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Principles of Geology and sensory experience at London's Cyclorama

Hibberd, Sarah

Authors

Sarah Hibberd

Abstract

The Cyclorama opened in London in 1848 with a representation of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that reportedly terrified audiences with its realistic aural and visual effects. During the first half of the century Londoners had been confronted with a rapid succession of revolutions in scientific thought, which needed to be assimilated into the emotional as well as the intellectual structures of public life. The geologist Charles Lyell had recently explained earthquakes and volcanic activity in a manner that fundamentally changed public understanding of the history of the earth, and in so doing challenged the religious narratives that had formerly underpinnedit. The Cyclorama invited the spectator to confront such destruction in this new light: the frighteningly immersive visual and aural effects and the comforting narratives offered by accompanying musical excerpts (from works by Auber, Beethoven, and Rossini) were crucial to the shaping of the experience, and can be understood in the context of other artistic and poetic responses to Lyell’s proposals. The music helped to articulate something of the competing perspectives on the crisis of faith that was exercising the intelligentsia at mid-century and offered a conduit for both emotional and intellectual responses.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 1, 2015
Journal 19th-Century Music
Print ISSN 0148-2076
Electronic ISSN 0148-2076
Publisher University of California Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 2
DOI https://doi.org/10.1525/ncm.2015.39.2.167
Keywords Cyclorama, Charles Lyell, geology, London, earthquake of Lisbon
Publisher URL http://ncm.ucpress.edu/content/39/2/167
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Additional Information © 2015 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Reprints and Permissions web page, http://www.ucpress.edu/journals.php?p=reprints. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by [the Regents of the University of California/on behalf of the Sponsoring Society] for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf



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