21 January 2021

Ruins, ruin lust, and risk

From shocking devastation to sublime decay, ruins are an alluring but at times fearful feature of our landscape.

This illustrated talk will look at various sites of ruin and trace a course through Romantic ruinenlust, Victorian neo-gothic buildings, and postmodern ‘traumascapes’.

What are the meanings of these sites and scenes of demolition, construction, ruin and reconstruction? What is the relationship between modern and historical ruins, real and imagined, which feature so prominently in gothic literature and art? How might the history of ruins and the gothic forms of expression they inspired, help us understand the meaning of our own current ruin-making?

We will explore these questions along with the particular issue of risk. Ruins, ruin-making and ruin lust reflect a sense of risk that many see as a characteristic feature of modern society.

Ruins are a material manifestation of what has been termed ‘Risk Society’ or ‘Risk Culture’. At the same time, ruins are also our heritage at risk. When should we preserve them and when should we leave them to decay, to be reclaimed by nature?

Speaker: Dr Corinna Wagner,  Associate Professor of Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Exeter

This is a UWE Regional History Centre talk in partnership with M Shed seminar series.

How to take part

This free, online talk will be held over Zoom. Please book your place below. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive. Bookings close at 2pm on Thursday 21 January.

Although this talk is free, we would be grateful if you could consider making a donation.

Please visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining meetings. Please allow extra time before the talk begins to make sure everything is working correctly. It’s up to you whether you turn on your video but all guests will be muted once the talk begins. You are welcome to ask questions in the chat box throughout the talk.