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Nineteenth-century London and Paris as Cultural Capitals

The emergence of London and Paris as European cultural capitals in the opening decades of the nineteenth century found expression in new building types to house forms of urban entertainment and changes in practices of viewing. Here I want to consider the ways in which London’s arcades, dioramas, panoramas and guidebooks cohere to produce a narrative of the city. These modes of engagement with the metropolis proliferated across all the major European capitals and were part of the commodification of cities in this period of intensive capitalistic growth. Any exploration of London as a cultural capital (or as cultural capital) must take into account this broader pan European phenomenon. The aim here is to benefit from the points of contact between London and Paris as regards the consumption of the city as cultural capital, and ultimately its possession, by a range of publics. My frame is the Benjaminian notion of the city as fragment or miniature as played out in his Arcades Project. In this way my comparative history does not comprise an analysis of the two cities following the usual typologies such as infrastructure, demography and so forth. Instead, it offers a way of exploring London through the historical methodology used by Benjamin which drew directly on, and was developed from, his evidence for the evocation of Paris in the nineteenth century. 

Guest:Dana Arnold

Professor of Architectural History and Theory at the University of Middlesex,UK

Dana Arnold is Professor of Architectural History and Theory at the University of Middlesex. She is Guest Professor, International Research Centre for Chinese Cultural Heritage Conservation, Tianjin University, China and Honorary Professor in the Faculty of Architecture at the Middle East Technical University, Ankara where she leads a British Academy funded research project that looks at architectural interaction between diverse cultures.

Her monographs include: Rural Urbanism: London landscapes in the early nineteenth century (2006); Reading Architectural History (2002); Re-presenting the Metropolis: Architecture, Urban Experience and Social Life in London 1800-1840 (2000). She is also the author of the bestselling Art History: A Very Short Introduction (2004), which has been translated in to many languages. Her recent edited and co-edited volumes include: Art History: Contemporary Perspectives on Method (2010), Biographies and Space (2007) and Rethinking Architectural Historiography (2006). She was editor of the international journal Art History 1997-2002 and edits two book series New Interventions in Art History and Anthologies in Art History. Her forthcoming book: The Spaces of the Hospital is to be published by Routledge.


Host:Lu Yongyi

Professor of Tongji University

Time:  18:00 pm, 2017/10/24

Room: B1,Building B 


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