About this collection

The Flammarion engraving.

Environmental history emerged as a corrective measure against the historiographical tendency to emphasize human ideas at the expense of material and nonhuman factors. Nevertheless, early environmental history, such as the works by Donald Worster and Carolyn Merchant, stressed how attitudes towards nature not only affect our way of treating the environment but also have a history of their own. J. Donald Hughes therefore classed the history of ideas as one of the main themes in environmental history.

All environmental historians are aware of the role that the very concepts of nature, wilderness, and the frontier have played in history, especially in the United States, but the role of ideas does not stop there. The thematic collection Notions and Nature therefore focuses on ideas, cultural patterns, concepts, discourses, imaginaries, ideologies, and written works that in different ways play a role in human–environment interaction all over the world. The collection makes use of a broad understanding of ideas and also welcomes submissions on environmental psychology, cognition, and neurohistory.

To make sure that the realm of ideas does not obscure the material conditions in which it exists, and to comply the with the guidelines of Arcadia, submissions must be tied to an event in environmental history—i.e., a specific place at a specific time. Contributors are encouraged to reflect upon the two-way interaction between ideas and the material environment. E.g., did a specific notion or belief change the way humans, for better or worse, acted upon a specific place? Were human ideas affected or created by the discovery of a new environment? And vice versa. 

Considering the above, submissions can cover—but are not limited to—topics such as:

Concepts related to the environment • Utopias, plans, and visions • Assumptions about nature • The relation between written works and specific environments • Myths and misconceptions • The beginning or impact of intellectual environmentalist movements • Idealist and materialist stances toward place • Environmental philosophy • The impact on the environment of ideas and imaginaries • Environmental ideas in symbols, semiotics, and artworks • Ideological uses of nature • Environmental implications of epistemological shifts • The relation between environments and cognition and/or mental health • Different epistemological or ontological conceptions of the natural world

Notions and Nature is curated by Jonatan Palmblad at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment & Society.

To submit, please download the guidelines form at the bottom of this page.

14 results
Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad: Animals Return to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
Jacobs, Robert Arcadia, Autumn 2023, no. 21
Drimys winteri: Circulation of Environmental Ignorance in European Written Sources (1578–1776)
Sartori, Matteo, Prakofjewa, Julia Arcadia, Summer 2023, no. 15
Visions of a Nuclear Apocalypse: Notions of Nature in the 1970s Antinuclear Movement
Gulliver, Robyn Arcadia, Summer 2023, no. 9
Philippe-Sirice Bridel, the Natural Landscape, and the Swiss National Sentiment
de Félice, Nicolas Arcadia, Autumn 2022, no. 16
The Mighty Streams: Coping with Rivers in the Ancient World
Vuković, Krešimir Arcadia, Autumn 2022, no. 14
Multispecies Walden Woods: Reevaluating Thoreau’s Religion
Balthrop-Lewis, Alda Arcadia, Spring 2022, no. 7
Cryptids and Disasters: Serpents and a Werewolf in the Western Indian Ocean Region
Walz, Jonathan R. , Walshe, Rory A. Arcadia, Spring 2022, no. 5
Touching Power: White Womanhood, Colonial Spectacle, and the “Forces of Nature” at the Boulder Power Inaugural
Kanouse, Sarah Arcadia, Autumn 2021, no. 34
The Brazilian Campos in Nineteenth-Century Landscape Art
Bailão, André S. Arcadia, Spring 2021, no. 15
La Muxatena: A Sacred Rock Formation at the Heart of an Indigenous Social Movement for Environmental Rights
Orndorff, Sam Arcadia, Autumn 2020, no. 37
Problematic Postage: Canada’s Claim to the Arctic through a Postage Stamp
Dumas, Daniel Arcadia, Summer 2020, no. 25
Imagining a New Eden in the Nuclear West
Fite, Chris Arcadia, Spring 2020, no. 9
Mateship with Birds: An Australian Plea for Conservation
McGregor, Russell Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 42
Cosmology of the Ergene River Pollution
Dedeoğlu, Çağdaş Arcadia, Autumn 2019, no. 38