The English Urban Renaissance Revisited
A quarter of a century ago, Professor Peter Borsay identified a specifically urban phenomenon of cultural revival that took root in the late seventeenth century, leading to the flowering of a wide range of cultural forms and the extensive remodelling of the townscape along classically inspired lines. Borsay called this the ‘English Urban Renaissance’. These essays, including Borsay’s reflective and thought-provoking revisiting of his concept, offer a wide-ranging exploration of the continuing and still developing impact of the ‘English Urban Renaissance’ and investigate the wider impact of the concept beyond England. The essays reiterate the importance of provincial towns as hubs of economic, cultural and political activity and the strength and vitality of urban culture beyond the metropolis. They trace the development of urban culture over time in the light of the concept of ‘urban renaissance’, showing how urban townscapes and cultural life were transformed throughout the long eighteenth century. Together, they establish the continuing impact and importance of Borsay’s concept, demonstrate the breadth of its influence in the UK and beyond, and point to possible areas of research for the future.
John Hinks is an Honorary Fellow at the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, UK, and Visiting Research Fellow in Printing History and Culture at Birmingham City University, UK. He is chair of the Printing Historical Society, reviews editor of the journal Publishing History and co-editor of a new book history series. His current research focuses on the urban context of printing and other book-related businesses, especially during the long eighteenth century. He has recently co-edited, with Catherine Feely, Historical Networks in the Book Trade (2017).
Catherine Armstrong is a Lecturer in Modern History at Loughborough University, UK, having previously spent six years at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. She is a specialist in colonial North America, specifically print culture and representations of the landscape and identity, and is interested in the peripheries of enslavement in the southern colonies. She is editor of the journal Publishing History, and is also involved in projects using oral history to combat loneliness and isolation among older people.
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