A Field on Fire. The Future of Environmental History

Environmental History

Mark D. Hersey and Ted Steinberg

Inspired by the pioneering work of environmental historian Donald Worster, A Field on Fire reflects on the past and future of environmental history. In wide-ranging essays by leading environmental historians from the United States, Europe, and China, it 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.

The book is organized 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. The essays aim to provoke a discussion on the future of the field, pointing to untapped and underdeveloped avenues ripe for further exploration. A bold thinker like Worster has inspired bold challenges to a new generation of environmental historians on everything from capitalism and the Anthropocene to war and wilderness. The book 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.

Worster advised all environmental historians to get a little mud on their boots. As the mud dries and you sit by the fire, you can open this book and mull over how history can help us come to grips with humankind’s relationship with the planet.

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