Packed audience for Richard Dennis’s inaugural lecture
‘No abiding city’: London, Gissing, Bloomsbury - and Tokyo?
Almost 200 people, many from outside UCL, packed into the Christopher Ingold Lecture Theatre on March 18th to hear Professor Richard Dennis’s Inaugural Lecture: No Abiding City: transience and transfiguration in ‘modern’ cities. In discussing the physical and human transience of late nineteenth century cities, he ranged from apocalyptic visions of the urban future to the lived experiences of individuals passing through, portrayed both in ‘model dwellings’ archives and the fiction of Richard’s favourite author, George Gissing.
The audience was welcomed by the Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, Professor Stephen Smith, and introduced by Professor Mark Maslin, Head of Geography. The Vote of Thanks was proposed by Professor Derek Keene, formerly Director and Professor of Comparative Metropolitan History at the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research.
Richard had also recently given papers in two other contexts. On 25 February he presented a position paper on ‘Modern London’ to a symposium on London and Tokyo: The Prospect for Comparison, organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the Centre for Metropolitan History. The invited audience included about thirty urban historians, art historians, planners and geographers. The symposium was the first step in planning a more elaborate exchange of ideas, and a book comparing the urban histories of London and Edo/Tokyo.
At the UCL English Department's 'Bloomsbury Day' Celebration of Bloomsbury Past and Present,, on 12 March, Richard also addressed a near-capacity audience in the UCL Cruciform Lecture Theatre. His topic was 'George Gissing and Bloomsbury'. The audience had probably been attracted by the lure of David Lodge and Lynne Truss after the interval, but Richard's paper was very enthusiastically received. (and, as in his Inaugural, he stuck to time!).