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University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Fall 2007 Lecture Series

in 18th- and 19th-Century Historical Fiction

(Literature, Film, Theater, and Art)


James Potter, Ph.D., Professor of Architecture, jpotter2@unl.edu, 472-9240

Rumiko Handa, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor of Architecture, rhanda1@unl.edu, 472-0240





This lecture series will show how depictions of buildings were incorporated into eighteenth- and nineteenth-century historical fiction.  The series will feature five prominent scholars from Great Britain who specialize in architecture, literature, theater, film, and art.


The period from mid-eighteenth to nineteenth century of the western world is widely acknowledged as that of historical consciousness.  The modern historiography was born, and at the same time historical fiction took roots in literature, theater, art, and architecture. Interestingly, serious studies of what happened in the past played an integral part in creating fictional representations.  We see this in the case of Sir Walter Scott with medieval chronicles, Charles Kean with Richard II´s portraits by the monarch´s contemporary, Paul Delaroche with Tudor period furniture, or A. W. N. Pugin with Gothic buildings.  It was also the time in which visual images captivated a large audience´s interest in history. John Boydell´s and Robert Bowyer´s ideas to illustrate Shakespeare´s oeuvre and David Hume´s History of Great Britain materialized respectively as the Shakespeare Gallery and the History Gallery in London´s Pall Mall during the last decades of the eighteenth century.  Engravings made from the paintings were published in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Textual and visual depictions of historical buildings helped create the sense of a particular time period, and many authors chose to live in historical buildings, or, in cases such as Horace Walpole, altered existing buildings to suit their historical imagination. Antiquarian, architectural, or archaeological societies were established in practically all localities, whose purpose was to survey historical artifacts. Architects engaged themselves in topographical studies of buildings, based on which they designed pseudo-historical buildings and stage sceneries.


In addition to delivering a public lecture, each lecturer will participate in an interdisciplinary Honors/Architecture seminar at UNL (UHON395H/ARCH597/897), and provide an article for inclusion in a book to be published by the University of Nebraska Press in spring, 2010.  To explore further the relationships between architecture and literature, film, theater, and art, visit our database project, "Architecture in the Humanities" at http://unllib.unl.edu/aith.


When: Monday evenings (September 10, 24, October 8, 29, November 12, 2007) from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln City Campus Union Auditorium.

Sponsors: University of Nebraska Lincoln College of Architecture, Research Council, Honors Program, Architecture Program, Convocations Committee, College of Arts & Sciences, Graduate Studies, Undergraduate Studies, College of Fine & Performing Arts, University Libraries, Dept. of English, Dept. of Modern Languages & Literatures, Dept. of History, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts



Presenters and Presentations for Lecture Series


September 10: Ian Christie, "SCREENING LITERARY LONDON" - With the establishment of major new film studios around London in the 1930s, the production design of British films took an architectural turn, influenced by distinguished immigrants such as Alfred Junge and Vincent Korda. This lecture will survey how pioneer British designers, such as Carmen Dillon, John Bryan and their pupil John Box created an ´English school´ of design for the screen, which in turn supported the flowering of literary adaptation as British cinema´s distinctive genre.

Professor Ian Christie, a Fellow of the British Academy, is Professor of Film and Media History in the School of History of Art, Film, and Visual Media of Birkbeck College, University of London.  He has written extensively on Russian and British cinema, especially on the work of Eisenstein and of Powell and Presburger; and is also co-editor of the regularly up-dated Scorsese on Scorsese. He has also contributed to many exhibitions, including Spellbound: Art and Film (Hayward, 1996) and Modernism: Designing a New World (V&A, 2006). A frequent broadcaster and DVD commentator, he co-produced a series for BBC Television in 1994, The Last Machine: Early Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World, presented by Terry Gilliam. In 2006, he was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge University, with a series of lectures entitled, ´The Cinema Has Not Yet Been Invented´. He is currently working on the early history of British cinema and on the challenge of the digital revolution.


September 24: Stephen Bann, "NORMAN ABBEY AS ROMANTIC MISE-EN-SCENE: THE VISUALIZATION OF ST. GEORGES DE BOSCHERVILLE" - From the early 1820s, interest in the French heritage of medieval church architecture developed apace. In part because of its early history under the English crown, Normandy was a favored place for the study of such monuments. The Abbey of St Georges de Boscherville, near Rouen, was regarded as a particularly perfect specimen of the Anglo-Norman style. This lecture traces the diverse ways in which it was evoked and described in a variety of contemporary print sources, and leads to some general hypotheses about the morphology of such images of architecture in the Romantic period.

