From the meaning of carnations in Sex and the City to the use of sunflowers in the cleanup of Chernobyl and Henry VIII’s ban on saffron dye, flowers are deeply woven into our culture and our history. How have they inspired us and what do they mean?
The bright yellow of a marigold and the cheerful red of a geranium, the evocative fragrance of a lotus or a saffron-infused paella - flowers are everywhere and there is no end of reasons to love them. Ranging through the centuries and across the globe, there is a wealth of floral associations that has been passed down in perfumes, poems, and paintings; in the design of buildings, clothes, and jewelry; in songs, TV shows, and children’s names; and in nearly every religious, social, and political ritual.
Kasia Boddy is a Professor of American Literature at the University of Cambridge, where she explores how we think and write about objects and activities that appear everywhere in real life, but which for the most part enter only obliquely into literature. Her recent book, Blooming Flowers: A Seasonal History of Plants & People is a study of how poets, philosophers and politicians have seen meaning in flowers. Kasia joins us in The Garden to consider how the sunflower, poppy, rose, lily and many others have given rise to meaning, value, and inspiration throughout history, and why they are integral to so many different cultures.
30 minute talk
20 minute Member Q&A
Kasia is a Professor of American Literature at the University of Cambridge, where she explores our relationship with objects and activities that appear everywhere in real life, but which for the most part enter only obliquely into literature.