This body, this earth: the human landscape of mining in narrative and visual culture from 1850-1900

About the project or challenge area

This interdisciplinary project explores how nineteenth-century literature and visual culture in France, in the age of ‘carboniferous capitalism’ (Asa Briggs), can help us understand the capacity and the agency of the human body. How do bodies respond to environmental pressures, and how do bodies leave their traces on things and on landscape. Exploring Realist and Impressionist art and Emile Zola’s landmark novel Germinal (1885), through a range of critical thought on cultural and material modernisation, this project will ask how textual and visual culture of the past can help us understand more deeply our global present and, perhaps, our future.

Why choose this opportunity?

You will develop a keener sense of how the past shapes our values, consciousness, and behaviours today. You will acquire fluency in the exploration of text and image. You will have the opportunity to work across the boundaries between text, image, and 'real world' instances.

About you

You will have a desire to engage with pictures and narrative texts and will have an enthusiasm for exploring industrial landscape contexts and cultures.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Master's by Research Admissions Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Masters by Research Statement Template (Office document, 68kB).

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project's supervisors. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.


Your supervisor for this project will be Professor Susan Harrow, Ashley Watkins Chair in French Language and Literature in the School of Modern Languages. You can contact her at +44 (0) 117 331 8337 or email .

Find out more about your prospective research community

The Environmental Change theme is a vibrant community of researchers who integrate expertise across multiple disciplines to provide the evidence base and solutions to tackle the world's most pressing environmental challenges. Find out more about the Environmental Change research theme.

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