Research Stream


Stephanie Trigg
The University of Melbourne


Fire and Affect: Shaping Modern Emotions

This project considers some of the emotions associated with catastrophic fires, from the burning of ancient, medieval and early modern cities through to recent Australian bushfires. It pays special attention to the sense of wonder and awe generated by the capacity of fire to transform the familiar and the everyday, even in the aftermath of apocalyptic and tragic events.

The Great Fire of London: 1666 Painter unknown.

Essays, articles and conference papers from this project have explored the representation of fire in a number of different contexts. Fire is one of the four elements and can be read in the context of both material philosophy and the changing historical contexts of eco-criticism. But specific historical fires, such as the great fire which devastated London in 1666, generate very specific socio-historical and emotional responses, depending on current political and religious contexts. In contemporary Australia, awareness of the effects of climate change and the different practices of fire-management, as well as the devastating effects of bushfires on individuals and communities, constitute a potent emotional topic. Another important theme for this project is the effect of fire on the natural and the human world, with a special focus on the effects of fire on glass objects. This has led Stephanie to develop a new project in tandem with the Emotions and Objects research cluster and the Manchester-Melbourne Humanities Consortium on the cultural and emotional history of glass.

The project has strong links with Grace Moore’s 'Arcady in Flames' project; and is part of the Shaping the Modern Program of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions.


Trigg, S. J. ‘Vitreous Archives: Fire and Transfigured Objects’. In Fire Stories, edited by Grace Moore. Punctum Books, forthcoming 2019).

Trigg, S. J. ‘Samuel Pepys and the Great Fire of London: Trauma and Emotion, Private and Public’. In Disaster, Death and the Emotions in the Shadow of the Apocalypse, 1400-1700, edited by J. Spinks and C. Zika, pp. 341–56. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. View preview.

Trigg, S. J. and J. J. Cohen. ‘Fire’. postmedieval: a journal of medieval cultural studies 4 (2013): 80–92. Special issue, ‘Ecomaterialism’. doi:10.1057/pmed.2012.40

Conference Papers

Trigg, S. J. ‘“Þe borȝ brittened and brent to brondeȝ and askez”: The City on Fire in Middle English Literature’, Biennial London Chaucer Conference: Science, Magic and Technology, 10–11 July 2015, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, University of London.

Trigg, S. J. ‘Vitreous Temporality’, invited plenary, ‘“Strange Matter”: How Things Disrupt Time’, Freie Universität Berlin, 23–25 August, 2018.

Image: Great Fire of London, 1666.  Painter unknown. Wikimedia Commons.