George IV’s Coronation as Festival
Invented Traditions, Material Culture, and the Multisensory Meanings of Diamonds in Britain in 1821
Keywords:history of the senses, thing theory, orientalism, India, historical consciousness, British monarchy, light, visual culture
This article analyzes George IV’s coronation as a multisensory festive experience in order to understand the meanings of diamonds within British material culture in 1821. Reframing the coronation as a festival allows historical scholars to bridge the premodern/modern divide in early nineteenth-century historiography and demonstrates the ongoing centrality of festivals in consumer culture in the modern era. It also offers a vantage point from which to study sensory paradigm shifts and clashes that occurred in this context and evaluate diamonds in relation to other pieces of material culture outside of the confines of a formal marketplace. The article argues that the coronation shifted how diamonds were thought about in Britain, though this shift was subtle and deeply embedded in the turmoil of the moment. On a widespread scale, the event normalized the association of diamonds with monarchy, imperial power, and light, in ways that made diamonds seem like quotidian items. The article is based on accounts of the event in newspapers, periodicals, and official histories.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Danielle Kinsey
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