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Matthew M. Reeve
Associate Professor, Queen’s University

Wednesday, October 16, 6 pm
38 West 86th Street, Lecture Hall

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill (begun 1747) established a significant template for subsequent Gothic buildings. Eliding the persona of a famous author, antiquary, and connoisseur with an extraordinary Gothic villa, the house would be emulated in a long list of commissions from c. 1750 into the twentieth century. Walpole’s coterie were central to the dissemination of the Gothic style in Georgian London from c. 1750–1790, and responsible for a handful of buildings that followed in Strawberry Hill’s wake. For Walpole, these buildings were “Children of Strawberry,” the offspring of his famous home. This was grounded in the construction of Walpole’s coterie as a “queer family,” a sexual rather than biological construction of kinship. Sexuality was, however, only one possible signification of Strawberry Hill and Strawberry Hill Gothic, and the house’s reception history indicates that the meanings of the house morphed to adapt to the needs of different patrons. The apparent “queerness” of these buildings and of the Gothic generally, would change significantly around 1800 and be reframed in the light of the religious and social reforms that shaped the Victorian Gothic Revival. Taking the “long view” of Walpole’s famous home, this lecture considers the changing meanings of the Gothic on either side of c. 1800 and in so doing offers a new perspective on the shaping of “the Gothic Revival.”

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Matthew M. Reeve is Associate Professor and Queen’s National Scholar of Art History at Queen’s University in Canada, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Beginning at the University of Toronto, he moved to Cambridge for his graduate work and taught at the University of Toronto and the University of London. His research has been divided between medieval art (proper) and episodes of medievalism in Western art. His first books were on Gothic architecture and wall painting and he has recently completed Gothic Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole 1717–97 which is soon to appear from Penn State. This project has been supported by fellowships from the Paul Mellon Centre and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He has recently founded MobArch at Queen’s University—a mobile laboratory employing the latest Leica laser scanning and imaging technology in the built environment with an infrastructure grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. He is currently working on books on the Gothic sculpture of Wells Cathedral, Welsh Gothic architecture, and a collaborative study of Medievalism during Toronto’s Gilded Age.

BGCTV Logo BGCTV This event will be livestreamed. A link to the video will be posted to the event listing the day of the talk.