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Frozen music: English Romantic writings and the architecture of the city, 1811-1830

Lai, C.T.-Y.; (2011) Frozen music: English Romantic writings and the architecture of the city, 1811-1830. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis explores the implications of architecture in English Romanticism. Writings and buildings can be connected by virtue of certain affinities. Specifically, literary texts and architectural structures respond to a common set of cultural and socio-political conditions. I have largely confined my study to metropolitan architecture; in so doing, I aim to contribute to the on-going dialogue about the importance of the city in Romanticism. The architectural changes that took place in London in the opening decades of the nineteenth century occurred alongside the major shifts in social, political, economic and intellectual life. The volatility of the age is reflected in the Romantic use of architectural imagery and metaphor to illustrate different forms of instability in various contexts: the instability of power, of personal life and of art forms (whether written, built or painted). In other words, the Romantic engagement with the architectural is a representation of, or reaction to, processes of change. Crucially, the building boom in the early 1800s, notwithstanding its importance to the development of London, ironically intensified the Romantic obsession with impermanence, and the literary or artistic use of architecture is frequently characterized by the tension between construction and collapse. Buildings, as material artefacts of collective and personal history, can act as records of an age, a nation or an individual life. This thesis examines architecture on two levels, firstly in relation to national identity, and secondly in relation to the individual subject. The discussions aim to highlight the socio-political implications of certain buildings, as well as the affective side of the built environment, as portrayed in imaginative writings that communicate an intensely personal understanding of the changing city and its architecture. Material drawn from literary works and the history of actual buildings is woven together with extracts from periodicals and architectural theory to document the relevance of architecture to Romanticism. The selected works of a number of authors and artists, including Keats, De Quincey, Shelley, Soane and Turner, are read in relation to the literature-architecture interconnections.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Frozen music: English Romantic writings and the architecture of the city, 1811-1830
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Copyright restricted material has been removed from the e-thesis.
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Language and Literature

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