At a more philosophical level, the pavement endures: it outlasts its own moment and thus raises questions about the nature of time. Thomas Hardy takes up these questions in a collection of poems set in Italy. With these descriptions of time collapsed at the site of artifacts, Hardy articulates an understanding of material as at once of a time and outside time.
Archaeology is most literally the study of what is old, but what emerged in the nineteenth century was a study of how old and new or past and present were not always useful categories. Archaeologists like Pitt Rivers sought to order their evidence chronologically, but the very notion of chronology was challenged by the persistent endurance of archaeological remains. Rather than seeing himself and his contemporaries at the end of a timeline, Hardy describes how they are concurrent with material that remains.
In an age fixated on defining itself as an age, archaeology offered images of past and present assembled together in a synchronous fashion and disrupted the stability of the time line even as it grounded national identity in material remains. She could as easily have been describing a collection of archaeological artifacts in a museum.
Thus, time is not stopped by collection and display: instead it is miniaturized or collapsed, as Hardy would have it. The concurrence of classical remains and nineteenth-century innovation invited reflection on the expanse and might of the British Empire. The Elgin marbles, for instance, were not only an imperial trophy but also offered a compelling revision of classical history. Rather than belonging in the Parthenon , the marbles belonged in the British Museum , where they became part of the material of British identity. The presence of the remains in London reinforced this notion of a direct lineage from Greece to Britain, allowing the English visitor to the museum to borrow greatness for his culture and his century.
The statue, Rossetti imagines, will prompt future visitors to the British Museum to wonder which God Victorians worshipped. The artifact thus calls into question the identity of those who display it. Of course, the Elgin Marbles symbolized an idealized descent from classical antiquity. In contrast, the remains from Nineveh, though associated with Biblical history, were alien and other.
Yet both were housed in the British Museum , the quintessential collection of material from a breadth of cultures and times. The relics enrich and complicate national identity with their medley of meanings. Striking images of temporal concurrence outside of museums also captured the public imagination.
In London, excavations for sewers, roads, and buildings inadvertently uncovered Roman remains. In these instances and many others like them, the Victorian Londoner was confronted with sites of excavation that made the past visible in the present.
The accidental archaeology in nineteenth-century London not only collapsed past and present but also, like select museum displays, offered a compelling foundation to British identity. A building symbolic of economic success such as the Coal Exchange rests atop evidence of the reach of the Roman Empire. The presence of Roman remains in England invited the Victorians to make connections with that other empire and thus to celebrate their own imperial might.
Turning again to Hardy, we find another sonnet from his trip to Italy that reflects on the connection between Rome and Britain. The accidental archaeology that revealed Rome beneath the surface of an improving London invited reflection on the reach of empire in space and time.
How Victorians reacted to the new sciences of geology and archaeology. Excavating Victorians examines nineteenth-century Britain's reaction to the revelations. Excavating Victorians examines nineteenth-century Britain s reaction to the revelations SUNY series, Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century.
While most of the archaeology in London at mid-century was inadvertent, the excavation of Silbury Hill near Stonehenge in Wiltshire presented an accident of a different sort and ultimately offered an unexpected instance of concurrence. It looms large over Salisbury plain , presenting a colossal enigma. In the nineteenth century, the mound was thought to be a burial site likely to contain treasure, and local archaeologists set out to excavate the hill with the expectation of finding significant remains.
Yet, after much anticipation, the site yielded very little: only some animal bones and antlers. Locals and visitors alike had imagined they would discover material artifacts that would illuminate the obscure British past. The nation was built atop Roman ruins, as excavation in London and throughout the country made plain, but native British ruins also lay at the foundations of Victorian identity.
This past, however, was elusive, difficult to read from its material remains. In the case of Silbury Hill , archaeology failed to uncover any evidence of former inhabitants. The Victorian visitors to the site found themselves concurrent with a void. After futile efforts to discover any material of interest, the local authorities re-sealed the hill; however, they deposited inside the prehistoric mound an urn filled with material documenting the excavation and including also a local newspaper and a poster announcing a meeting of the local Bible society.
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Popular Features. New Releases. Notify me. Opening up the vital new subfield of Romantic media studies through interventions in both media archaeology and contemporary media theory, Andrew Burkett addresses the ways that unconventional techniques and theories of storage and processing media engage with classic texts by William Blake, Lord Byron, John Keats, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, and others.
Ordered chronologically and structured by four crucial though often overlooked case studies that delve into Romanticism's role in the histories of incipient technical media systems, the book focuses on different examples of the ways that imaginative literature and art of the period become taken up and transformed by--while simultaneously shaping considerably--new media environments and platforms of photography, phonography, moving images, and digital media.
Product details Format Paperback pages Dimensions x x Other books in this series. Anxious Anatomy Stefani Engelstein. Add to basket. Nervous Conditions Elizabeth Green Musselman. Altered States Marlene Tromp. Excavating Victorians Virginia Zimmerman. Victorian Fetishism Peter Melville Logan. Aging by the Book unmasks and confronts midlife anxiety by examining its origins, demonstrating that our current negative attitude toward midlife springs from Victorian roots, and arguing that only when we understand the culturally constructed nature of age can we expose its ubiquitous and stealthy influence.
Female Desexualization at Midlife. Victorian Age Construction and the Specular Self.