Room 11, Englisches Seminar
Englisches Seminar, Uni Basel
Invisible Architecture and the Nineteenth-Century City: Mobility, Concealment, Transparency
Beginning from the depiction of the Crystal Palace in Gissing’s The Nether World (1889), this talk identifies mobility, concealment and transparency as the three major elements of the relationship between architecture and literature as it developed in the nineteenth century. I propose the term ‘invisible architecture’ to describe this relationship, which is not seen as a teleological movement towards modernism, but a dynamic combination of different forms of invisibility operating in the urban spaces and texts of the nineteenth century. I suggest, with reference to Dostoevsky and Chernychevsky, that nineteenth-century texts can challenge a modernist chronology of increasing transparency. Instead, we might think about the ways hidden, mobile and transparent spaces or architectures, from the underground cellar to the railway and the glass department store, uncannily share features with one another, even when they appear at first to be opposites. In arguing for a reorientation of perspective in this way, the talk seeks to develop conceptual tools whose value extends beyond the immediate reference points of nineteenth-century European literature.
Dr Ben Moore is Assistant Professor in English Literature at the University of Amsterdam. His first monograph, Invisible Architecture in Nineteenth-Century Literature: Rethinking Urban Modernity, is due to be published by Edinburgh University Press in 2023. He has published articles in journals including MLR, Victorian Literature and Culture, Modernism/modernity, the Gaskell Journal and Journal of Victorian Culture, as well as various book chapters, reviews and encyclopaedia entries. Current work includes a project on the human in realist novels of the later nineteenth century, and another on money in literature since 1821. He is Reviews Editor for the Gaskell Journal.
If you would like to obtain more information on this guest lecture or attend the talk, please contact Thomas Manson.
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