Workshop Report: Teaching the Wadden Sea through Literature

On 22 and 23 June, Corridor Talk’s Eveline de Smalen and Katie Ritson co-convened a workshop on literature, education and the Wadden Sea, in which academics in the fields of literature, history and cultural geography and practitioners working in nature conservation and visitor centres came together to discuss ways in which they can learn from, and use each other’s work in their education practices to integrate ideas from nature conservation in literature education and vice versa. The workshop kicked off on 22 June with short introductions to Corridor Talk and the workshop objectives by co-conveners Eveline and Katie (both RCC), after which each participant introduced themselves with the aid of an object they brought to the workshop.

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Pyrénées fieldwork

Now that we are emerging from COVID19-enforced hibernation, fieldwork is continuing on Work Package 2 – Immersions – in the Pyrénées.

Things are moving slowly of course, and Jonathan has been staying safely outside and well ventilated, but the weather has been favourable as we listen in and learn along some participant led ‘transect walks’. These walks take us on a gradient of landscape change from those more human-influenced areas to the wilder end of things, the places where our non-human animals choose to spend the majority of their time. Some images below from a recent walk in April show extracts from the 360 video footage captured for documentary purposes during these walks, as we move from the valley floor up into the middle mountains, passing through an old-growth forest area on the way.

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Vanishing Coasts?

Katie was a speaker in a seminar entitled “Vanishing Coasts” as part of a three-part series Coastal Connections convened by an international team for the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. The seminar session, which took place in February, was put together by Joana Gaspar de Freitas, PI of the ERC-funded project DUNES – Sea, Sand, People and featured coastal research on four continents. A short blog post outlining the research covered in this wide-ranging seminar and discussion can be found here.

Photo by Katie Ritson

Postcard from the Wadden Sea

Dear Corridor Talk colleagues:
This month I made it to the Wadden Sea coast for the first time since our project began! It felt unreal to be standing on the mudflats – experiencing the physical landscape for the first time in well over a year. I picked up this postcard and thought of you, and now I’m typing these words into my computer, but I’m not sure how well they capture what I want to share.

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Boar, Borders & Bright Ideas

On 22 March we had a lively and exciting discussion with Luděk Brož and Laura Kuen, who are part of the BOAR ERC project “Veterinarization of Europe? Hunting for Wild Boar Futures in the Time of African Swine Fever,” based at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. The parts of our respective projects that deal with species mobility and boundaries have a lot of potential for productive dialogue and cooperation, and we are looking forward to talking more in the near future.

Image: Richard Bartz via Wikimedia Commons

The wild boar has interfaces with all of the Corridor Talk field sites, but is particularly closely linked to hunting practices in the Bavarian Forest National Park and Šumava National Park, and the ethnographic methodologies proposed by BOAR have similarities to those developed by Jon and George in the Pyrénées. So besides the happy alliterative trio of bears, birds, and bark beetles, we expect to have some boar making an appearance in Corridor Talk in the future too.

Even with the pandemic preventing us from meeting in person, the rapport on zoom is encouraging.

Sandpipers and the Art of Letting Go: Narratives of Conservation in the Wadden Sea

Photograph by Martha de Jong-Lantink, 2011.
Accessed via Flickr on 3 March 2021. Click here to view source.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

In a new article for Arcadia: Explorations in Environmental History, Eveline de Smalen writes about poetry and nature conservation in the Wadden Sea. The history of conservation in the Wadden Sea reserves a starring role for birds. Birds were important for its conception, central to its policies today and contribute to its success as a protected area, but they can also help us think about nature reserves conceptually and critically assess their role in society. Nature reserves are often considered static, unchanging and ahistorical places. This article provides a reading of Ed Leeflang’s poem “The Sanderling” to show how literature about birds can help us think about nature reserves as historical places shaped by a multitude of more-than-human agencies, and marked by loss.

Read it here.

Seminar “Literary and Visual Landscapes”

Corridor Talk postdoc Eveline de Smalen was recently invited to give a talk as part of the University of Bristol’s Environmental Humanities Centre’s “Literary and Visual Landscapes” seminar series. The talk had to be held digitally and was recorded. You can watch “Nowhere, Somewhere, Elsewhere, Here: Nature Conservation and Cultural Representations of the Dutch Wadden Sea” below.

First Year: Research Roundup

The Corridor Talk project celebrates its first birthday today and aside from the our brief kick-off meeting in Leeds in February 2020 (see photo below), team members have not met in person at all. Visits to field sites have been limited due to the ongoing pandemic and interactions with project partners severely circumscribed. Nonetheless, regular digital meetings have kept us in touch and on target and we approach the second year of the project with a round-up of what we have achieved so far and a look ahead to the next few months – whether or not these will be spent in lockdown.

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Workshop “Ecology in German Literary Criticism – Recent Developments and Approaches”

Corridor Talk PI Katie Ritson was recently invited to give a talk as part of the workshop “Ecology in German Literary Criticism – Recent Developments and Approaches,” funded by the DAAD University of Cambridge German Research Hub. The Research Hub produced a podcast about this workshop, which can be found here (the discussion of Katie’s Corridor Talk research starts at minute 24:45). Inevitably the workshop had to be held digitally and Katie’s talk, entitled “Aufklärung am Rande: The Wadden Sea in German Literature” was pre-recorded, meaning that we can now post it here too.


Image on this page: Wadden sea in Germany, Hallig Hooge and Pellworm © Ralf Roletschek via Wikimedia Commons

“Corridor Talk” Workshop

The Corridor Talk project held its first workshop and AGM on 9 November, hosted by the Rachel Carson Center in Munich. The workshop was held online as the COVID crisis made travel impossible. All six members of the Corridor Talk team were present.

Report by Graham Huggan

Chair: Dr. Katie Ritson (RCC Munich)
Participants: Corridor Talk project team
National park and other project-partner representatives: Pavel Bečka (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald / Národní park Šumava); Etienne Farand (Parc National Pyrenees); Marco Heurich (Nationalpark Bayerischer Wald); Thierry Lefebvre (IUCN); Meindert Schroor (Waddenacademie); Hannah Wilting (Nationalpark Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer).

The discussion focused on three sets of questions, each of which had previously been distributed to the project partners along with a brief information package about the project. (1) To what extent do the Corridor Talk project’s main aims and objectives speak to your own, and how might the work done by the Corridor Talk team help you achieve them? (2) Which of these aims and objectives are shared between the participating national parks, and how might the project contribute to these? Which aims and objectives are specific to your particular park? (3) Has the COVID crisis forced you to rethink any of these aims and objectives and/or to come up with new ones? Should the Corridor Talk project be reframed as a result, and if so, how?

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