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What Else Is Pastoral?Renaissance Literature and the Environment$
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Ken Hiltner

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449406

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449406.001.0001

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Environmental Protest Literature of the Renaissance

Environmental Protest Literature of the Renaissance

(p.125) 6 Environmental Protest Literature of the Renaissance
What Else Is Pastoral?

Ken Hiltner

Cornell University Press

This chapter considers how thousands of individuals rose up across England in the seventeenth century to defend the newly emerging, endangered countryside, as well as draws attention to issues of environmental justice. Radical groups known as Levellers and Diggers developed a number of very modern environmental positions by arguing the need for diversity (both in plant and animal life); suggesting that changes to local ecosystems can have regional, even national, consequences; proposing that human cultures should be built on customs that respond to the particular conditions of local habitats; resisting the introduction of agricultural monocultures; and so forth. However, while the protesters were articulating this environmental discourse, prospective developers of England's early modern countryside were countering with their own by systematically touting the benefits of introduced species and monocultures; arguing that the vagaries of certain local ecosystems were so great that destruction of these otherwise fertile places was justified; and suggesting that the benefit to the poor would warrant the destruction of existing ecosystems.

Keywords:   English countryside, environmental justice, environmental activists, radical groups, Levellers, Diggers

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