The Columns

Talk at W&L Considers Whether Plants Have Feelings

— by on September 29th, 2016

Lara Farina, an associate professor of English at West Virginia University, will give a lecture at Washington and Lee University on Oct. 27 at 12:15–1:15 p.m. in Hillel House Multipurpose Room 101.

The title of Farina’s talk is “Vines, Petals, Nerves: Feeling Floral Skins.” It is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served; RSVP by Oct. 17 at go.wlu.edu/farina or kaow@wlu.edu.

“Do plants have feelings? This question, while often met with ridicule, has been asked with some urgency in both medieval and modern times of ecological crisis,” said Farina. “Lacking faces, voices, gestures and perceptible motility, plants have seldom been considered candidates for the category of thinking beings in the West, but the possibility that they may share our corporal sensitivities opens a realm of speculation about human/plant interaction and its role in shaping environments.

“In this talk, I’ll consider recent scientific discussion of botanical feeling alongside recent and ancient depictions of plant/human hybrids, queer vegetosexual figures that challenge post-Darwinian ideas about botanic sensation, desire and futurity.”

Farina is the author of the book “Erotic Discourse and Early English Religious Writing” (2006); an edited collection “The Intimate Senses: Taste, Touch and Smell” in Postmedieval, 2012; and has published articles on medieval and modern reading practices, queer theory, tactility and disabled sensation.

Her talk is sponsored by the W&L English Department; the W&L University Lectures Fund; Medieval and Renaissance Studies; and Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies.