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Conjuring the Real

The Role of Architecture in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Fiction

Edited by Rumiko Handa and James Potter , Foreword by Iain Borden

Publication Year: 2011

In the Western world the period from the mid-eighteenth through the nineteenth century was a time of expanding historical consciousness, a period that saw the birth of modern historiography, a profusion of historical novels and paintings, and the widespread production of historical plays. Historical buildings, in themselves already of intense interest to people of the day, also found their way into the multiplying cultural forms as concrete presences anchoring a novelist’s, poet’s, painter’s, or, eventually, filmmaker’s vision of the past. In recent years a number of blockbuster films have used historically significant buildings as filming locations because buildings can concretely bring a former era or fictional world closer to contemporary viewers. Conjuring the Real traces the genealogy of this representational role of architecture, going back through the history of film and then further in literature, art, and theater. The contributors examine the ways in which authors, artists, and stage managers used complex depictions of buildings to feed and shape the audience’s historical imagination. How can we understand the significance of architecture, not through its original design and construction but through the ways in which the public experiences, perceives, and understands it? The contributors pursue this question through the ideas of secondary portrayers of historical buildings, such as writers and artists, and then through the responses of those who read and view these creations.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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p. xiii-xiii

List of Illustrations

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p. x-x

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pp. ix-xii

Architecture is often thought of as the product of the work of architects and other professionals who work with built environments. Architects, it is thought, make architecture, and therefore they are considered the appropriate focus for any study of the subject. Who architects are, and what they do, becomes the definition of “architecture.” Similarly...

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pp. 1-20

In recent years we have seen a number of blockbuster films that use historically significant buildings as filming locations. Buildings that can fill the large screen with their concrete substance are key ingredients when it comes to bringing a former era or fictional world closer to contemporary viewers...

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1. “All That Life Can Afford”?: Perspectives on the Screening of Historic Literary London

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pp. 21-66

British cinema has often been characterized as a cinema of literary adaptation, with the implication that this tendency has diverted it from being “truly cinematic.” The suggestion is that if it were more like American cinema, committed to character-driven action, or, like French cinema, a vehicle for personal expression, it would be truer to the medium’s potential, and so more successful internationally. Despite...

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2. Architecture in Historical Fiction: A Historical and Comparative Study

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pp. 67-86

“Historical fiction” usually is understood to mean the new kind of prose fiction developed two centuries ago by Walter Scott, now known as the historical novel. Scott established the genre, so much so that a discussion of historical fiction would lack perspective without some consideration of Scott’s own output, which is both copious (twenty-five novels and romances) and various. “Historical fiction” may be...

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3. Norman Abbey asRomantic Mise-en-Sc

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pp. 87-117

One of the discoveries that has preoccupied me most in recent years was a travel journal compiled by the English gentleman and future collector of curiosities, John Bargrave, in 1645.1 This journal was compiled to recount a visit of a few months to the French city of Bourges during the spring and summer of that year, when the imminence of civil war in the writer’s home country had made it dangerous for a...

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4. Performing History on the Victorian Stage

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pp. 119-152

The popular culture of Victorian Britain, as described by a contemporary observer, comprised heterogeneous “exhibitions, galleries, and museums” devoted to “popular education in the young and in the adult.”1 These forms of respectable recreation became the “libraries of those who have no money to expend on books . . . [and] the travel of those that have no time to bestow on travel.” Among the “amusements...

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5. Shops and Subjects

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pp. 153-190

This essay makes use of literary texts in order to show some ways in which people identify with their surroundings, or are portrayed by novelists as being interfused with their surroundings. The focus is on buildings, rather than natural surroundings, and for the most part on commercial buildings associated with retail transactions, moving from a shopping street in St. Petersburg, to an old curiosity shop in...

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6. Pride and Prejudice: Establishing Historical Connections among the Arts

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pp. 191-214

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was first published on January 28, 1813. Originally titled First Impressions, the novel was written between October 1796 and August 1797.1 It initially was rejected for publication, but after the publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Austen revised the manuscript, initially titled First Impressions, probably between 1811...


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pp. 215-218

E-ISBN-13: 9780803235427
E-ISBN-10: 0803235429
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803217430
Print-ISBN-10: 0803217439

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 33 illustrations
Publication Year: 2011