Alison O'Byrne

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Profile

Biography

BA, PhD (York)

My research interests are in the literature and culture of the long eighteenth century, with a specific focus on debates about and representations of the city in the period.

Research

Overview

I am currently completing a book provisionally titled The Art of Walking in London: Representing the Eighteenth-Century City. I am especially interested in the wide range of uses to which walking is put by writers and artists in a variety of genres, including early guidebooks to and pocket maps of London, ramble and ‘spy’ narratives, and the various prints and ‘guides’ which satirically present the pitfalls of pedestrianism in the urban environment. My account of pedestrianism in London focuses on early eighteenth-century views of the city, literary and visual satires of St. James’s Park, discussions and debates about urban improvement, and literary pseudo-guidebooks to the metropolis, in order to demonstrate how accounts of walking in the city were bound up with discussions of politeness and public magnificence, and to explorations of class, gender, and national identity. I am also interested in the ways in which writers and artists have re-imagined John Gay’s 1716 poem Trivia, and my project ends with a discussion of the ways in which early nineteenth-century writers and artists returned to and reworked Gay’s account of ‘the art of walking the streets of London ’.

My interest in tourism in London forms the basis of a second project, a history of the guidebook to London.

Contact Details

Room: K/173A
Telephone: 01904 324992 
alison.obyrne@york.ac.uk 
Department: English and Related Literature