Professor Stephen Bann, a Fellow of the British Academy, is Professor of Art History at the University of Bristol.  Between 2000 and 2004 he served as President of the Comité international d´histoire de l´art, consortium of thirty-three national committees of history of art. Professor Bann´s research interests include museum history and theory; historical representation in painting and other visual media; twentieth century avant-garde movement; Post-modern media and installation art; and land art and landscape theory. His Parallel Lines: Printmakers, Painters and Photographers in Nineteenth Century France (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001) was awarded the R.H.Gapper Prize for French Studies in 2002.  The importance of Professor Bann´s work can be assessed by the publication of About Stephen Bann (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), a collection of essays written by a group of eminent scholars.


October 8: Michael Alexander, "MEDIEVALISM: THE MIDDLE AGES IN MODERN ENGLAND"- Walter Scott imagined the past in settings which owe more to history than to fantasy.  The word "medieval," first recorded in 1827, began to replace "Gothic."  Shortly after Scott´s death, Parliament chose to rebuild its Houses in "the national style": a style which reasserted the medieval origin of the English monarchy, church and government.  The lecture will draw its illustrations from the texts of Shakespeare, Milton, Scott, Keats, Hardy and Stevenson.

Professor Michael Alexander is the former Berry Professor and current Honorary Professor of English Literature at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Among his extensive publications are Beowulf: A Verse Translation (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1973, 2001), The Canterbury Tales: The First Fragment (Penguin, 1996), The Earliest English Poems (Penguin, 1966, 1977, 1991), and A History of English Literature (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2000, 2007).  Professor Alexander´s lecture will draw from his most recent publication Medievalism: The Middle Ages in Modern England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007). 


October 29: Andrew Ballantyne, "SHOPS AND SUBJECTS: DICKENS AND ZOLA" - Charles Dickens´s The Old Curiosity Shop (1841) and Emile Zola´s Au Bonheur des Dames (1883) are two nineteenth-century novels that name shops in their titles. They each sold widely, and tell us something about the quality of life for certain groups of people in nineteenth-century London and Paris. In each novel, the identity of the proprietor – the grandfather of Dickens´s heroine or the young attractive widower whom Zola´s heroine is to marry – is established and clarified with reference to his shop.  In each instance, architecture acts as a concrete embodiment of the attitudes and drives that animate the character and shape his decisions.

Professor Andrew Ballantyne, Professor of Architecture at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, is the Chair of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.  He has worked with archaeologists surveying a Byzantine settlement in Greece.  More recently, his research is focused on architectural theory and he is currently embarking on a major study of mock-Tudor architecture.   His extensive publications include Deleuze and Guattari for Architects (London: Routledge, 2007), Architecture Theory: A Reader in Philosophy and Culture (London and New York: Continuum, 2005), Architectures: Modernism and After (New York: Blackwell, 2004), and Architecture as Experience: Radical Change in Spatial Practice (with Dana Arnold.  London: Routledge, 2004), and a best seller, Architecture: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2002).


November 12: Richard Schoch, "PERFORMING HISTORY ON THE VICTORIAN STAGE" - In nineteenth-century Britain, the theatre was a powerful agent of historical consciousness because it could realize the past with immediacy greater than that of literature, painting, museum collections or photography.  The key means for the persuasive performance of history was archaeologically correct scenery: the precise, detailed recreation (usually in painting, but sometimes in three-dimensions) of specific buildings and architectural remains.  Nowhere was this devotion to historically accurate mise-en-scéne more apparent than in Victorian productions of Shakespeare, which afforded opportunities to recreate onstage sites ranging from the Tower of London to the Piazza San Marco in Venice.  In this lecture, we will look at how the astonishing accuracy of theatrical scenery and the presence of live actors recreating legendary events collectively established the Victorian theatre as a place where the traditional parts of history were reclaimed and restored for a mass popular audience.
Professor Richard Schoch is Professor of the History of Culture and Director of the Graduate School for Humanities and Social Sciences at Queen Mary, University of London. His publications include: Shakespeare´s Victorian Stage: Performing History in the Theatre of Charles Kean (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Not Shakespeare: Bardolatry and Burlesque in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Professor Schoch is the recipient of fellowships from the American Society for Theatre Research, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the University of Texas at Austin´s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Leverhulme Trust, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Whiting Foundation. His books have been short-listed for the Theatre Book Prize and the Barnard Hewitt Award.