Caterina Franciosi

Caterina Franciosi's picture

My dissertation, titled “Latent Light: Energy and Nineteenth-Century British Art” explores how the material and conceptual frameworks of energy, as articulated through a burgeoning fossil-fueled industrial system and scientific theorization, informed art, photography, architecture, and material culture in the nineteenth-century British imperial world. It investigates images, objects, and spaces that reckon, at the level of form, narrative, and materiality, with the coal-fired operations of British modernity, revealing the links between the period’s artistic and material production and the extractive practices of Britain’s global empire. In illuminating the connection between shifting energy regimes, images, and objects across the nineteenth century, I look both inward, identifying the “latent” logic of energy forms (such as sunlight and coal) at work in visual and material terms across different media, and outward, reconstructing the tangible role of coal-fired science, technology, and economy in the social and environmental history of the period. The project argues for the centrality of artistic and material production to the articulation of narratives (and critiques) of Britain’s fossil supremacy in the nineteenth century, a supremacy that both subtended and generated from the overlapping mechanisms of colonialism, imperial science, and capitalist extraction.

History of Art