Margaret Konkol is an assistant professor of Modern and Contemporary American Literature and Digital Humanities at Old Dominion University. Her work addresses questions about the role of nature and technology in shaping material life and changing ideas about poetry’s role in society.
On February 8, 1912, Canadian activist Gertrude Harding orchestrated a protest in the form of a midnight destruction of rare orchids in Kew Gardens. Since the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew operated as a central node in Britain’s colonial network, a “depot for the interchange of plants wherever it saw commercial possibilities,” Harding’s targeted liberation of colonial subjects struck at the deceptively ornamental center of English power. Acting in the name of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), Harding delivered a message: cultivated orchids would no longer be complicit in England’s botanic imperial schemes.
In the opening days of 2020 modernists may have rejoiced over two significant events. On January 1, works published in 1924 entered the public domain. On January 2, Princeton University opened to the public the recently uncrated 1,131 letters from T. S. Eliot to Emily Hale.
This installment marks the last planned set of responses—at least for now—to the special issue on Weak Theory. We’ll bring the discussion to a close, in several weeks’ time, by giving the writers from that issue a chance to answer the responses. Many thanks to all who have participated!