Volume 2: Portugal's Sintra with Pascal Ansell - Context Travel

Volume 2: Portugal's Sintra with Pascal Ansell


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What attracted so many writers, mystics, and film directors to the hill of Sintra? In Pascal Ansell's second seminar on this most exaggerated of Portuguese towns, we will explore the reasons, discovering how the history of ideas was put into stone. (Please note, you do not have to have attended the previous conversation to enjoy this one.)

More than any other part of Europe, Sintra is the Romantic ideal made most tangible, played out - with the emphasis on 'play'- in the open air. The town personifies the kernel Romanticism's impulse, which is to set aesthetics into motion and treat beauty as a way of life.

We will read Sinatra's architecture as a text in itself, and it is not hard to hear the tales being spoken by its buildings. Cinema expresses this in real-time, and we will be accompanied by excerpts from the many films made in the area. Pascal will dive into the reigning aesthetic ideals of the Sublime and grotesque, both epic and spectacular ideals. Such were these ideas woven into 19th Century's Romantic tapestry, that their philosophical inheritance makes us all, so to speak, dressed in Romantic garments today.

Alongside the conceptual framework of Sintra, we find a certain glitter and campness in the emerging celebrity culture of the 19th Century, thanks to figures like William Beckford and Lord Byron, who were both effusively admired in this part of Portugal. Kitsch, and the chivalric ethic, are two more vital components of a town that is full of a playful and pluralistic approach to the history of ideas. We also hear from the world after Darwin, one that was spiritually bruised and longing for a time where the human was not swallowed up by emerging modernity. This time they longed for is Sintra's pastiche: a medieval Eden.

It is these ideas that shape Sintra as we know it today, but none of this would have taken place if it weren't for the area's peculiar microclimate. More than any other town, it is in Sintra where we encounter the convergence of nature and human ingenuity.

Led by local Lisbon expert Pascal Ansell, this interactive discussion will discuss Sintra's history, architecture, and influences from abroad. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with a better understanding of the significance of this beautiful Moorish castle.

This conversation is the second in a two-part series. Each seminar can be joined independently and in any order. 
Volume 1: Portugal's Sintra with Pascal Ansell
Volume 2: Portugal's Sintra with Pascal Ansell

Born in Oxford, UK, to an Anglo-Belgian family, Pascal graduated with a first-class B.A. honors in English & Music after studying in Leeds and Berlin. Based in Lisbon, he is interested in the history of the commonplace elements within everyday life. He has published about and taught a wide range of cultural histories, from coffee to wine consumption in Europe, to medieval and early modern Portuguese history, as well as the 'permanent street art' of Portugal's tiles and cobblestones. Pascal also lectures on art theory and philosophy, developing concepts surrounding 'sub-realism' and aesthetically-engaged mysticisms. He has performed across Europe and released music under various labels in the UK, Poland, and Portugal.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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