The city of London is known in the 21st century by its glamour, buzz and cosmopolitan atmosphere – one can easily have access to all of this through the media and digital supports that inundate us every day. However, in the 18th-century London, cultural mapping had to be achieved through other resources. From attitudes and values in The Harlot’s Progress or Gin Lane, moving on to tangible places that still today identify London such as Covent Garden in Morning or St Giles in The First Stage of Cruelty and urban life in The Enraged Musician, this paper takes the adventure of mapping a whole urban culture of London at a time when engraving was the best photo of city life. William Hogarth describes himself as “the visual interpreter of contemporary urban life” confirming a clear and conscious evidence on the role people and their surrounding atmosphere, thus senses, played when depicting the city and the building of its collective memory. In fact, at a time when art was starting to be made accessible to more social classes than ever before, the portrait of a city and its inhabitants brought art closer to many social realities – Hogarthian London, as so many times was described, is a panoply of the most varied and versatile characters, lifestyles and realities, both social and economic. Through this Hogarthian spirit we “are swept along the alleyways, jostled from each side, forced to dodge the contents of an emptied piss-pot or to step over an inebriated harlot.” (Trend:2007) In the eighteenth century, Hogarth gave life to the city of London showing what Park (1925:1) described in the beginning of the 20th century as “a state of mind, a body of customs and traditions, and of the organized attitudes and sentiments that inhere in these customs and are transmitted with this tradition.” This paper aims at showing that the importance that has been given to cities is based upon a concept which encloses much more than the idea of place as “spatial place”.
Paula Rama da Silva is a Senior Lecturer in English Language at the Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies and Lisbon School of Education. She is a Researcher at the Centre for English Studies, University of Lisbon in the Cultural Studies (ULICES) research group. She has a Masters’ Degree in English Teaching by NOVA Lisbon University and is a Teacher Specialist in Languages and Literature.
Over the last years she has presented several papers at international conferences and published articles in the areas of cultural studies and language teaching/education.
She is developing her PhD research on 18th-century London and William Hogarth’s art. Her main research interests include cultural studies, visual art and language teaching and training.