Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

Making space in the country house: practice, performance and plans

Stobart, J. (2014) Making space in the country house: practice, performance and plans. Invited Presentation presented to: Practices and Performances: Between Materiality and Morality in Pre-Modernity, Sigtunastiftelsen, Sweden, 21-23 August 2014. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Invited Presentation)
Abstract: The country house is often seen as fixed and permanent: a stable space, produced to a blue print that, once manifest in stone and plaster, remained largely unchanged. As Girouard argues, it was both a reflection and expression of the power of its owner, imprinting their status and identity onto the landscape in complex, but essentially uncomplicated ways. Read in this way, the country house is all about status and taste, but it also gave its owner, and the landowning classes more generally, ‘a sense of identity, of achievement, and of permanence’. In reality, the situation was rarely this straightforward. I have argued elsewhere that ‘viewing the great house as the embodiment of social and cultural capital places emphasis on outcomes and often overlooks the processes of consumption’. It also ignores the constant flux which characterised any house, but particularly those of the landed elite. Flows of people, goods, capital and knowledge ran into, out from and through the house, producing and reproducing space as they went. In this way, space can be seen as both the product of human activity and the active context in which that activity took place. Such arguments have been rehearsed in many contexts over the last twenty years or so, mostly by geographers but increasingly by historians who took the spatial turn. Yet attention has largely focused on urban rather than domestic space, and the country house has yet to be explored through such ideas. In this paper, then, I want to address this lacuna, drawing in particular on the ideas of Henri Lefebvre, who posited a so-called ‘trialectics of spatiality’. This comprised lived space, produced by routine and everyday practices; representations of space, which are conceived, codified and planned by elites and professionals; and spaces of representation, in which the individual rather than society is reflected and which are often associated with attempts to subvert dominant spatial practices and spatialities.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions > HC94 By region or country > HC257 Great Britain > HC260.C6 Consumerism
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM1001 Social psychology > HM1176 Social influence. Social pressure > HM1263 Elite
Creators: Stobart, Jon
Funders or Sponsors: AHRC
Grant Reference Number: ah/h008365/1
Projects: Consumption and the country house
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > School of Social Sciences (to 2016)
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > History
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > History
Date: August 2014
Date Type: Presentation
Event Title: Practices and Performances: Between Materiality and Morality in Pre-Modernity
Event Dates: 21-23 August 2014
Event Location: Sigtunastiftelsen, Sweden
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished

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