Lecture: Dystopia to Utopia: How Radical Victorians Transformed the Industrial World
This lecture introduces radical artistic thinkers from the Victorian era (1837-1901), Britain’s first machine age. The critic John Ruskin realized that industrial workers were treated as mere “fuel to feed the factory smoke” while William Morris demanded a revolution allowing a return to the craftsmanship and hand productiom of the middle ages. As industrialization created what Ruskin, a pioneering ecological campaigner, called “the storm-cloud of the nineteenth century” made of “dead men’s souls,” Pre-Raphaelite artists painted the natural world with a new intensity, recognizing its precarity. Later in the century, members of the Arts and Crafts Movement believed that by making beautiful objects they could bring about meaningful social change and imagined Britain becoming a socialist utopia. As the United Kingdom faces an existential political crisis, this lecture turns to the nineteenth-century for some possible solutions to our contemporary problems.
Dr. Barringer is a Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University. He specialised in the eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century art of Britain and the British Empire, nineteenth-century American and German art, and museum studies. He is the co-curator of Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. Seating is limited and first come, first served.