Public Lecture Series

Urban and Elegant:
The Aesthetics of Living in the Modern European City

London, April – July 2017

The Public Lecture Series will provide an overview of the European topography of the so-called ‘elegant world’, an imaginary community of urban origin which gradually superseded predominated social and gender norms in the timeframe between the French and the Russian Revolutions.

As early as in the 18th Century, social origin already began to lose its defining role in the social order as new groups of people rose in societies. They represented among other characteristics new wealth or a high social status acquired through meritorious service. In response, ‘soft’ social markers such as honnêteté and taste began to play a central role in defining the boundaries of elite social groups, which increasingly became imaginary communities. In the 19th Century, these newly defined social virtues and challenges turned into a widely accepted, substantial prerequisite to social life. This social pattern developed according to an aestheticised model, subsumed by the term of elegance. The transnational style of elegance arose at the very time when nationalism gained currency in many European countries. It thus articulated the ambivalent identity of European elites, who committed themselves to national ideas as well as to an emerging transnational urban culture.

Leading international academics will discuss specific media, spaces, and cultural practices of the European urban elite in detail, focusing on the aesthetics of lifestyle in the imperial metropolises of London, Paris, Vienna, and Saint Petersburg, as well as in aspiring Central and Eastern European cities.

Lectures will be held at two neighbouring venues on Bloomsbury Square to emphasise the cross-cultural European character of the topic: Pushkin House is hosting the first lecture and German Historical Institute London will be welcoming the second and third events.

Monday, 24 April 2017
Dr Olga Vainshtein, Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow
Rules of Elegance: Russian and British Dandyism in the 19th Century
Pushkin House, 5A Bloomsbury Square, London
Music and Function room, 1st Floor
Tickets: £7 / £5

Thursday, 25 May 2017
Professor Joachim Rees, Freie Universität Berlindhi_logo
Selling the Metropolis: Friedrich Justin Bertuch’s Journal „London und Paris“ and the Mediations of Elegance around 1800
German Historical Institute, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London
Seminar Room, 1st
Free admission

Thursday, 6 July 2017
Professor Annegret Pelz, University of Vienna
Prince Hermann von Pueckler-Muskau‘s „Pictorial Souvenirs“ from England: Diary, Scrapbook, Panorama of Social Life
German Historical Institute, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ
Seminar Room, 1st Floor
Free admission

The lectures will begin at 6:30 pm, followed by a Q&A session and a wine reception.

The Public Lecture Series “Urban and Elegant” is organised and introduced by Dr Anna Ananieva, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.

International Conference

European Elites and Revolutionary Change:
1789 – 1848 – 1917.

The Aftermath

London, 2 – 3 November 2017

Organised by Anna Ananieva and Andreas Schönle

Venue: QMUL, Arts Two, Senior Common Room, Mile End Campus

With the emergence of European modernity over the course of the “long” 19th century, the existing systems of power and social relations were not only challenged and renegotiated, they also underwent dramatic alterations – not once, but multiple times. Thus, looking back, it makes sense to locate the struggle to establish a nation-state governed by parliamentary democracy as part of the same historical process as the deposition and beheading of the French king and the murder of the Russian emperor and his family.

The era’s revolutionary upheavals, which saw the participation of not only traditional political actors but also portions of the rural population, brought about wide-reaching changes in the political and social order. Revolutions established new institutions and practices, built new communities, and created alternative forms of identity. Nor did the consequences of these events stop at the borders of the countries or regions where they occurred. On the contrary: they contributed to the transregional circulation of ideas and they appreciably encouraged – indeed, even compelled – the movement of people across borders.

This conference looks at the revolutions of 1789, 1848 and 1917, focusing on the consequences for European elites in terms of their agency, their social status and community belonging, and their everyday lives and lifestyles in general. The organisers invite discussion of the dynamics of the social and cultural changes that accompanied these major revolutionary events. The two-day conference aims to serve as a forum for an interdisciplinary discussion in which the local logic and characteristics of the French Revolution, the central European 1848 Revolution, and the Russian Revolution can be examined in the context of their transnational ramifications. Our hope is that this analysis will make it possible to arrive at a better understanding of the “European elite” in the conference title (a socially heterogeneous formation that requires a more precise historical definition).

flag_yellow_low_smallThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant 
agreement No 655429.