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Title: Making the West End modern : space, architecture and shopping in 1930s London
Author: Edwards, Bronwen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 2562
Awarding Body: University of the Arts London
Current Institution: University of the Arts London
Date of Award: 2004
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This research explores the shopping cultures of the 1930s West End, arguing for the recognition of this as a significant moment within consumption history, hitherto overlooked in favour of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The approach is interdisciplinary, combining in a new way studies of shopping routes and networks, retail architecture, spectacle, consumer types and consumption practices. The study first establishes the importance of shopping geographies in understanding the character of the 1930s West End. It positions this shopping hub within local, national and international networks. It also examines the gender and class-differentiated shopping routes within the West End, looking at how the rise of new consumer cultures during the period reconfigured this geography. In the second section, a case study of two new Modern shops, Simpson Piccadilly and Peter Jones, provides the focus for a discussion of retail buildings. Architecture is presented as an important way in which the West End was transformed and modernity articulated. Modernism was a significant arrival in the West End's retail sector: it provided a new architectural approach with a close, if often problematic, relationship with shopping. The study thus reassesses common assumptions about the fundamental irreconcilability of modernism with consumption, femininity and spectacle. The third section makes a more detailed examination of the staging of shopping cultures within the West End street, looking at window display, the application of light and decoration to facades, and participation in pageantry. The study thus revisits retail spectacle, an important strand within histories of shopping and of the urban, looking at how established strategies were adapted and developed to stage modernity, emerging consumer cultures and the West End itself during the 1930s.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social History ; Fashion Marketing & Promotion ; Modern History 1920-1949