On October 15, 2015, a group of seven descended upon the Graduate Reading Room of the English Department at New York University. They came with print-outs, local beer and whiskey, and apples from an NYC Greenmarket. They were all graduate students pursuing master's and doctoral degrees in English. They were there to talk about farming... and texts.
I've had the very good fortune to collaborate this year with fellow NYU doctoral student in English Kimberly Adams and faculty advisors Patricia Crain and Lisa Gitelman to form From Farm to Text. We are a "working group" of graduate students and faculty, based in and funded by the English Department of New York University. We meet once a month as a reading group during the academic year, we plan events, and we may embark on field trips in the near future. You can check out everything we have going on and currently announced at our new website: https://wp.nyu.edu/sustainability-farmtotext/
From our first poster:
The material conditions necessary for life include food. Humans have been growing theirs for over eleven millennia. Agriculture today accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other human activity, and it accounts for all of us. Culture today rests on cultivation, art included, few exceptions. How does our agricultural production affect our other cultural productions?
From our approved departmental application:
From Farm to Text sets out to engage and participate in current debates on food and agriculture in society in relation to our positions as literary scholars. We are interested in both the history and the contemporary stakes of the debate. We would like to consider these issues both as practical human concerns, and as literary and philosophical problematics, questioning how we, as thinkers, engage with a fundamental material substrate of our given world, the food we grow and eat. We plan to invite speakers to talk about agrarianism and materialism in connection with literature and literary traditions. When appropriate we will organize reading group sessions for graduate students to participate in prior to the public lectures. We aim to generate a serious discussion in the department about the intersections of literature, agriculture, and community.