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I am a doctoral student at the Department of the History of Science and Ideas. My research interests focus on the cultural and intellectual history of the nineteenth century, with particular emphasis upon questions of canonization and memory-making. My thesis project explores the growing number of nineteenth-cemtury figures who sought to make their own monuments and capture the commemorative attention of future publics - a phenomenon I characterize as self-monumentalizing practices.
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I am a doctoral student at the Department of the History of Science and Ideas. My research interests focus on the cultural and intellectual history of the nineteenth century, with particular emphasis upon questions of canonization and memory-making. I am especially interested in the interrelations between the changing media landscape of the early nineteenth century, and the new memorial practices and systems of recognition that came into being in a period increasingly preoccupied with questions of permanence and lasting value. I explore this in my thesis project via the phenomenon of self-monumentalizing practices that I contend emerged in this period, as a growing number of nineteenth-cemtury figures sought to make their own monuments and capture the commemorative attention of future publics.
I have been working on my thesis at the department since 2012. My educational background is from the UK, where I was born and brought up (near Brighton). I studied my undergraduate degree in History and English Literature at the University of Sussex (B.A. 2003), while I completed my Master's degree in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge (M.Phil 2005). Since moving to Sweden in 2005, I worked for a number of years as a teacher of History and English Literatre for the IB Diploma programme at various international schools (in Helsingborg and Stockholm), before resuming my academic studies in Uppsala. I have since taught various undergraduate seminars and supervised essays relating to questions of canonicity and the “classic text” in intellectual history.
In my ongoing research project, provisionally titled Staging Legacy: Self-Monumentalizing Practices in Romantic Britain, I explore the various attempts of nineteenth-century figures to make their own monuments and shape posthumous reception. While such matters have previously been touched upon by literary scholars of the Romantic period, I turn to examples from other cultural locations beyond the literary sphere - the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, the architect sir John Soane, and the artist Benjamin Haydon – to historicize the emergence of these practices as a broader phenomenon. I use this series of case studies centred upon Georgian London to pursue questions about who might engage in such attempts to stage legacy, how they might go about doing so, and in relation to what broader system of recognition.
Drawing on sociological and materialist frameworks for approaching the making of memory, I develop the argument that self-monumentalizing practices were part of the emerging habitus of the self-made man. In the energetic strategies, exertions and material practices of these men, I suggest we can see the workings of a new, distinctly modern immortality regime, in which, as Bentham proclaimed, “every man would be his own monument”.
In making these arguments, my thesis provides a new account of the making of memory in the nineteenth century. But beyond new historical knowledge, I also seek to cast a historicizing glance on various aspects of the present, particularly in relation to recent research examining the production of digital memory. Where much of this work posits today's media-related changes as the unprecedented and unique results of the new world of digital media, I want to nuance such claims by making parallels with the effects on memorial practices in an earlier period of rapid media change, as the “age of books” and a cultural landscape dominated by print media came into being.
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