The Faculty of English Research Theme for 2021-22 is ‘Plant Life’, a forum for the many people in the Faculty working in all periods and interested in (among other things) the historical development of botany and gardening, the symbolism and cultural resonance of plants (in material and art history as well as in literature), the theoretical perspectives and political impulses of the environmental humanities, and the challenge to the idea of ‘plant life’ posed by composite organisms such as lichens. In some ways ‘plant life’ seems a very traditional literary ‘theme’, but it is also at the heart of current intellectual debates about sustainability, the environment and the legacies of empire.