Workshop 'Veiled Cities: Flanders and the Urban Imaginary around 1900'


Henri Le Sidaner, ‘Canal in Bruges at Dusk’, c. 1898. Courtesy of the Ashmolean Museum

The imagined Flemish city was the antithesis of the teeming metropolis of modernist invention, it was a world of enclosed gardens, silent squares and still waters, where nameless figures disappeared through secret doors; a world of reflections and glimpses, in which gothic traceries, convent grills and lace veils concealed as much as they revealed. This was also an uncanny world, offering portals to the Catholic realm of miracles, the glorious Flemish medieval past, and the city of the dead. Here social realist concern for the lives of the poor combined with the spiritual yearning of the fin-de-siècle. This vision of the city inspired artists and writers, but it also influenced urban planners and social campaigners, who looked forward by looking back to craft guilds, enclosed communities and urban autonomy.


The workshop, which starts at 9.30, is supported by the John Fell Fund and organized by David Hopkin and Juliet Simpson; it will be held on 7 October 2022 at the Maison Française d’Oxford from 9.30. Speakers include Dominique Bauer (Leuven), Marnix Beyen (Antwerp), Maria Golovteeva (St Andrews), David Hopkin (Oxford), Claire Moran (Belfast), Stijn Paredis (Leuven), Juliet Simpson (Coventry), and Hans Vandevoorde (Brussels).


The symposium is organized by David Hopkin (Oxford) and Juliet Simpson (Coventry), and supported by the John Fell Fund. It is free and all are welcome, but please contact David Hopkin by 3 October at or 01865 279459 if you plan to attend.


Please download the programme here.