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In June 1682, when Robert Hooke (1635–1703) delivered a lecture to the Royal Society on memory – his first and only excursion into human psychology – he had just witnessed a spectacularly public failure of memory when new texts were added to the Monument (1671–76), which he had designed with Christopher Wren. In a direct civic challenge to royal authority, these explained that the ‘Papists’ had set London's Great Fire of September 1666. This paper examines the tensions and accommodations between the City of London and CharlesIIthat accompanied the Monument's erection; the column serves to dramatize the difficulties besetting would-be memorializers in Restoration England. It is suggested that Hooke's memory lecture must be read, not only in the light of specific political anxieties then attached to memory, but against the other ways in which he grappled with forms of signification, here treated as forms of historical witness.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Courtauld Institute of Art, London

Publication date: 2005-02-01

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