Inaugural Lecture: Axel Körner on Unveiling Modernity
Start: Dec 03, 2013 12:00 AM
3 December 2013
Why did Verdy celebrate the Unification of Italy with an opera set in Boston, Un ballo in maschera (1859)? The lecture explores ideas about social and political change in transnational perspective, demonstrating how cultural developments inform our understanding of political events.
3 December 2013
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Verdi’s hugely popular American opera Un ballo in maschera (1859) was completed during the final stages of the Unification of Italy. Why did Italy’s compositore nazionale celebrate Unification with an opera set in Boston? Verdi depicts an altogether rather dark and disconcerting image of life in the New World. When president elect Abraham Lincoln attended one of the opera’s first performances in New York, he left the theatre shortly before the final act, allegedly fearing an assassination attempt. Did anybody remember this scene when Lincoln was shot in a theatre four years later? The lecture explores ideas about social and political change in transnational perspective, demonstrating how cultural developments inform our understanding of political events.
Axel Körner has been teaching at UCL since 1996. His publications include Politics of Culture in Liberal Italy (2009); America Imagined (with N.Miller and A.I.P.Smith, 2012); 1848 – A European Revolution? (ed., 2000); and Das Lied von einer anderen Welt (1997). He has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; the École Normale Supérieure, Paris; and the Remarque Centre of New York University.
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