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Dealing with Disasters from Early Modern to Modern Times

Cultural Responses to Catastrophes

338 pages
Amsterdam University Press
Disasters are as much cultural as natural phenomena. For centuries, news about catastrophic events has been disseminated through media such as chronicles, pamphlets, newspapers, poems, drawings, and prints. Nowadays, we are overwhelmed with news about the cataclysmic effects of recent forest fires, floods, and storms. Due to the ongoing climate crisis, extreme weather events will likely have ever greater impacts on our lives.
This volume addresses cultural representations of catastrophes such as floods, epidemics, and earthquakes over the centuries. In the past as now, artists and authors try to make sense of disasters, grasp their impact, and communicate moral, religious, or political messages. These creations reflect and shape how people learn and think about disasters that occur nearby or far away, both in time and space. The parallels between past and present underline how this book contributes to modern debates about cultural and creative strategies in response to disasters.
Author Bio
Hanneke van Asperen is an art historian affiliated with the Centre for Art Historical Documentation (CKD) at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. As postdoctoral researcher, she is part of the NWO-funded project Dealing with Disasters. The Shaping of Local and National Identities in the Netherlands (1421-1890). She has an expertise in visual images of charity and nature-induced disasters in premodern times. Additionally, she has an interest in medieval pilgrimage and religious badges. Her recent book Silver Saints. Prayers and Badges in Late Medieval Books (Brepols 2021) focuses on the practice of adding religious badges to devotional manuscripts. Lotte Jensen is Professor of Dutch Cultural and Literary History at Radboud University, Nijmegen and Principal Investigator of the NWO-funded Vici project Dealing with Disasters. The Shaping of Local and National Identities in the Netherlands (1421-1890), which investigates the impact of natural disasters on Dutch local and national identities from a cultural-historical perspective. She has published books on Napoleon’s legacy in the Netherlands, Dutch literary history and the emergence of Dutch identity. Her most recent book is a cultural history of Dutch floods: Wij en het water. Een Nederlandse geschiedenis (De Bezige Bij 2022).