Call for Proposals: Environmental Narratives and the Eremitic Turn

Florentine School, Scenes from the Lives of the Desert Fathers (the ‘Smaller Lindsay panel’), detail. Late fifteenth century. Scottish National Galleries, Edinburgh.


Different Visions invites proposals for contributions to a special issue, “Environmental Narratives and the Eremitic Turn.” This encompasses the locus of eremitic experience, which might be from any religious tradition or geographical location, whether wilderness, mountain, or desert, broadly conceived. It also encompasses the bodies – individual and communal – who chose to inhabit that landscape (as a real or imagined place), and their lived experience. This special issue seeks to explore the diverse ways in which eremitic bodies, ascetic practice, and the landscape of the wilderness, were represented and imagined in visual culture.

We welcome submissions that:

  • consider the resonance and meaning of the ascetic tradition across time and space
  • investigate the ascetic tradition and its entanglement with notions of the landscape as wilderness and holy mountain
  • adopt an environmental or ecocritical approach to the eremitic experience
  • explore the tensions between, for example, wilderness and cultivation, inhospitable and fertile landscapes, ascetic practice and the eremitic impulse
  • consider the re-imagining or invocation of the historical desert in monastic, mendicant or other contexts
  • explore the continuing resonance of the eremitic, in symbolic or ecologic terms, in our contemporary world
  • approach the themes above from a global perspective

This special issue engages with urgent contemporary concerns about the impact of human activity on the earth that sustains us. It resonates with recent scholarly interest in the relationship between humanity and nature in the pre- and early modern period, seeking a broad, inclusive, and cross-disciplinary reflection on the visual representation of this interdependence.

Please submit a proposal of no more than 300 words to by Nov 30th. First drafts of accepted essays of no more than 12,000 words will be due August 1, 2024.

For questions please reach out to

You may also reach out to the special issue editors: