HomeThe Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French and English-Speaking Worlds (19th-21st century)

HomeThe Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French and English-Speaking Worlds (19th-21st century)

The Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French and English-Speaking Worlds (19th-21st century)

Puissances du végéter dans la littérature et les arts des mondes francophones et anglophones (XIXe-XXIe siècle)

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Published on Friday, June 09, 2023


The aim of this international conference is to reflect on the active role of plants in texts and visual representations in the literature and arts of the anglophone and the francophone worlds from the nineteenth century to the present day. We will think about the aesthetic, political, and epistemological implications of this form of agency and analyse the way in which plants act upon and with the human world from an anthrodecentric perspective. We will look at how plants can organise or disorganise our world, call into question established truths, and shape power relations, including political ones.



Thursday 15 June 2023 

Room Z30, Institut Catholique de Paris

9.00 – 9.45: Registration, coffee

9.45 – 10.00: Welcome by the Vice Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Delphine Louis-Dimitrov

10.00 – 11.00: Keynote lecture: Undergrowth

  • Martin Crowley (Queens’ College, University of Cambridge), Undergrowth

11.00 – 11.30: Coffee Break

11.30 – 12.30: Panel 1: Plant performances. Chair: Pr. Catherine Bernard

  • Yota Batsaki (Dumbarton Oaks, USA). Taking Over the Gallery: Plant Performances of Novel Ecologies
  • Jenni Vauhkonen (University of Turku, Finland). Plants as Performers (and More): Rethinking Agency in Contemporary Plant Art

12.30 – 14.30: Lunch break

14.30 – 16.30: Panel 2: Plant portraits and identities in the making. Chair: Dr. Sarah Bouttier

  • Rachel Sloan (The Courtauld Gallery, UK). The Flowers of the Field: the Inner Life of Plants in the Work of Léon Bonvin
  • Emma Trott (University of Leeds, UK). Agency, Anthrodecentrism, Atrocity: Plant-Poet Encounters in Jon Silkin’s Flower Poems
  • Brandon Scott (MIT, USA). Ulmarium: Boughs of History
  • Ellie Kyungran Heo (artist, UK). The Ragwort

16.30 – 17.00: Tea break

17.00 – 18.00: Panel 3: Unruly urban plants. Chair: Pr. Sara Thornton

  • Clémence Laburthe-Tolra (Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3, France). Ecologies of differences in Rose Macaulay’s expression of the ‘London Jungle’ in The World My Wilderness (1950) 
  • Sarah J. Moore (University of Arizona, USA). Trees Speaking Slowly in Manhattan: Time Landscape

 18.00: Drinks

Friday 16 June 2023

Room Z22, Institut Catholique de Paris

9.30 – 10.00:  Welcome, coffee

10.00-11.00: Panel 4: Ambivalent changes Chair: Pr. Thomas Dutoit

  • Xavier Lachazette (Le Mans Université, France). The Plant Kingdom Strikes Back: Metamorphic Counter-Violence in Daphne du Maurier’s “The Apple Tree” (1952)
  • Roger Davis (Red Deer Polytechnic, Canada). “Billions of puppets with poisoned minds”: Youths, Universities, and Eugenics in the Fungal Zombie Apocalypse

11.00 – 11.30: Coffee break 

11.30 – 12.30: Panel 5: Empire and plant agency. Chair: Dr. Marine Bellégo

  • Emilia Terracciano (University of Manchester, UK). Plant Autographs of Jagadish Chandra Bose (Colonial Bengal, 1858-1937): Botany, Empire, and the case of Mimosa Pudica 
  • Camila Medina Novoa (ETH Zürich, Switzerland). The Rare in the Resistance to Appropriation

12.30 – 14.30: Lunch break 

14.30 – 16.00: Panel 6: Entangled plant-human agencies. Chair: Pr. Cécile Roudeau

  • Sophie Laniel-Musitelli (Université de Lille, France). Visionary Plants in Romantic Poetry: The Cases of William Blake, Percy Shelley and John Clare
  • Jillian Kruse (Case Western Reserve University / The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA). John Ruskin’s Budding Sycamore: Attention, Witness, and the Wisdom of Trees
  • Valérie Morisson (Université de Dijon, France). Entanglements: Irish artists collaborating with plants 

16.00 – 16.30: Tea break 

16.30 – 17.30: Panel 7: Decolonial Agencies. Chair: Dr. Marine Bellégo

  • Marta Wódz (KU Leuven, Belgium). Knowledge of plants. Plants in contemporary art as archives of histories from below
  • Cédric Courtois (Université de Lille, France).“We the trees”: Plant Subjectivities and Life-Worlds in Niyi Osundare’s Green: Sighs of Our Ailing Planet (2021) [Zoom]

 17.30 – 18.00: Closing remarks


On the website of the event

Organising committee

  • Estelle Murail (ICP)
  • Laura Ouillon (LARCA, Université Paris Cité)
  • Delphine Louis-Dimitrov (ICP)


  • Compulsory registration on https://the_agency_of_plants.eventbrite.fr - Campus des Carmes of the Catholic University of Paris, 74 rue de Vaugirard, 75006 Paris
    Paris, France (75)

Event attendance modalities

Full on-site event


  • Thursday, June 15, 2023
  • Friday, June 16, 2023


  • plant, agency, representation, art

Reference Urls

Information source

  • Laura OUILLON
    courriel : ecologicalgriefconf [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« The Agency of Plants in the Literature and the Arts of the French and English-Speaking Worlds (19th-21st century) », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Friday, June 09, 2023, https://doi.org/10.58079/1bdf

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