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'Curious, but not angry': Emotional Responses to the Destruction of Paris after the Commune

Tuesday, 23. May 2017 - 17:00
Location: 
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin, Small Conference Room
Host: 
Center for the History of Emotions
Contact: 
Christina Becher, sekfrevert@mpib-berlin.mpg.de

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its summer semester 2017 colloquium.

Keith Bresnahan, OCAD University, Toronto

'Curious, but not angry': Emotional Responses to the Destruction of Paris after the Commune

This talk is part of a longer work concerning the role of emotions in the destruction of Paris during the Commune of 1871 and its aftermath. Setting aside for one moment the emotional impulses that motivated the destruction itself, this talk considers emotional reactions to the ruined city through a reading of texts, photographs, and lithographs produced in the months following the Commune’s end. What kinds of feelings accompanied the experience of viewing the ruined city, and how do these circulate in the varied representations made of the ruins? While suggesting that these sources might provide a more complex picture of Parisians’ reactions to the traumatic events of 1870-71, Keith Bresnahan also wants to raise questions about the difficulty of reading these images of architectural destruction in emotional terms.

Keith Bresnahan is Associate Professor of Design History and Theory at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. His work focuses primarily on architecture and urbanism in 18th- and 19th-century France, and on the emotional and psychological dimensions of urban space. He has also published widely on the dynamics of architectural destruction and vandalism, including the edited volume Architecture and Armed Conflict: The Politics of Destruction (Routledge, 2014). Author of the forthcoming work The Production of Atmosphere: Architecture, Emotion, and Sensibility in France, 1740-1800, he is currently working on a new book project entitled On the Commune’s Ruins: emotion and spatial violence in late 19th-century Paris.