Urban Aesthetic Environmentalism in the Late 19th Century

From Beauty to Duty: Urban Aesthetic Environmentalism in the Late 19th Century

2nd session of CEFRES in-house seminar
Through the presentation of works in progress, CEFRES’s Seminar aims at raising and discussing issues about methods, approaches or concepts, in a multidisciplinary spirit, allowing everyone to confront her or his own perspectives with the research presented.

Location: CEFRES Library
Tuesday, 7th of November
Contact / To register:
Discussant: Stanislav Holubec (Institut of History of the Czech Academy of Sciences)

Júlia Čížová (CEFRES / Slovak Academy of Sciences)


In the late 19th century, European towns and cities were spaces of complex interactions unlimited by national borders. In response to industrialization, urbanization as well as environmental degradation, civic embellishment societies were formed. Their efforts in greening cities and developing cultural and social infrastructure played a significant role in shaping urban environments and defining aesthetic ideals. Proliferation of this phenomenon across both Europe and America suggests a shift in the perceptions and value attributed to nature and landscape. This topic is often raised in the context of historical roots of environmentalism and it is a part of my dissertation research, in which I focus on the history of Slovak environmentalism in the 20th century. To what extent can embellishment practices be considered predecessors of modern environmentalism? What role did aesthetic appreciation play in shaping attitudes to nature? The seminar will address the relationship between urban communities and nature, various aspects of embellishment practices and their influence on later conservation initiatives.

See the complete program of 2023–2024 seminar here.