Ruin nation: antiquarian objects and political narratives in the long eighteenth century
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] "Ruin Nation: Antiquarian Objects and Political Narratives in the Long Eighteenth Century" examines representations of architectural ruins and archaeological artifacts in Britain between the end of the Early Modern period and the beginning of the Romantic period. I argue that antiquarianism - the examination, documentation, and collection of historical objects and ruined architecture - was far more ubiquitous in eighteenth-century British culture than scholars have traditionally assumed. Likewise, I draw into question the prevalent scholarly assumption that eighteenth-century antiquarianism was a patriotic pastime that buttressed the nationalist ideologies of the British Empire. By examining the representations of antiquarian methodologies and objects in literary, visual, and popular texts, this dissertation uncovers the political narratives that coalesced around the ruins of the past. Antiquarianism provided surprising opportunities to question the historical and contemporary ideologies of the British nation, and the examination of ruined sites and objects occasioned reflection on the decline and fall of historical nations (such as the Roman Empire) and the tenuous nature of the contemporary state. In other words, I argue that ruined objects engendered discourses on individual and national forms of ruin, and provided opportunities to question, critique, and in some cases, outright reject the political conventions and social practices of the long eighteenth century.
Table of Contents
"The most vocal of monuments:" numismatics, the novel of circulation, and the ruin of the nation -- Ruined women: antiquarian architecture and feminism in Sarah Scott's Millenium Hall -- "The manuscripts flew about like butterflies:" the politics of manuscript recovery and the castle of Otranto -- "A dead weight on the loins of national improvement:" The ruinous pleasures and politics of neoclassicism.
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