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2012 Highlights

Matthew Ingleby

1 May 2012

Matthew Ingleby

Dr Matthew Ingleby teaches literature at UCL to international students. He initially studied English at Madgalen, Oxford (BA, M.St.), and then obtained his doctorate at UCL, where he participated in the Bloomsbury Project, funded by the Leverhulme. He has published one article on William Morris, another on Victorian building plots, reviews regularly for the *TLS*, and is writing an encyclopaedia article about George Crabbe, and co-editing an essay collection about G. K. Chesterton and the modern city.

Abstract: Railings, Riots and Representation

Railings are the everyday markers that make manifest the socio-political divisions that encode London’s streets, clarifying the pervasive public/private split, whilst at the same time enabling what Thomas Pennant in 1790 described as a ‘benevolent’ visual access. Enforcing physical exclusion, yet also engaging the excluded in a kind of aesthetic egalitarianism and inviting a form of accountability, railings underscore spatial hierarchies, but at the same time, they might be seen to gesture towards a scopic democracy. Appropriated during riots and political demonstrations, through being torn up, chained to, or ceremoniously overleaped, the contradictory politics of railings is drawn attention to, becoming explicitly legible. This paper will address some of the representations of London’s railings as they function in extremis, in moments of radical dissent and popular challenge, when they are cast in the roles that reveal their vexed political status most arrestingly.