From the list on invasive species and their impact on human history.
Who am I?
I’m an English professor in New England whose research and teaching interests focus on the Shakespearean Stage and the Environmental Humanities. As an educator, I’m always looking for ways to romanticize the impact that literature can have on the world—either politically, ideologically, or physically. The story that Kim Todd shares about the European Starling proliferating in North America because of a Shakespeare-loving member of a New York Acclimatization Society has changed the way that I look at birds, at Shakespeare, and the world. It has encouraged me to find other stories like this one to share with my students—and to tell a few of my own.
William's book list on invasive species and their impact on human history
Why did William love this book?
I’m grateful to see how the narrative about Columbus, the Pilgrims, and European colonialism has changed since I was in elementary school, but for someone who was taught that Columbus was a kind of hero-genius, this book was a revelation.
One of its most powerful lessons is how efficient pre-capitalist systems of commerce were; the Incan Empire, which was far bigger than the Holy Roman Empire or the Ottoman Empire, never experienced famine because they prioritized life and well-being over gold and profit. This book also shows how flora in the Americas exploded during the sixteenth century, leading to the Orbis Spike, or the beginning of anthropogenic environmental change.
The lessons from the pre-Columbian, pre-capitalist, and pre-Enlightenment world are invaluable for confronting contemporary problems of American democracy and environmentalism today.