Inventing Urban Modernity: Building the Present by Constructing the Past

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

City-Centric Symposium, 23rd June 2014

‘For heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making
it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh.’
– Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway

The modern city is the site of continual destruction and construction, disintegration and renewal, death and rebirth, an environment endlessly productive of new ‘presents’. But where in these transient moments might we locate the city’s past? Does it reside in the palimpsest of archaeological remains buried beneath our feet? In monumental form, as statues, memorials, graves? In representations of the city, cartographic or artistic? And how might we understand the modern city as growing out of and/or in relation to this past or ‘pasts’? Does the present reify and repeat the past? Does it reimagine and reinvent it? Or does it obscure and efface it? Featuring keynote addresses from Professor Patrick Wright (KCL), Professor Peter Mandler (Cambridge), and Dr Matthew Beaumont (UCL), this symposium…

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