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Wednesday, February 26, 2020
7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Dabney Hall, Lounge

Visual Culture Program

The volcano, the buried cities and the sublime: Vesuvius in the age of Revolutions
John Brewer, Eli and Edythe Broad Professor of History and Literature, Emeritus, Caltech,

In this talk, John Brewer will examine the changing debate about how the history and aesthetics of Vesuvius and the cities destroyed in the eruption of 79 C.E. were used in the age of revolutions. Novels, poems, paintings, panoramas, and mechanical models propagated a revolutionary view of Vesuvius as a force of regenerative destruction. But, in the early nineteenth century, this view was challenged by a conservative reinterpretation that harked back to a Christian idea of volcanic eruption as divine retribution, while also recasting Vesuvius as a force for continuity and conservation.

About the Visual Culture Program
The Caltech-Huntington Program in Visual Culture, which is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and based in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS), features undergraduate course offerings, guest lecturers, and other programming to foster conversations between humanists and scientists. Its activities are organized by HSS and other Caltech faculty in collaboration with scholars at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.

For more information, please contact Cecilia Lu by phone at 626-395-1724 or by email at