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Melancholy Wedgwood

Melancholy Wedgwood

Current price: $34.95
Publication Date: January 23rd, 2024
Publisher:
The MIT Press
ISBN:
9780262546348
Pages:
248
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Description

An experimental biography of the ceramics entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood that reveals the tenuous relationship of eighteenth-century England to late-capitalist modernity.

Melancholy Wedgwood traces the multiple strands in the life of the ceramic entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) to propose an alternative view of eighteenth-century England’s tenuous relationship to our own lives and times, amid the ruins of late-capitalist modernity. 

Through intimate vignettes and essays, and in writing at turns funny, sharp, and pensive, Iris Moon chips away at the mythic image of Wedgwood as singular genius, business titan, and benevolent abolitionist, revealing an amorphous, fragile, and perhaps even shattered life. In the process the book goes so far as to dismantle certain entrenched social and economic assumptions, not least that the foundational myths of capitalism might not be quite so rosy after all, and instead induce a feeling that could only be characterized as blue.

About the Author

Iris Moon is Assistant Curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is the author of Luxury after the Terror and coeditor with Richard Taws of Time, Media, and Visuality in Post-Revolutionary France. She teaches at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

Praise for Melancholy Wedgwood

“The book explores [Josiah Wedgwood’s] life in a disabled body (his right leg was amputated because of smallpox), his impulse to look for and create materials that would last forever, his support of the abolitionist cause, and it interrogates the project of biography itself, asking 'What does one do with the narrative leftovers … inadvertently left behind as the fragile remains of the past?' Moon, assistant curator in European Sculpture and Decorative Arts department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, collects the fragments and assembles a new vessel to hold the life and times of this man, and in doing so, reveals to us something of ourselves right now.”
The Boston Globe