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Imagining low life before the East End's invention, c. 1780s to 1840s

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Imagining low life before the East End's invention, c. 1780s to 1840s


Londres, London, East End, histoire urbaine, eighteenth century, nineteenth century, dix-huitième siècle, dix-neuvième siècle, pauvreté, quartier défavorisé, Gatrell Vic, imaginaire


Conference description by the organisers :

The conference will deal with cities throughout the world, with papers examining the networks of cities and their role in cultural formation, the relations between cities, territories and larger political units, the ideologies and cosmologies of the city and what distinguishes the city or town from other forms of settlement or ways of life.
Paper abstract from the organisers :
This paper looks at East London life before Victorian observers 'invented', 'ideologically constructed', 'mythicised', or 'problematised' the 'East End' (as the fashionable phrases nowadays go). It sets aside the Victorian judgements and anxieties through which many historians still filter their views of East London and, without denying its deprivations, it speculates how best we might treat its 'low life' in its own and more positive terms.

Recalling Dr Johnson's advice to Boswell in 1783 to go with curious eye and philosophic mind to Wapping the better to measure London's 'wonderful extent and variety', the paper focuses on the century after 1750 or so, to wonder what it was that outsiders were responding to when they described East Enders as 'happy', and allowed them their own exuberant vitality.
  Vic Gatrell is a retired Professor of History at the University of Cambridge.   NB : This recording may be streamed via your web browser or opened in iTunes.   See also recordings of the other conference sessions: Ideas of the metropolis What is a city? The English experience Cities and peripheries Imagining the East End in literature and social survey, 1880-1990 Multicultural London: Past, present and future. A history and policy discussion  


Vic Gatrell


2 July 2009