ABOUT THIS BOOK
A frank and engaging exploration of the burgeoning academic field of environmental history
Inspired by the pioneering work of preeminent environmental historian Donald Worster, the contributors to A Field on Fire: The Future of Environmental History reflect on the past and future of this discipline. Featuring wide-ranging essays by leading environmental historians from the United States, Europe, and China, the collection challenges scholars to rethink some of their orthodoxies, inviting them to approach familiar stories from new angles, to integrate new methodologies, and to think creatively about the questions this field is well positioned to answer.
Worster’s groundbreaking research serves as the organizational framework for the collection. Editors Mark D. Hersey and Ted Steinberg have arranged the book into three sections corresponding to the primary concerns of Worster’s influential scholarship: the problem of natural limits, the transnational nature of environmental issues, and the question of method. Under the heading “Facing Limits,” five essays explore the inherent tensions between democracy, technology, capitalism, and the environment. The “Crossing Borders” section underscores the ways in which environmental history moves easily across national and disciplinary boundaries. Finally, “Doing Environmental History” invokes Worster’s work as an essayist by offering self-conscious reflections about the practice and purpose of environmental history.
The essays aim to provoke a discussion on the future of the field, pointing to untapped and underdeveloped avenues ripe for further exploration. A forward thinker like Worster presents bold challenges to a new generation of environmental historians on everything from capitalism and the Anthropocene to war and wilderness. This engaging volume includes a very special afterword by one of Worster’s oldest friends, the eminent intellectual historian Daniel Rodgers, who has known Worster for close to fifty years.