May 6-8, 2022
Wilderness is an antidote to the war within ourselves.
-Terry Tempest Williams
Environmental writing is a vast and varied literary genre. In earlier
times “nature writing” treated landscape as a romantic backdrop or a
source of inspiration for our human contemplations, adventures, and
exploration. Today environmental writing is an evolving, diverse, and
psychologically complex genre that reflects our concerns with
conservation and preservation and asks how, in this time of turmoil,
should we live fully and ethically in the world so enormously impacted
by our human needs and desires.
How do we find our voice without losing heart when writing about the
natural world under siege? Perceiving humans as separate and
sovereign over “nature,” and the natural world as a mere commodity
for our exploitation, is a major contributing force behind the
environmental crises we are facing. As writers and psychoanalytic
thinkers, we are in a position to help individuals reconnect to the
natural world and become aware of our intrinsic interdependence with
the totality of our environment. As we harness this awareness, we are
in a position to re-engage with the wildness in ourselves and our
imaginations. Rewilding requires seeing ourselves as intrinsically
connected to, and effected by, every other aspect of our ecosystems.
It is an idea fundamentally consistent with relational psychoanalytic
Throughout this weekend we will explore the psychological defenses
that contribute to the dualistic, and ultimately self-destructive way we
have historically related to the environment, and the impact such
thinking has on the world. We will consider how writing and
psychoanalytic ideas might help us address these defenses and other
human qualities that have contributed to the erosion of our earth’s
ecosystems. Furthermore, we will explore what it would mean to
rewild our minds, our lives, and our world, and to expand a sense of
self to include the totality of our experience on this fragile and
Coordinators: Delia Kostner, Ph.D and Rachel Jadkowski, Psy.D
Megan Mayhew Bergman, MFA is the Director of Middlebury’s Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference. She also teaches literature and environmental writing at Middlebury College. She is a journalist, essayist, and critic. She has written columns on climate change and the natural world for The Guardian and The Paris Review. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares, Oxford American, Orion, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2011 and 2015, and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She was awarded the Phil Reed Environmental Writing Award for Journalism in 2020. Megan is the author of two short story collections, Birds of a Lesser Paradise, andAlmost Famous Women. Her novel, Indigo Run, is forthcoming with Scribner.; She received her MFA from Bennington College, where she has also served as the Associate Director of the MFA program and Director of the Robert Frost Stone House Museum. Her work has been optioned for film and translated into several languages. She’s collaborated with choreographer Annie Wang, traveled to Northern Kenya’s conflict zone with The BOMA Project, and can often be found on the coast of Georgia supporting her friends at conservation non-profit One Hundred Miles. Her photography has appeared in The Guardian and Wall Street Journal. Megan is currently a Senior Fellow at the Conservation Law Foundation.
J. Drew Lanham, Ph.D is an Alumni Distinguished Professor and Master Teacher of Wildlife Ecology at Clemson University. He is a cultural and conservation ornithologist whose work addresses the confluence of race, place and nature. Drew is the Poet Laureate of Edgefield County, SC and the author of Sparrow Envy – Poems (Holocene 2016, Hub City 2018), Sparrow Envy – A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts (Hub City 2021) and The Home Place – Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature (Milkweed 2016/Tantor Audio 2018), winner of the Reed Environmental Writing Award (Southern Environmental Law Center), the Southern Book Prize and a 2017 finalist for the Burroughs Medal. The Home Place was most recently named memoir and scholary book of the decade (Lithub and Chronicle of Higher Education, respectively). Drew’s creative work and opinion appears in Orion, Vanity Fair, Oxford American, High Country News, Bitter Southerner, Terrain, Places Journal, Literary Hub, Newsweek,Slate, NPR, Story Corps, Threshold Podcast, Audubon, Sierra Magazine,This isLove Podcast and The New York Times, among others. He is a Contributing Editor for Orion Magazine, a lifelong bird watcher and hunter – conservationist living in Seneca, SC.