Environmental Humanities Seminar: ‘Situating Chimneys and Trees in Nineteenth-Century French and Irish Culture’


Join us for a joint seminar from our two current EH visiting fellows, Dr Anna Pilz and Dr Daniel Finch-Race:

Situating Chimneys and Trees  in Nineteenth-Century French and Irish Culture

Tuesday 16th October, 1-2pm

The Project Room (1.06), 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh

What happens if we approach the numerous depictions of chimneys and trees in nineteenth-century culture through a combination of French Studies, Irish Studies, and the environmental humanities? In the French context, chimneys proliferate in paintings by artists such as Claude Monet and Berthe Morisot. In the Irish context, trees feature prominently in literary culture, including writings by Maria Edgeworth, Sheridan Le Fanu, and Emily Lawless. These representations of chimneys and trees encourage us to perceive environments in three dimensions – vertically, horizontally, and temporally. In the first instance, chimneys lead to the sky before their output descends, whereas trees put down roots before they grow towards the sky. As far as horizontal dimensions are concerned, the spread of both chimneys and trees entails shifts in aesthetics as well as land use. Regarding temporality, chimneys have long-term effects on the surrounding air and land, while trees – both real and imagined – can act as sites of remembrance and connect generations. Ultimately, a pandimensional reflection on chimneys and trees allows us to recontextualise the socio-political circumstances and materiality of cultural artefacts.

All welcome!