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Urban Nostalgia and Romantic Modernity: London in the Early Nineteenth Century

Hodgetts, Lucy (2016) Urban Nostalgia and Romantic Modernity: London in the Early Nineteenth Century. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the concept of nostalgia as depicted in visual and literary representations of London published in the early nineteenth century. It aims to expand our current understanding of the varying definitions and uses of nostalgia present in literature of the period. Rather than confining itself to the well-served notion of ‘Romantic London’, this thesis focuses upon the period falling between ‘Romanticism’ and ‘Victorianism’, and in doing so broadens current critical understanding of London’s literary history. Chapter one outlines three modes of viewing the urban landscape (the prospect view, the panorama, and the picturesque) and analyses their uses to Cyrus Redding and Pierce Egan in containing the social tensions between history and modernity visible in the city’s landscape. Chapter two considers the affective metaphor of national ruin in Anna Laetitia Barbauld and Mary Shelley’s futuristic visions of London, and compares these descriptions of imperial decay with George Cruikshank’s illustrations of domestic ruin wrought by the construction of new suburban housing. Chapter three offers an alternative definition of ruin by focussing upon localised pockets of the city overlooked by urban improvement, and examines nostalgic illustrations of lost London neighbourhoods by John Thomas Smith and William Hone. Chapter four examines how antiquarian representations of the London poor (namely prints, engravings, paintings, and slang dictionaries) use nostalgia as a strategy of containment, reducing the poor to stock figures or anecdotes of London life in a polite literary format. Chapter five compares the narrative techniques and publishing strategies of Charles Lamb, William Hone, and Leigh Hunt in their appeal to an ideal readership characterised by convivial sociability and common London nostalgia. The conclusion brings together the many temporalities of nostalgia at play in these texts and suggests possible routes for tracing the afterlives of urban nostalgia into the twenty-first century.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: Ms Lucy Hodgetts
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 08:59
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2017 10:33
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17230

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