School of English

Everybody Needs Beauty: eco-anxiety, climate change, and the search for 'healing nature'

A35 Trent Building
Wednesday 7th June 2023 (16:00-17:00)

The Contemporary Literature Research Network cordially invites you to a talk and wine reception this Wednesday (7th June) 4-5pm.

Dr Samantha Walton (Bath Spa) will be joining us in person (in A35 Trent) to discuss eco-anxiety and the connections between nature, literature and health.

Everybody Needs Beauty: eco-anxiety, climate change, and the search for ‘healing nature’
Dr Samantha Walton (Bath Spa)

In the last decade, interconnected crises of mental health, social injustice and environmental devastation have revived the ancient search for healing nature. Hospitals are being retrofitted with gardens and forests reimagined as wellbeing centres. Increasingly in the UK, it is possible to walk into a doctor’s surgery with anxiety or depression, and walk out with a prescription for nature. Drawing on history, science, literature and art, in this talk I explore the cultural precedents, politics, and future of the ‘nature cure’. From sacred springs to transcendent peaks, beliefs that human health and wellbeing are dependent on contact with and immersion in the more-than-human have been expressed across diverse cultures and historical traditions. The rise of modern medical nature treatments, eco-spiritualities and activist ritual alike give insight into how such practices might help manage legitimate ecological anxieties, build solidarity, and express care for and empathy with the living world. At the same time, it is important to reflect on the many ways in which the history of natural healing has been far from liberatory. Adopting an intersectional lens, I reveal how colonial and capitalist power-relations shaped the history and development of the nature cure, and in our present moment, are contributing to new crises of ecological anxiety and climate trauma. Engaging seriously with the connection between nature and health, I ultimately ask how the 'nature cure' might lead towards a more just and radical way of life: a real means of recovery, for people, society and nature.

This event is open to School of English staff, PGT and PGR students. No sign-up required.

Please contact with any questions

School of English

Trent Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900