, author of The Medicine Line: Life and Death on a North American Borderland This essay will highlight the relationship between the Texas Longhorn and the evolution of the ...

This essay will highlight the relationship between the Texas Longhorn and the evolution of the cattle ranching industry, and explore the linkages between economic systems and the biology of domesticated animals. It will also investigate how popular beliefs about cattle ranching and the West solidified the centrality of beef in the American diet, and serve as a meditation on environmental and business history.

details
February
Environmental History Seminar An Enervating Environment: Altered Bodies in the Lowcountry and the British West Indies 10 February 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Katherine Johnston, Columbia University Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts - Boston This paper examines the interactions between humans and the environment in the eighteenth century. ...

This paper examines the interactions between humans and the environment in the eighteenth century. Both Britons and creoles believed in a close connection between bodies and place, and colonists tried to change the environment based on those perceptions. That interaction created concern for Caribbean inhabitants who attempted to manage the environment to promote their health while noting the environmental changes their actions caused.

details
March
Environmental History Seminar Fear of an Open Beach: The Privatization of the Connecticut Shore and the Fate of Coastal America 10 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia Comment: TBA This essay traces the rise of private beaches along the Connecticut shore and the efforts of ...

This essay traces the rise of private beaches along the Connecticut shore and the efforts of municipalities to protect exclusionary laws from the effects of civil rights movements. It argues that overdeveloped coastlines have been the product of racial and class segregation; thus, the battle over public access to the nation’s shoreline during the 1970s sheds light on the roots of the environmental crisis facing America’s coast.

details
April
Environmental History Seminar Legacy Pollution Issues in Energy Development: The Cases of Manufactured Gas and Natural Gas 14 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University Patrick Malone, Brown University This paper will present two case studies concerning the environmental impacts of past energy ...

This paper will present two case studies concerning the environmental impacts of past energy transitions and their legacy. The cases will focus upon the manufactured gas industry with Massachusetts examples and conventional natural gas development in western Pennsylvania.

details
More events
Environmental History Seminar Finding Meaning and Debating Value in a Historical Landscape 14 October 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. David Benac, Western Michigan University Victoria Cain, Northeastern University

Rural Oregon has shifted from an emphasis on resource extraction to a reliance on ecotourism.  This transition exacerbated a clash of opposing visions of the value of history and the natural world. Competing interpretations of landscape as a resource or as a haven is an old dichotomy in environmental history. This paper adds nuance by employing a third category that intermingles the others: historical significance.

close
Environmental History Seminar The Ravages of Teredo: The Historical Impacts of Marine Wood-Boring Worms on American Society, Geography, and Culture, 1865-1930 18 November 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Derek Lee Nelson, University of New Hampshire Comment: Robert Martello, Olin College of Engineering

In an episode of history largely forgotten today, teredo, or shipworm, caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in American ports by destroying the structural integrity of wharves and ships. Even more startling was the extent to which the wood-boring mollusk invaded the American consciousness through congressional reports, newspapers, and popular culture from the coast deep into America’s heartland. This paper contributes to the history of the “littoral,” or coastal, environment.

close
Environmental History Seminar Water Rights in the American Southwest 9 December 2014.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Steven Rudnick, University of Massachusetts - Boston Comment: Megan Kate Nelson, author of Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War

This paper will primarily consider legal entanglements over water rights in the Southwest, which have been developing since the 1920s and continue to reshape the use and abuse of water in New Mexico. Local contests between Pueblo and Navajo rights and those claimed by the descendants of the Spanish also play a role in this narrative.

close
Environmental History Seminar The Rise and Fall of the Texas Longhorn 13 January 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Joshua Specht, Harvard University Beth LaDow, author of The Medicine Line: Life and Death on a North American Borderland

This essay will highlight the relationship between the Texas Longhorn and the evolution of the cattle ranching industry, and explore the linkages between economic systems and the biology of domesticated animals. It will also investigate how popular beliefs about cattle ranching and the West solidified the centrality of beef in the American diet, and serve as a meditation on environmental and business history.

close
Environmental History Seminar An Enervating Environment: Altered Bodies in the Lowcountry and the British West Indies 10 February 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Katherine Johnston, Columbia University Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts - Boston

This paper examines the interactions between humans and the environment in the eighteenth century. Both Britons and creoles believed in a close connection between bodies and place, and colonists tried to change the environment based on those perceptions. That interaction created concern for Caribbean inhabitants who attempted to manage the environment to promote their health while noting the environmental changes their actions caused.

close
Environmental History Seminar Fear of an Open Beach: The Privatization of the Connecticut Shore and the Fate of Coastal America 10 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia Comment: TBA

This essay traces the rise of private beaches along the Connecticut shore and the efforts of municipalities to protect exclusionary laws from the effects of civil rights movements. It argues that overdeveloped coastlines have been the product of racial and class segregation; thus, the battle over public access to the nation’s shoreline during the 1970s sheds light on the roots of the environmental crisis facing America’s coast.

close
Environmental History Seminar Legacy Pollution Issues in Energy Development: The Cases of Manufactured Gas and Natural Gas 14 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University Patrick Malone, Brown University

This paper will present two case studies concerning the environmental impacts of past energy transitions and their legacy. The cases will focus upon the manufactured gas industry with Massachusetts examples and conventional natural gas development in western Pennsylvania.

close

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