New Title on Hubert Robert: ‘Futures & Ruins’

Posted in books, Member News by Editor on November 20, 2010

From the Getty’s website:

Nina Dubin, Futures & Ruins: Eighteenth-Century Paris and the Art of Hubert Robert (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2010), 210 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60606-023-0, $50.

In this timely and provocative study, Hubert Robert’s paintings of urban ruins are interpreted as manifestations of a new consciousness of time, one shaped by the uncertainties of an economy characterized by the dread-inducing expansion of credit, frenzied speculation on the stock exchange, and bold ventures in real estate. As the favored artist of an enterprising Parisian elite, Robert is a prophetic case study of the intersections between aesthetics and modernity’s dawning business culture.

At the center of this lively narrative lie Robert’s depictions of the ruins of Paris—macabre and spectacular paintings of fires and demolitions created on the eve of the French Revolution. Drawing on a vast range of materials, Futures & Ruins understands these artworks as harbingers of a modern appetite for destruction. The paintings are examined as expressions of the pleasures and perils of a risk economy. This captivating account—lavishly illustrated with
rarely reproduced objects—recovers the critical significance of the eighteenth-
century cult of ruins and of Robert’s art for our times.

Nina L. Dubin is an assistant professor of art history at the University of
Illinois at Chicago.

Advance praise for Futures & Ruins

Nina Dubin’s incisive readings of Hubert Robert’s ruin pictures, seen through the lens of period financial fears and speculations, will completely alter the prevailing wisdom about these paintings. These artworks were hitherto interpreted exclusively via the rhetorics of “the picturesque,” but Dubin brings their salient modernities to life. The context of economic risk and the concomitant imagination of calamity that she evokes in this beautifully written book could not be more topical if she had invented the whole thing. And she did not!
—Hollis Clayson, Bergen Evans Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern University

An astute reader of images and their cultural implications, Nina Dubin proposes in this beautifully produced study of Hubert Robert’s enigmatic apocalypses a new understanding of how late-eighteenth-century aesthetics responded to the precarious temporality of dislocations that redefined economic value, politics, urbanism, and the very sense of what history might be.
—Thomas Kavanagh, Augutus R. Street Professor of French, Yale University

Digital Resources, Part III: What Are the Best?

Posted in resources by Editor on November 20, 2010

The 2011 BSECS Prize for Digital Resources
Nominations due by 1 December 2010

The British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) is pleased to call for nominations for the 2011 Prize for the best digital resource supporting eighteenth-century studies. The prize is funded by Adam Matthew Digital, GALE Cengage Learning, the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and ProQuest. It is judged and awarded by BSECS. This prize promotes the highest standards in the development, utility and presentation of digital resources that assist scholars in the field of eighteenth-century studies broadly defined. Nominated resources should meet the highest academic standards and should contribute in one or more of the following ways:

  • by making available new materials, or presenting existing materials in new ways;
  • by supporting teaching of the period at university level;
  • by facilitating, or itself undertaking, innovative research.

The prize is intended to benefit the international research community, and the competition is open to projects from any country. Resources supporting any scholarly discipline are eligible. Websites or other resources and projects may be nominated by either creators or users. They must have been first launched on or after 1 January five years prior to the year in which the prize is awarded. The winner will be announced at the BSECS Annual Conference in January. The award of £200 is made annually. Nominations close on 1 December in any year. For a nomination form, visit the BSECS website.

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Last year’s prize was awarded to Electronic Enlightenment. As noted at the Oxford University Press website:

Electronic Enlightenment, a unique website which reconstructs the vital web of correspondence that made the long 18th century the birthplace of the modern world, has won the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Digital Prize for 2010. Electronic Enlightenment (EE) is a scholarly research project of the Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, and is distributed exclusively by Oxford University Press at www.e-enlightenment.com. With a unique collection of primary documents, based on scholarly critical editions and never-before-published materials, EE’s current offering of over 55,000 letters and 6,500 correspondents provides a new vision of the early modern world. Linking people and ideas across Europe, the Americas and Asia from the early 17th to the mid-19th century, EE recasts our understanding of the Enlightenment and ourselves in a more detailed and personal context than ever before. . . .

In response to the award, Dr Robert McNamee, Director of the Electronic Enlightenment Project, said: “There are a growing number of extraordinary resources being offered to scholars in the period; to have EE’s hard work and scholarship recognized as ‘best in class’ by one of the key learned societies in the field is a great honour. Our small but dedicated team works hard to provide students and researchers with an imaginative yet scholarly recreation of the Republic of Letters within a broad social context, with the opportunity for our users to contribute to the growth in depth and breadth of the resource through digital publication of annotations, biographies and editions of further primary documents. We are sure that this seal of approval will further raise EE’s profile and encourage participation by the scholarly community.” . . .

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