Participation Type

Paper

Session Title

Deep Ecology in William Gilpin's Sermons

Presentation #1 Abstract

Deep Ecology seeks to minimize or erase human impact on the natural world. As a homilist, the eighteenth-century picturesque travel-writer, philosopher, and cleric William Gilpin provides insights that accord with and complicate our understanding of Deep Ecology. His role as an Anglican cleric is mostly forgotten, although his collected religious works comprise four volumes and also build on, define, and problematize the aesthetics he develops in his other works. If the major tenet of the Deep Ecology movement is the erasure or minimalizing of the human, Gilpin’s practice as a pastor and his depiction of Christians on their journeys of faith downplays human agency, replacing it with a connection to the world of nature and the divine. His own practice as a homily writer, as told to younger men seeking to pursue a life in the church and related in the Preface to his first collection of sermons, was to take with him “a memorandum book” and “a text or two of scripture” as he “walked about his parish, and afterwards when he was able onto to walk into his garden and fields” (1.x). The natural world and the rhythms of nature and town form a key part of Gilpin’s meditation, leading him to diminish humankind’s impact on the world around them. My paper will examine the multiple ways that Gilpin’s love of the natural world expressed through his sermons becomes a precursor to the Deep Ecology movement and further complicates our understanding of our stewardship of the natural world.

At-A-Glance Bios- Presenter #1

I am an associate professor Eighteenth-Century British literature and Women and Gender Studies at SUNY Buffalo State College and a member of the Editorial Board of Sermon Studies. Currently, I am writing a book on the essays of Susan Sontag.

Start Date

10-21-2017 2:00 PM

End Date

10-21-2017 4:00 PM

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Oct 21st, 2:00 PM Oct 21st, 4:00 PM

Deep Ecology in William Gilpin's Sermons

Huntington, WV

Deep Ecology seeks to minimize or erase human impact on the natural world. As a homilist, the eighteenth-century picturesque travel-writer, philosopher, and cleric William Gilpin provides insights that accord with and complicate our understanding of Deep Ecology. His role as an Anglican cleric is mostly forgotten, although his collected religious works comprise four volumes and also build on, define, and problematize the aesthetics he develops in his other works. If the major tenet of the Deep Ecology movement is the erasure or minimalizing of the human, Gilpin’s practice as a pastor and his depiction of Christians on their journeys of faith downplays human agency, replacing it with a connection to the world of nature and the divine. His own practice as a homily writer, as told to younger men seeking to pursue a life in the church and related in the Preface to his first collection of sermons, was to take with him “a memorandum book” and “a text or two of scripture” as he “walked about his parish, and afterwards when he was able onto to walk into his garden and fields” (1.x). The natural world and the rhythms of nature and town form a key part of Gilpin’s meditation, leading him to diminish humankind’s impact on the world around them. My paper will examine the multiple ways that Gilpin’s love of the natural world expressed through his sermons becomes a precursor to the Deep Ecology movement and further complicates our understanding of our stewardship of the natural world.