Date of Graduation
My dissertation tracks the development of London's built environment through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, identifying the shared conceptual and narrative techniques employed in building literature (construction manuals, architectural treatises, and urban improvement tracts) and in literature about buildings (plays, poems, and novels) to discuss the evolution, dissemination, and significance of contemporary debates over urban expansion, urban planning, and spatiality. The first two chapters examine how literary texts proved instrumental in shaping debates over London's urban expansion at key historical junctures: the late-sixteenth century when London's population explosion triggered a series of anti-building proclamations and during the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of 1666. Consequently, I suggest in chapters on Stow's Survey of London and Defoe's Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain that these texts not only catalogued the extent of London's growth but responded with generic innovations to influence the design of urban development. The second half of my dissertation analyzes the material construction and literary representation of the Royal Exchange both before and after the Fire and the construction and success of the London Foundling Hospital between 1740 and 1760 to argue that these buildings mark a crucial cultural transformation in the understanding of the relationship between the built environment and social relations. Making extensive use of architectural plans, treatises, and documents in the British Library and the London Metropolitan Archives, I suggest that both architects and administrators self-consciously deployed architectural design and planning to negotiate tensions over economic expansion and emerging nationalism. The literary representations of these buildings in plays, poems, and periodicals provided the interpretative framework to promote and challenge those narratives. My study demonstrates that London's built environment, as socially-produced space, was perceived, understood, and discussed in increasingly sophisticated ways that challenge the widespread assumption that dialectical theories of spatiality and social relations are a late-twentieth century phenomenon.
Ramsey, Rachel Dawn, "â€œA mad intemperanceâ€¦of buildingâ€: The literary construction of early modern London." (2001). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 9625.