Rebuilding the world at the crystal palace: Architectural discourse at the 1851 Great Exhibition

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The 1851 Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, also known as the Crystal Palace Exhibition, is a central part of Prince Albert's legacy. While scholars have long discussed the Exhibition's significance in terms of Britain's international relationships, this article focuses on an aspect of the Great Exhibition that has been less fully explored: the role architectural discourse played in shaping nineteenth-century interpretations of the Exhibition. This paper analyzes the diverse perspectives of two Exhibition organizers-Prince Albert and civil servant Henry Cole-and three writers-Henry Mayhew, Caroline Kirkland, and William Wells Brown. Although each person projected diferent interpretations onto the Exhibition, all of them engaged with organizers' claim that the architectural design of the Crystal Palace unsettled class, race, and national hierarchies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-158
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 2019


  • Architectural discourse
  • Caroline Kirkland
  • Crystal Palace
  • Great Exhibition
  • Henry Cole
  • Henry Mayhew
  • Joseph Paxton
  • Prince Albert
  • William Wells Brown

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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