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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Visual & Material Forum 2020-21

18 November 2020

Time: 4:00 - 5:00pm
Speaker: Dr Stephanie O'Rourke (University of St Andrews)
Venue: Online (via TeamsLive)

The Visual & Material Forum, in partnership with the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies is delighted to announce that Stephanie O’Rourke (St Andrews) will be speaking on 'Forest Histories' on 4-5pm on Wednesday, 18 November.

The talk is free and will be held online on TeamsLive. Please RSVP via this form:

Abstract: The forest has its own time—one that does not necessarily align with the timescales that govern the social and political lives of humans. In late eighteenth-century France, this fact was difficult to ignore. Mounting anxieties about timber shortages were coming in conflict with traditional woodlands management and access rights. Politicians and writers were increasingly aware of the distinct historicity of France’s forest. Yet this was also a period during which, it is often observed, the events of the French Revolution were reframing how human history itself was understood. This paper considers how late eighteenth-century landscape paintings accommodated and responded to these developments: the recognition of the forest’s non-human histories, on the one hand, and new ways of framing human history, on the other. I proposes that by picturing the human and the natural alongside one another, certain landscape paintings were uniquely equipped to explore how these histories could be rendered mutually comprehensible.

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