Senior Lecturer, School of Art History


Dr O’Rourke is currently working on a book (funded by the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Society of Edinburgh) that examines how late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century European artists engaged with changing ideas about the history of the natural world — and how these ideas shaped, in turn, their understanding of human history. Focusing on a number of artists from Britain, France, and Germany, it explores how landscape painting was embedded in debates about mining, geological history, forest management, environmental catastrophe, and resource extraction. A recent article on German geology, deep time, and landscape painting published in Representations can be found here. She has also hosted podcasts that feature interviews with historians and climate scientists about the past, present, and future of the Scottish and Irish landscapes. Initial episodes can be found here. Finally, Dr O’Rourke works with contemporary artists whose work engages with energy, resource extraction, geology, and other natural phenomena.

Selected publications

“Staring into the Abyss of Time,” Representations 148 (Fall 2019): 30-56.

“Searching for Selfhood in Romantic Landscape Painting,” Art History 44 no. 1 ( 2021), 197-99.

“Girodet’s Galvanized Bodies,” Art History 41 no. 5 (2018): 868-893.