Re-enchanting Volcanoes: The Rise, Fall and Rise Again or Art and Aesthetics in the Making of Volcanic Knowledges

Deborah P. Dixon, Daniel Beech

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Current day volcanology largely tends to an instrumentalist view of art as, in its mimetic form, capable of providing proxy data on the timing and unfolding of particular volcanic events and, in its impressionistic form, of conveying the sublime grandeur of volcanic events and scenes. In this chapter, we note that such a reductionist view of what science is unhelpfully glosses over a much more complex disciplinary lineage, wherein both art and aesthetics played a key role in knowledge production concerning volcanoes. Using the work of Sir William Hamilton and Mary Somerville as case studies, we emphasise that art and aesthetics were part and parcel of both an 18th and 19th century approach to the study of volcanoes, and the making of particular scientific audiences. What is more, it is this lineage that provides a creative reservoir for more recent efforts that cut across scientific and arts divides, such that the ‘communication’ of the nature of volcanoes becomes a multi-media, multi-affective endeavour that speaks to a diverse range of publics
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationObserving the Volcano World
Subtitle of host publicationVolcano Crisis Communication
EditorsCarina J. Fearnley, Deanne K. Bird, Katherine Haynes
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9783319440972
ISBN (Print)9783319440958
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in Volcanology


  • art
  • aesthetics
  • Hamilton
  • Somerville
  • art-science collaborations


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