The environmental humanities are one of the most exciting and rapidly expanding areas of interdisciplinary study, and this collection of essays is a pioneering attempt to apply these approaches to the study of nineteenth-century Ireland. By bringing together historians, geographers and literary scholars, new insights are offered into familiar subjects and unfamiliar subjects are brought out into the light. Essays re-considering O’Connellism, Lord Palmerston and Isaac Butt rub shoulders with examinations of agricultural improvement, Dublin’s animal geographies and Ireland’s healing places. Literary writers like Emily Lawless and Seumas O’Sullivan are looked at anew, encouraging us to re-think Darwinian influences in Ireland and the history of the Irish literary revival, and transnational perspectives are brought to bear on Ireland’s national park history and the dynamics of Irish natural history. Much modern Irish history is concerned with access to natural resources, whether this reflects the catastrophic effect of the Great Famine or the conflicts associated with agrarian politics, but historical and literary analyses are rarely framed explicitly in these terms. The collection responds to the ‘material turn’ in the humanities and contemporary concern about the environment by re-imagining Ireland’s nineteenth century in fresh and original ways.
Reviews‘A valuable and timely collection.'
Paul Warde, University of Cambridge