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2012 Highlights

Susan Anderson

8 May 2012

Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in English at Leeds Trinity University College. Her research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to performance in the drama and spectacle of the Shakespearean period.

Abstract: Walking the Seventeenth-Century City

The seventeenth century was the heyday of the London Lord Mayor’s Show, an annual celebration of the power and wealth of the City of London. Surviving descriptions give details of the speeches and dramatic elements of some of the Shows from this period, and they outline the ceremonial route along which the day’s events were played out each year. In April 2012 I investigated the current state of this route by walking along it and documenting what now stands in the locations occupied by the seventeenth-century London Lord Mayors’ Shows. This paper will report upon this project, showing materials gathered or generated during the experiment, and comparing these with historical images and texts. I will offer reflections on what the city’s ceremonial past can tell us about the present, and seek to demonstrate the interest and pleasure to be gained in historical scholarship as well as its importance and relevance. The paper will offer an honest evaluation of how much can be determined about the traces of London left by the texts, and the relationship of the London conveyed in the historical evidence relating to the Shows to the present-day city. I will aim to stimulate discussion about the way space cannot be separated from time, our current relationship to the material past, and the ways in which the identity of the city itself is generated.