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Humanities for the Environment Member Michael W. Twomey
Charles A. Dana Professor of Humanities and Arts, Ithaca College

Michael W. Twomey

Michael W. Twomey is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Humanities and Arts (emeritus) at Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, USA, where he taught medieval literature, environmental criticism, and the history and structure of English. In 2014 and 2015, he taught on the faculty of the Svartárkot Culture-Nature program in Northern Iceland; in 1996-97, he was a Fulbright visiting professor at the University of Dresden, Germany; and he has given invited lectures in England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Canada, and the USA. In his ecocritical research, Michael reads medieval literature as a source of environmental history on the one hand and as a source of environmental memory and ideology on the other. Examples are “How Green Was the Green Knight?” (Arthurian Literature, 2013) and “‘The Fjords Were Full of Fish’: Environmental Conventions in Landnám Narratives” (12th Annual Fiske Conference on Icelandic Studies, Cornell University, 2017). Currently, Michael’s major ecocritical project is a book, Encyclopedic Environments, about the representation of nature in the medieval encyclopedias of England used for studying the liberal arts. Encyclopedias focused on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern environments as keys to reading classical and biblical texts, ignoring the local countryside.  Exemplary Environments thus explores how medieval encyclopedias helped create culturally meaningful but non-scientific paradigms of nature that have influenced modern environmental beliefs. Michael has presented papers drawn from the book in the USA and Europe. He is also one of the editors of the first modern edition of the Middle Ages’ most successful encyclopedia, De proprietatibus rerum (On the properties of things) by Bartholomaeus Anglicus (ca. 1240).

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