CfP Edited Volume History of the Laki Eruption (1783-84) in Europe and Beyond (abstracts due: January 2, 2023)

Nicolas Maughan's picture

Call for Papers for an Edited Volume on the History of the Laki Eruption (1783-1784) in Europe and Beyond

Dear all,

 The year 1783 was an annus mirabilis for many parts of the northern hemisphere and an annus horribilis for parts of Europe. The weather in the summer of 1783 was characterized by an unusual, dry, sulfuric, and long-lasting fog and violent lightning storms. In Western Europe, it was a very hot summer; in other parts, the summer was unseasonably cold. The winters following were exceptionally cold, with the winter of 1783/1784 also experiencing several ice drifts and flooding along several European rivers. The exceptional weather was not the most horrible thing that made 1783 particularly memorable. The critical impact was attributed to various diseases and the high mortality of humans and domestic animals. Contemporaries already suggested that suddenly soared diseases and excess deaths were related to poor air quality. At the time, many different theories were in circulation about the cause of this unusual weather. Today we know that a volcanic eruption in Iceland was responsible. The eruption of the Laki fissure lasted from 8 June 1783 to 7 February 1784. It released a volume of lava that was singular in the last millennium and huge volumes of volcanic gases, including sulfur dioxide. Additionally, a negative phase of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and a positive phase of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) occurred in the aftermath of the eruption. A recent climate modeling study has indicated that both might have been triggered by the asymmetric cooling of the northern hemisphere as a result of the Laki eruption.

 Timo MYLLYNTAUS (Turku School of Economics, Turku, Finland) and Nicolas MAUGHAN (Aix-Marseille University, Marseille, France) are preparing an edited volume (Springer or Cambridge University Press) on the history of the Laki eruption, partly based on contributions by the participants of a double session ("What Did Blood Red Sunsets of 1783 – 1784 Mean to Europe?") in the European Society for Environmental History (ESEH) conference in Bristol last July.

 For this edited volume, we are looking for additional case studies exploring the historical impacts of the Icelandic 1783-1784 Laki eruption on different parts of Europe and the northern hemisphere.

  Topics can be focused on, but are not limited to, the following aspects:

• the perception of the strange weather in the summer of 1783 and the next few months

• the impacts of the dry fog on the vegetation

• the impacts of the dry fog on human (or more-than-human) health, morbidity, epidemics and/or the birth and mortality rate

• the impacts on agriculture, food prices, nutrition, employment, poor relief and/or the economy

• the impacts on migration and emigration, social tensions, unrest, protests, mutinies, and political changes

• the history of science, art, painting, religions, and ideas, folk beliefs and worldviews, that this event triggered (discussions about the origin of the strange weather, etc.)

• the colder-than-usual seasons following the eruption (for example, the cold winters of 1783/1784 or 1784/1785)

 In particular, we encourage case studies from northern Europe, the Mediterranean, southern and eastern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia (China and Japan). We also encourage early-career scholars (including doctoral scholars) to apply.

 We are now asking for expressions of interest to this edited volume.

 Please submit an abstract (max. 500 words) about the paper that you would like to write on the history of the Laki eruption and a short CV (all in one PDF) by January 2 2023 to co-editors Nicolas MAUGHAN ( and Timo MYLLYNTAUS (

The volume editors will let you know their decision by mid-January 2023.

The full papers will be due by January 1 2024 (provisional date).

Thank you and we look forward to your abstracts!