“To the Ice-House” – With Apologies to Virginia Woolf: Conversations on Place in the Humanities

  • Judith Irwin-Mulcahy et al Wake Forest University


We are a group of faculty from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who came together from the disciplines of literature, history, and religion as part of a Global Humanities research initiative.

In addition to discussing our current research, and to introducing each other to a variety of different critical methodologies, we wanted to ask what the humanities does, and can, and must, contribute to broader discussions of contemporary environmental issues. We also aimed to discover what shared terminology already exists and what meta-language can be created to describe and analyze concepts of landscape and place culture across disciplinary and cultural boundaries.

The evolution of the group, however, is an essential part of our "end-product," which is, in turn, a work in process. Thus we emphasize the importance of the processual aspect of both our research and our research dynamic. Rather than formulate a pre-existing goal, our ideas have grown organically into a shared sense of the importance of place to our work in the humanities. We have committed ourselves to pursuing broader ideals of promoting a sustainable university and more just social understandings of our place in the world. Through our conversations and differing expertise on various geographical and temporal locales, we have confirmed our sense of the necessity of grounding our work in the places where it occurs.

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