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Publication Detail
West End Rambling: Architectural Space in London 1800-30
Abstract
This paper is a theoretical and historical study which explores aspects of gendered space through the early nineteenth century urban ramble. It is argued that the activity of rambling represents a dominant mode of urban masculinity concerned with the physical and conceptual pursuit of pleasure, specifically sexual pleasure. The male rambler constructs his masculinity socially and spatially, through gendered codes of vision and movement. The author's concern as a feminist architectural historian is to develop methodologies which describe, explain and critique how space is gendered and gender spatialized. The notion of gendered space, of concern to architects, geographers, anthropologists, historians and cultural critics alike, has, despite differences in methodological approach, tended to focus on critiquing the paradigm of the separate spheres, 'deconstructing' this binary, showing its ideological underpinnings in patriarchy and capitalism. The author's work in architectural history has been informed by these strategies, but suggests new ways for thinking about the gendering of space as physical and conceptual urban movements of display, consumption and exchange. The ramble featured in a number of key texts published in the 1820s, including Pierce Egan's Life in London (1821), represents London as a gendered place of pleasure and enjoyment. This paper follows the route of the rambler, focusing on a number of spaces in the upper class and masculine district around St. James's - the Royal Opera House, Crockford's Gambling House, and several streets in the vicinity - the Haymarket, Pall Mall, Regent Street, Bond Street and St. James's Street. The ramble provides us with a conceptual map of urban space, one which rethinks the city as a series of gendered spaces of flow rather than a series of discrete architectural elements.
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