Throughout history, varying responses to catastrophe have revealed much about a society's cultural and philosophical character. In "Dreadful Visitations," leading scholars of different disciplines examine eighteenth-century responses to natural disaster, showing how human agency played an active role in the creation of destructive circumstances, and how these disasters helped to establish national and moral identities in the Age of Reason.
Contributors: David Arnold, Daniel Gordon, Carla Hesse, George Starr, Alan Taylor, Steven Tobriner and Charles Walker.
"Interdisplinary in approach, it succeeds well in its aim to capture the global impact of global catastrophies that shook the modern world. This text broadens our historical horizons considerably, offering a richer understanding of the itneraction between cultures."
-Lindsay Wilson, Northern Arizona University
"How 'enlightened' was the Enlightenment? Natural cataclysm was the dark mirror into which eighteenth-century Europeans preferred not to gaze. When they did--as these brilliant case studies show--the gods of optimism did not smile back at them."
-Mike Davis, author of "Ecology of Fear and "City of Quartz
""Dreadful Visitations offers a series of outstanding case studies that explore the bonds between European societies and colonial territories, and the endurance of faith in an age of reason and profit. This is a marvelous example of the virtues of comparative history."
-Paula Findlen, author of "Possessing Nature, Stanford University
"The authors of "Dreadful Visitations skilfully analyze disasters, their preconditions, their impacts, and how people interpret them to reveal fundamental social, ideological and material features of society. From the analysis of literary texts to architectural history to reconstruction narratives, the book is filled with information and insights for advancing theory. "Dreadful Visitations should prove extremely valuable for both social scientists and historians concerned with the impact disasters have on society."
-Anthony Oliver-Smith, author of "The Martyred City: Death and Rebirth in the Andes and editor of "Natural Disasters and Cultural Responses, University of Florida
"As this volume makes clear, natural disastersare rarely wholly "natural," but are the products of human agency as well. The essays in this marvellous collection emphasize the cultural response of Europeans--at home and abroad--to disaster in an age when events formerly seen as the handiwork of an angry God were being questioned. Anyone interested in topics from social history to environmental studies will find much of value here."
-Stuart Schwartz, author of "Slaves, Peasants, and Rebels: Reconsidering Brazilian Slavery, Yale University