2017 journal article
Wagnerian Climatic Fantasies: Sound, Space, Breath
European Romantic Review, 28(3), 343–348.
ABSTRACTIn Richard Wagner’s 1850 essay “Art and Climate,” the composer implicates climatic engagement as crucial to cultural and artistic progress. He critiques the relationship mankind had built with the natural world, arguing that civilization had developed counter to the deterministic influence of climate; instead of respecting nature, the vices of humanity had led it to live in opposition to beneficial climatic influences. Wagner casts his “artwork of the future” as “taking account of … the natural characteristics of [Germanic] native skies”; it would channel the Teutonic climate lost to civilization and, through exposure to it in the theater, engender a new social order. This essay explores the foundations of Wagner’s climatic determinism, their manifestations in his dramatic works and relationship to his atmospheric technologies for his theater in Bayreuth, Germany, and the didactic motivations behind these theories and practices.