Dealing with Disasters from Early Modern to Modern Times
Dealing with Disasters from Early Modern to Modern Times
Cultural Responses to Catastrophes
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Introduction: Cultural Responses to Catastrophes from Early Modern to Modern Times (Hanneke van Asperen and Lotte Jensen)
PART 1 - Disaster and Emotions
1. Temporality, Emotion, and Gender in Leonardo da Vinci’s Conceptualisation of Natural Violence (Susan Broomhall)
2. Early Modern Community Formation Across Northern Europe: How and Why a Poet in Poland Engaged with the Delft Thunderclap of 1654 (Paul Hulsenboom)
3. Landscape as Wounded Body: Emotional Engagement in Visual Images of Floods (Hanneke van Asperen)
4. Suffering Compatriots: Compassion, Catastrophe, and National Identification in the Netherlands in the Nineteenth Century (Fons Meijer)
5. Cultural Resilience during Nineteenth-Century Cholera Outbreaks in the Netherlands (Lotte Jensen)
PART 2 - Disaster and Blame
6. Dealing in Disasters: Selling Apocalyptic Interpretations of Disasters in the Sixteenth-Century Low Countries (Marieke van Egeraat)
7. The Ten Plagues of the New World: The Sensemaking of Epidemic Depopulation in Sixteenth-Century Mesoamerica (Florian Wieser)
8. ‘Hungry Balliz Wants Weel Fillin’: The Visualisation of the Great Irish Famine (1845-1851) and the Lancashire Cotton Famine (1861-1865) in the Victorian Illustrated Press (Sophie van Os)
9. Rinderpest in Dutch Regional Fiction: Community, Precariousness, and Blame (Anneloek Scholten)
PART 3 - Disaster and Time
10. Coping with Epidemics in Early Modern Chronicles, The Low Countries, 1500-1850 (Theo Dekker)
11. Coverage in Dutch Newspapers of Earthquakes in Italy and Beyond before Lisbon 1755 (Joop W. Koopmans)
12. The Development of Disaster Prints and Publications in Japan, 1663-1923 (Julia Mariko Jacoby)
13. Breaking the Cycles of Catastrophe: Disaster, Time, and Nation in Dutch Flood Commemoration Books, 1757-1800 (Adriaan Duiveman)
14. Disaster Memory and ‘Banished Memory’: General Considerations and Case Studies from Europe and the United States (19th-21st Centuries) (Christian Rohr)
Notes on the Contributors

Reviews and Features

“This volume … shows the necessity of a more organic integration of cultural history with other branches of social, economic, political, and environmental history. Put simply, this volume is asking all the important questions.”
-- Daniel R. Curtis, Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, Vol. 136, Issue 3, December 2023

Hanneke van Asperen, Lotte Jensen (eds)

Dealing with Disasters from Early Modern to Modern Times

Cultural Responses to Catastrophes

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.

Hanneke van Asperen

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

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).