This issue features work from the course HIS 301: “Making History,” taught by Profs. Dietz and Guasco and made possible by the late Professor Malcolm Lester’s generous gift to Davidson College. This course explores how history is produced and memorialized in the present day. Students in the course during Spring 2020 studied the American South and Great Britain, traveling to London over spring break.
The work featured here grew out of two separate assignments, both based on the research trip to London. The first assignment is a site report that prompted students to interrogate a site in London and its relationship to historical memory. The second assignment is a group project that centered on specific neighborhoods in London. Each group explored a neighborhood, examining what public space can reveal about history and historical memory. After conducting additional research, each group developed a digital project to present its findings and analysis.
Brick Lane/Spitalfields — Laura Auberry, Lauren Browne, Taylor Drake, and Marcus Whipple
Chelsea — Cassie Harding, Julia Mahoney, Ella Nagy-Benson, and Jack Sheehy
Highgate — Katie Boyette, Jane Guidera, Ross Hickman, and Luke Mitchell
Southwark — Carlina Green, Elena Propst, Meghan Rankins, and Maggie Shehane
Victoria and Albert Museum’s (Upper-Class) Fashion Exhibit by Laura Auberry
The Fashion Exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum presents a cyclical viewing experience of important fashion pieces from the seventeenth century until the twenty-first century. However, this exhibit is shaped by who chooses to donate items to the collection, creating a history that only showcases upper-class fashion. This essay focuses on how the Fashion Exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum highlights questions that any visitor at a historical site or museum should ask about the narrative that is presented.
Encountering Queer Intergenerational Memory at Admiral Duncan by Taylor Drake
Through this paper, I recount my experience visiting the Admiral Duncan, a historic gay bar in London. I visited the Admiral Duncan because of my desire to learn more about the gay cultural landscapes of the city. Located in the heart of the gay neighborhood Soho, the bar and its patrons provided me with a multi-layered glimpse into LGBTQIA+ history in London. I weave my experience visiting the Admiral Duncan with historical research to ultimately ponder common modes of LGBTQIA+ historical production.
In the politics of urban space, queerness has had quite a tumultuous reputation as a source of culture, immorality, pleasure, and waste. Once the stomping ground of both Oscar Wilde and David Bowie, Heddon Street in London has sat at the convergence of these tropes and given us new ways of thinking about historical memory, erasure, and pleasure. How can we distinguish between the queer legacies of revolutionary hedonism (pun intended!) and the more normative current realities of vapid consumerism—which dominates what was once a grubby, queer, avant-garde, counter-cultural space? What are the meanings and manifestations of pleasure in the palimpsest of urban space, when buildings and vocabularies shoot up and topple down with such modern rapidity? Queering not only the past, but also the present, may allow us to reconsider our relationship to pleasure in how we talk about our public and private spaces.
Another Form of Communion by Ella Nagy-Benson
In this report, I trace the history of St. Mary Aldermary Church, a medieval church located in the City of London, and how its physical space and mission have been repurposed for the present day. For centuries, the site operated as churches normally do, but today the church stands out because of the strikingly secular café that has been added to the back of its sanctuary. In light of a similar transformation of a building at Davidson College, I consider how the changes to St. Mary Aldermary Church are representative of the process in which physical spaces evolve to meet communities’ needs.