Book Chat | Digging the past: How and Why to imagine Seventeeth-Century Agriculture

fran dolan

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Digging the Past offers fine-grained case studies of projects heralded as innovations in the seventeenth century and today: composting and soil amendment, local food, natural wine, and hedgerows. Frances E. Dolan analyzes the stories seventeenth-century writers told one another in letters, diaries, and notebooks, in huge botanical catalogs and flimsy pamphlets, in plays, poems, and how-to guides, in adages and epics. She digs deeply to assess precisely how and with what effects key terms, figurations, and stories galvanized early modern imaginations and reappear, often unrecognized, on the websites and in the tour scripts of farms and vineyards today.

Frances E. Dolan is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. Her work focuses on seventeenth-century England and Colonial America and has been supported by fellowships including a Guggenheim and a Huntington Library Fletcher Jones fellowship. She is the author of five books, most recently Digging the Past: How and Why to Imagine Seventeenth-Century Agriculture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020), as well as numerous articles. An award-winning teacher and mentor, she has also edited Shakespeare plays and written textbooks for students and has contributed to The Pulter Project, an open access, online edition of the works of seventeenth-century poet, Hester Pulter. She is an avid cook and gardener and a Davis Farmers’ Market booster.

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