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Green Desire

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About the Author

Rebecca Bushnell is Professor of English and Dean of the College, University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of A Culture of Teaching: Early Modern Humanism in Theory and Practice, Tragedies of Tyrants: Political Thought and Theater in the English Renaissance, and Prophesying Tragedy: Sign and Voice in Sophocles' Theban Plays, all from Cornell, and editor of A Companion to Tragedy.


"Green Desire is an unstintingly interesting book. Bushnell writes with great sympathy and quiet wit about the mixture of empiricism, magic, and popular lore in the seventeenth-century gardening manuals, and tells the story of the way they were superseded by the apparently more scientific works on horticulture... She shows how gardens could be places of both fantasy and discipline, in which gentry gardeners sought to exercise power over nature, and create spaces which were in their way as artful as poems."-Colin Burrow, London Review of Books, February 19, 2004 "Bushnell (English, Univ of Pennsylvania) offers this engagingly written, wide-ranging study examining an esoteric subject-16th-and 17th-century English gardening books addressed to readers interested in more ambitious, arcane, or otherwise sophisticated strategies for growing fruits and flowers-yet she manages to reveal the relevance of this modern era... Summing Up: Highly Recommended. General readers; graduate students; faculty."-Choice, March 2004. "One of the merits of this book is to bring women-too often the great absents from garden history-into the picture. Here, Rebecca Bushnell shows us poor women working as weeders in the gardens of the rich, country and urban housewives working in their kitchen garden as providers for their own family and producers for the market, and women of higher ranks as planners of great gardens."-Journal of Women's History "In Green Desire, Bushnell examines the role that books, specifically 16th- and 17th-century gardening manuals, played in the development of the English garden. These colorful, idiosyncratic treatises were not only full of practical gardening information, they also helped define their readers' relationship with nature. Bushnell argues that the plantsmen who wrote the manuals, though not superstar designers, nonetheless had an important role to play in developing the art of gardening. It's a fascinating story."-Patricia Jones, Plants and Garden News, Spring 2004 "From its sensitive attention devoted to a neglected textual form, it reflects subtly and intelligently on critical early modern struggles over the meanings of nature and culture. Given this breadth and quality, it is a book deserving of a wide audience."-Andrew McRae, University of Exeter, English Historical Review Feb 2004 "Reading gardening manuals in relation to early modern discourses of gender, labor, status, science, and nature, Green Desire demonstrates just how important the 'how-to' of growing plants was to the way people crafted their identities. Scholars and gardeners-and those who are both-will appreciate how passion, pleasure, work, and knowledge all come together in Bushnell's perceptive analysis."-Valerie Traub, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor "Green Desire addresses hot topics among scholars today: the importance of the material form of books as part of their meanings; ideologies of gender; the relationships among different classifications of knowledge; social status; and ways in which writers construct a past history. Rebecca Bushnell's book has a particular charm created by her understated wit and quiet mastery over a body of research."-Wendy Wall, Northwestern University

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