Accepted Papers:

Lost ancestry and English landscapes  


Chris Gosden (University of Oxford)

Paper Short Abstract:

The public and academic interests in landscape In England derive from a sense of longing for, and loss of, ancestors. To understand approaches to landscape, we need to understand how the loss of ancestors has affected us in multiple ways.

Paper long abstract:

I will start with a proposition - anthropology and archaeology began in their modern form due to a loss of faith in their ancestors on part of the middle classes. Anthropology allowed people to become interested in other people's ancestors; archaeology displaced problems of ancestry way back into the past making it an impersonal quest, easily mythologized. One of the few ways in which it is possible to use the term English as a description without it sounding self-conscious or odd is in the phrase 'English landscape'. Public interest in landscape in England came about through a search for ancestry and rootedness. Academic interests in landscape from the later 20th century onwards share some of the same motivations, for instance in phenomenological approaches, but totally unacknowledged. This paper will look at some of the emotional and intellectual longing attached to the term landscape, both in reference to the English landscape, but ultimately in the study of landscape by English scholars elsewhere.

panel P32
Imagining past and present landscapes