CFP: Polite and Impolite Pleasures: Entertaining the Georgian City

Polite and Impolite Pleasures: Entertaining the Georgian City 

Where: Fairfax House, York, UK

When: Friday 21 October 2016

Submission Guidelines: Send proposals of around 200 words, accompanied by a brief one-paragraph biography, to by Friday 29 July 2016.

The Georgian era saw a great increase in the variety of entertainments available to an expanding and urbanising population, and it was in towns and cities that eighteenth-century cultures of recreation and leisure, both ‘high’ and ‘low’, were most developed. From theatrical performances and musical recitals, assemblies and dances, to race meetings, boxing matches, cock fights and hangings, Georgian urban life offered a dazzling and constantly changing kaleidoscope of polite and impolite pleasures.

In Georgian cities the lowest and the highest forms of entertainment were catered for along with everything in between, from the cultivated recreations of the nobility through the gentility of middle-class leisure to the earthier enjoyments of the ‘common folk’. New cultures of entertainment reflected changing patterns of work, mobility and social relations, and reflected developments in class, gender and the dynamics of personal and collective identity. The urban environment itself was affected by these changing cultures of entertainment. From London to provincial centres, industrial cities to market towns, new promenades, parks, streets and squares were developed, new theatres, assembly rooms and concert halls were built and embellished. And paralleling this brightly-lit and orderly world of polite pleasure was another, darker urban realm of more dubious diversions: prostitution and prize fights, the gambling stew and the drinking den.

This symposium, the fourth Fairfax House Symposium in Georgian Studies, aims to explore the theme of entertainment with particular reference to the concept of ‘polite and impolite pleasures’ in an urban context during the long eighteenth century (c.1680–c.1830). Contributions in the form of papers not exceeding 20 minutes in length are invited addressing relevant topics which may include, but are certainly not limited to:
• The city as a focus for polite and impolite entertainments
• Entertainment shaped by, and a shaper of, the Georgian city
• Urban/rural interaction in Georgian entertainments
• High and low in eighteenth-century urban entertainments
• Selling entertainments: publicity, advertising, industries of pleasure
• Questions of class, gender and identity in entertainment
• Entertainments: spectators and spectacle
• Policing pleasure in the city

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