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Every Man His Own Monument: Self-Monumentalizing in Romantic Britain
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

From framing private homes as museums, to sitting for life masks and appointing biographers, new forms of self-monumentalizing emerged in the early nineteenth century. In this study I investigate the emergence and configuration of such practices in Romantic Britain. Positioning these practices at the intersection of emergent national pantheons, a modern conception of history, and a newly-formed celebrity culture, I argue that this period witnessed the birth of distinctively modern ways for the individual to make immortality. Faced with a visceral fear of being forgotten, public figures began borrowing from celebrity culture to make their own monuments.

Concentrated upon early nineteenth-century London, I characterize these practices as attempts at self-made immortality.  I do so by analyzing the legacy projects of three well-known but seldom connected individuals: the Auto-Icon by the philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), the Soane Museum by the architect Sir John Soane (1753–1837), and the life-writing efforts of the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786–1846). Employing both sociological and materialist frameworks to analyze the making of immortality, I contend that these projects were characteristic of a novel regime for the production of lasting renown. Whereas earlier scholarship on Romantic recognition has tended to focus either on mass-media celebrity or the longer history of canon-formation, I highlight the interactions of celebrity and monument embodied in entrepreneurial efforts to secure future recognition.

In Every Man His Own Monument, I demonstrate how a constellation of media forms and recording practices we now take for granted—the statuary figure, the house museum, and the published Life—assumed a central place within a new memorial regime. Bringing the historical roots of self-monumentalizing individuals to light, this study contributes to discussions both within the History of Celebrity and Cultural Memory Studies, and to broader debates regarding our Instagram-saturated present.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2018. , p. 263
Series
Uppsala Studies in History of Ideas, ISSN 1653-5197 ; 50
Keywords [en]
Self-monumentalizing, self-made immortality, history of celebrity, cultural memory, historical consciousness, Jeremy Bentham, Auto-Icon, John Soane, Soane Museum, Benjamin Robert Haydon, autobiography
National Category
History
Research subject
History of Sciences and Ideas
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-361353ISBN: 978-91-513-0451-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-361353DiVA, id: diva2:1250312
Public defence
2018-11-09, Auditorium minus, Gustavianum, Uppsala universitetsmuseum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-10-19 Created: 2018-09-23 Last updated: 2018-11-19

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Haffenden, Chris

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