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Emergent Environments: Victorian Medievalism, the East, and the Reform of Cities'

Wednesday 1 May 2019, 5.30PM

Speaker(s): Corinna Wagner (Associate Professor of Literature and Visual Culture, University of Exeter)

This illustrated talk explores the relationship between ideas about the body and well-being, and the urban reform projects of the nineteenth century. We will examine how writers, artists, architects and others responded to the threats of a globalizing world in which goods, people, ideas and diseases circulated. Some thinkers combined medievalism and Enlightenment environmentalist ideas into utopian, and rather more practical plans for urban renewal. Others took the classical world as a model for turning supposedly unhealthy, insalubrious medieval neighbourhoods into rationalized, hygienic, progressive spaces. Nineteenth-century writers and photographers documented—and compared and contrasted—the ancient buildings and alleyways of such cities as Paris, London, Glasgow, and Beijing. They also documented the successes and losses of urban reform projects. An aim of this talk is to shed light on the complex (and sometimes unsettling) ways that we have recruited the medieval past in the name of modernity. Another aim is to consider how the Middle Ages has been conjured in our response to bodily, social and cultural ‘risk’ in global contexts.

Part of the CModS Medievalism and Imperial Modernity research strand.  Co-organized with the York Asia Research Network and Department of History. 

Location: Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building

Admission: All are welcome to attend.