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Carbon Futures: Cultivating Coal Consumption in the Second Quarter of the 19th Century

Drawing on period texts and illustrations (travelogues, almanacs, journals, advertisements) promoting coal, this talk will consider how contemporary audiences came to understand this fossil fuel in three ways: through the lens of landscape, as a geological specimen, and as a central component of the domestic sphere. Come learn about how coal’s multiple roles in the visual economy of the early-19th-century prompted a broadening of its use in the following decades.

Rebecca Szantyr was the 2019-2020 William H. Helfand Visual Culture Fellow at the Library Company of Philadelphia. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Brown University, where her research focuses on 18th- and 19th-century print culture. Her dissertation on the Neapolitan-American artist Nicolino Calyo examines the overlap of popular culture and the fine arts in the Atlantic World. From 2015-2018, Rebecca was the Florence B. Selden Fellow in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Yale University Art Gallery, where she curated exhibitions on Jacob Lawrence and the history of caricature. Her research has been supported by the American Antiquarian Society, the Joukowsky Research Travel Fund at Brown, the Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, and the Library Company.

This chat originally aired at 5:00 p.m. Thursday, December 3, 2020.

Talking in the Library will serve as an audio platform for researchers to share the incredible work they’re pursuing using the rich collections at the Library Company of Philadelphia.

Talking in the Library is hosted by Will Fenton, the Director of Scholarly Innovation, and produced by Ann McShane, the Project Digital Asset Librarian at Emory University.

Logo design by Nicole Graham. Theme music by Krestovsky (“Terrible Art”).

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