The Pursuit of Pleasure: Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London

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Until recently, architectural historians have focused their attention on buildings financed by wealthy patrons and designed by prestigious architects. Historical analysis has centered on the politics of this architecture and how social class has contributed to the design. Feminist historians have explored the role of women architects, and they have examined how gender difference informs architectural design.

Developing these areas of research, Jane Rendell discusses how gender theory can inform the study of architecture in early nineteenth-century London. She considers the gendering of public space as a complex and shifting series of moves between men and women, constructed and represented through spatial and social relations of consumption, display, and exchange. Drawing on geography, philosophy, and cultural theory, she investigates a number of specific architectural spaces—places of upper-class leisure and consumption in the West End: streets, clubs, assembly rooms, opera houses, and theaters.

In discussing public urban sites and the social exchanges that take place there, Rendell also examines the types of individuals displayed in—or excluded by—these spaces, such as the rambler and the cyprian, precursors to the Parisian flâneur and prostitute. Illustrated with contemporary prints and drawings, The Pursuit of Pleasure is a rich analysis of public space at the birth of the modern metropolis.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813529806
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2002
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Table of Contents

List of figures
Ch. 1 The Pursuit of Pleasure 1
The Pursuit of Theoretical Pleasure: 'Women on the Market' 7
The Pursuit of Historical Pleasure: Life in London 19
Ch. 2 Life in London 30
Life in London: The Rambler as Reader 31
The Pursuit of Pleasure: Ramblers and Cyprians 38
Mobility: The Rambler as Corinthian 41
Visuality: The Rambler as Dandy 49
Mobility: The Cyprian as Female Rambler 54
Visuality: The Cyprian as Female Spectacle 58
Ch. 3 The Clubs of St. James's - Public Patriarchy 63
The Clubhouse: Male Domesticity in the City 66
The Bow Window: Displaying Exclusivity 71
'Sanctum Sanctorium': The Secret Space of Gambling 78
Ch. 4 Almack's Assembly Rooms - Exchanging Property 86
Assembly Rooms: 'Matrimonial Bazaars' 89
Almack's: 'Seventh Heaven' 92
Waltzing: 'An Obscene Display' 96
Masquerade: 'Events Immoral' 100
Ch. 5 The Italian Opera House - Exchanging Looks 104
The Italian Opera House: 'Modern Ornament to the Metropolis' 105
Foyers, Lobbies, Saloons: 'Ladies of Saloon Notoriety' 110
The Auditorium: 'To See and be Seen' 114
Boxes: 'Seductive Lures' 116
'Fop's Alley': 'Meetings and Greetings' 118
Omnibus Boxes: 'Operatic Cognoscenti' 119
The Stage: 'What a Foot, Leg and Thigh!' 120
Green Room: 'Studying Nature' 122
Ch. 6 Life in and out of London 126
Disorderly Bodies and Spaces: Mobility 130
Disorderly Bodies and Spaces: Visuality 137
From Life in London to Finish ... Life in and out of London 140
Notes 142
Bibliography 198
Index 245
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