• Interrogating Green Space in Medieval Monasticism: Position, Powers and Politics

    James L. Smith (see profile)
    Environmental Humanities, History, Medical Humanities, Medieval Studies, Religious Studies
    Middle Ages, World politics, Monasticism and religious orders, Medievalism
    Item Type:
    Neurohumanities, Medieval brain, Cistercianism, Green space, Medical humanities, Political history, Social power, Monasticism
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    This article explores three facets of green space within a medieval monastic context: its origin, its effects and properties and the way it was shaped into an expression of power. We learn a great deal about the history of green space through the nuances of monastic thought and vice versa. The term ‘green space’ in a medieval context may initially seem anachronistic and an artefact of twenty-first century health policy and neuroscience and yet, as this article argues, the use of medieval knowledge for moral and institutional power as well as medicine and spiritual contemplation tells us as much about monastic thought as its equivalent reveals of our urban and rural landscapes today. The term ‘green space’ is an insight into the medieval brain, an artefact of monastic self-fashioning and power. Medieval and modern perspectives should share the spotlight. In outlining properties and exploring political ecology, this article deploys a collection of rhetorical landscape descriptions, primarily from the Cistercian literature of the twelfth century, placing them in a wider context. In doing so, we understand another facet of monastic authority established and over landscape and articulated through the power structures of medicine, natural philosophy and other aspects of monastic learned discourse. Knowledge makes green, green promotes health, health valorises monasticism, monasticism shapes knowledge: a green circle of power.
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    5 years ago


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