Nature and the new science in England, 1665-1726

BookNature and the new science in England, 1665-1726

Nature and the new science in England, 1665-1726

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2018:08


August 10th, 2018



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When scholars of cultural studies consider representations of the land by British writers, the Romantic poets continue to dominate the enquiry, as though the period right before the intensification of the Industrial Revolution offers readers one last glimpse of untarnished nature. Denys Van Renen instead examines the British authors writing in the decades following the Restoration of Charles II, writers whose literary works re-animate and re-embody the land as a site of dynamic interactions, and, through this, reveal how various cultural systems and ecologies shape notions of self and national identity.
Van Renen presents a rich and varied cultural history of ecological exchange—a history that begins in the 1660s, with Milton and Marvell’s rejection of established Renaissance constructs, and ends with Defoe’s Farther Adventures, in which the noise of the persistent howls of animals pierces human representational systems, arguing that British literature from 1665-1726 represents a cognitive symbiosis between human and non-human.
As humans attempt to reduce the adverse effect of the Anthropocene, the author ultimately proposes that the aesthetics of British writers from the Restoration and early eighteenth century might be mobilized in order to rebind humans to their environs.


'Nature and the New Science in England is a work of consummate and sophisticated scholarship, well attuned to contemporary debates, intellectually rigorous, and beautifully written. It should receive the close attention of anyone interested in attitudes towards nature in the long eighteenth century.'
Review of English Studies

Author Information

Denys Van Renen is Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He is the author of 'The Other Exchange: Women, Servants, and the Urban Underclass in Early Modern England' and co-editor of 'Beyond 1776'. He has a critical edition of Dorothy Wordsworth's journals forthcoming.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. ‘Think there’: nature and cognition in Restoration England37
i. Miltonic environments42
ii. Re-cognition in a postlapsarian world50
iii. Stimulated by nature: reembodying England56
iv. Natures after the Renaissance69
2. Royalism, the new science and Native representational systems in America83
i. Reclaiming the nation in The Indian queen and in The Indian emperour92
ii. Salvaging Native epistemologies109
iii. The ‘noble earth’119
iv. Coda129
3. Fantasies of ‘natural’ imperialism in the Far East131
i. Pivoting from America to Asian cultures and environments132
ii. Indamora and the Eastern improvisator142
iii. Coda155
4. Artifice and adaptability on the borders of ‘Europe’157
i. The European semiotics of fashion165
ii. Erasing borders and reestablishing cross-cultural ties in the Ottoman Empire171
iii. The limits of women’s intimacy188
5. Reconfiguring the borders of the human193
i. The howling within / hollowing out of Western ideologies200
ii. Abandonment: reembodying the animal225
Coda: Scottish Enlightenment and the invention of nature235
i. Exploring the Arctic: the last refuge of nature238
ii. Scotland as ‘another form’?241
i. Primary works249
ii. Secondary works251
iii. Other useful works261