IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Scott in Stone, Byron in Bronze: Statues, Photographs and Poets in the British Pantheon’
In the middle of the nineteenth century, Britain was in the grip of a protracted and contentious debate about who constituted the nation and what they shared. As successive Reform Acts more than doubled the electorate, many were concerned about how to build a new sense of cultural consensus. One way to do this was to create a pantheon of great men (and some women) from the past, in an effort to model and promote forms of cultural consensus for the present. A shared set of heroes would provide examples of civic virtue and artistic achievement for emulation. The new pantheon took shape in prominent buildings such as Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral, but it soon spread across the rapidly redeveloped cities of London and Edinburgh, and then across the nation as a whole. In this lecture, Professor Mole will examine how new statues of two writers: Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) were positioned in the emerging pantheon and remediated through the new technology of photography. He will show how their inclusion in the new pantheon gave material existence, in the present, to the past shared by the newly-enfranchised subjects of the Reformed nation.
This lecture is free and open to all.
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