Liberty, fear and the city of sensations: Sir William Chambers' Dissertation on Oriental Gardening and Burke's sublime-effect
Architecture and Culture: Journal of Architectural Humanities Research Association
Reason for embargo
This is the author accepted manuscript. It is currently under an indefinite embargo pending publication by Bloomsbury
The scenes of liberty and fear in Sir William Chambers’ Dissertation on Oriental Gardening (1772) can be interpreted in relation to Edmund Burke’s theory of the sublime and beautiful. The scenes may therefore articulate a landscape theory cultivating the sentiment of fear— via the sense of awe—in liberal and civil societies. Chambers’ Dissertation sets forth the sublime scenes which constrain limitless human will coexisting with the landscape of liberty. Referring to the idea of nature in Chinese gardening as balanced human emotions, Chambers also proposes that British cities and the countryside are to be landscaped as educational sites, in order to maintain the moral sentiments of citizens. The Dissertation affords an important insight into eighteenth-century British city and landscape planning practice which, I argue, did not develop according to bourgeoisie interest alone, but rather as a contested realm, constantly challenged by humanist thoughts of landscape as an instrument shaping people’s imaginations.
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