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‘Ruins as Distortions of Human Memory’ – by Professor Andrew Sanders.

In his novel Coningsby (1844) Benjamin Disraeli insisted that "the age of Ruins is Past". He meant that a cultural adulation of the ancient ruins of Egypt, Greece and Rome had been superseded in the nineteenth century by the reality of the vibrancy of the modern industrial world .

"Have you seen Manchester?" seemed to be the proper corrective. Ancient ruins have remained essential to the cultural experiences of visitors to the Mediterranean until the present day, but they have been
supplemented by an admiration for the ruins that typify northern Europe, those of castles and abandoned abbeys. These might be described as 'Romantic' ruins.

Since the mid-nineteenth century, however, ruins have been maintained as both memorials and as aspects of national propaganda. The ruins of Lucknow once preserved by the British as a reminder of the evils of the so-called 'Indian Mutiny' are now revered in modern India as a celebration of a 'War of Independence'. The ruins caused by the destructive bombing of the Second World War have opened new lines of debate but suggested little demand for conservation.

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Tuesday 20 June

6pm to 8.30pm