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Ducharme Lecturer Jordan Loveridge to Examine Relationship Between Man & Nature

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts

medieval bees

Based on his recent reading list, Associate Professor of Communication Jordan Loveridge, Ph.D. may have been born in the wrong century. Loveridge’s scholarship has him blowing dust off ancient and medieval texts from Aristotle to Aquinas and spanning countries from Allemange to Arabia. He studies rhetoric, especially its use and evolution over the years. One question that particularly fascinates him is humankind’s relationship with nature.

loveridge-in-text.pngIn presenting the fall Ducharme Lecture at 4 p.m. on September 27, Loveridge will explain the ancient and inescapable relationship that humans have with nature and the evolution of that connection over the centuries. During the lecture, titled “Praise Bee,” he will drop into the 12th century in citing the writings from The Aberdeen Bestiary, a zoological guide of many known fauna of England, as well as draw on writings from ancient Greece.

The Aberdeen Bestiary describes the lion as an epic hunter, but then digresses into a tale about how lion cubs are stillborn until the father lion comes on the third day to breathe life into the cubs: “Thus the Almighty Father awakened our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead on the third day.” Did the medieval scholars compiling this book understand this as fact? Since this book was transcribed in England, it’s incredibly unlikely that they had seen a lion before.  Nonetheless, the evocative personifying rhetoric applied to nature is proof of the strong bonds of people with creation.

The agrarian lifestyle in the 12th century bound people to the land, and they witnessed ecological relationships every day. With most people working as farmers, they held a deep understanding of nature. The monks who were professing the gospel found interactions in nature that could help people understand parables from the Bible.

swarm-of-bees-in-text.jpgEnter the sacred bee. The Aberdeen Bestiary presents bees as noble creatures: “They occupy the places assigned to them… They fill their fortress, made from a network of wax, with countless offspring. Bees have an army and kings; they fight battles.” Replace the word “bee” with “serf,” and you have a feudal utopia. Industrious underlings serve their king in battle, work tirelessly, and grow the kingdom with their progeny.

Today the bee remains a ubiquitous symbol of nature and a healthy ecosystem. News that bees are disappearing at an alarming rate across the world has become a battle cry for environmental groups.

How have bees remained paragons of the natural world and engrained themselves with humans for thousands of years? Find out at the Ducharme Lecture. Offered each semester, the lecture is made possible by a generous gift from Mount alumnus and trustee Raphael Della Ratta, C’92.

Michael Hershey
Graduate Assistant, College of Liberal Arts