My previous work explored the ecological thinking of Christina Rossetti and argued for the word ‘ecology’ as descriptive of a relationship between all things founded in Christian ideas of creation. My new research is focused on Christian contemplation and ecology in the nineteenth century and argues that Catholic and Trinitarian writers in particular endorse contemplative thinking as a form of ecological practice. The writers in whom I am interested include several Catholic and Anglo-Catholic writers including Edward Caswall, Christina Rossetti, Frederick William Faber, Alice Meynell, and Aubrey de Vere as well as writers not usually associated with the Catholic Revival, such as William Barnes and Frances Kilvert. I suggest these writers conceptualise contemplation as the basis of a collective care in which ministering to others serves as a direct counter to Enlightenment calls for individual liberties. Their work thus presents contemplation as a becoming aware of God and his creation and correspondingly that the absence of contemplation leads to an obliviousness of the world and therefore climate crisis. In making this argument, I also suggest the quietude and commonplace contemplation of Victorian Catholicism is often overlooked in favour of readings that overplay its status as gothic, decadent, or hedonistic. I look forward to hearing the thoughts of colleagues at Birmingham in response to this work-in-progress.
A reminder of the next 19CC visiting speaker event: Professor Emma Mason (Warwick) will be with us on Wednesday 15th at 5pm (note, we’re in Arts 104 this time). Title and abstract below. I very much hope you’re able to join us – it should be a terrific paper. Do circulate to others, especially MAs and PGRs.
‘Christian contemplation as ecological practice in nineteenth-century writing’