The Mirror of Everyday Life: William Morris’s Book Collecting and the
October 16, 3:30 pm
CMU 202 (Simpson Center Seminar Room)
In accordance with his historical, aesthetic, and political theories,
William Morris’s collection of medieval manuscripts, early printed books,
and books about medieval art and material culture were meant to be
experienced as art-objects, as reading copies, and as texts that provided a
broad and stimulating picture of the everyday life of the past. In addition
to their status as exemplars to support Morris’s historical and social
theories, his library of (mostly German, but also French, Dutch and
English) incunabula and manuscripts served to influence the design of books at his Kelmscott Press and thus by extension the entire small press
movement. This lecture will draw on original research into Morris’s
collecting practices to chart the influence of his library on his and his
collaborators’ theories in the field of book design, and to outline some of
the literary and historical principles on which the wide-ranging canon of
Kelmscott texts was based.
Yuri Cowan is Professor in the Department of Language and Literature at
the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, specializing in book history, nineteenth-century literature, and
medievalism. He has published articles on topics including William Morris;
the Aesthetic Movement; ballad anthologies and the history of editing;
Victorian sporting periodicals; and the reprinting of Victorian fantasy in
the 1970s. His current book project is entitled William Morris and
Medieval Material Culture, and he is beginning to write about the
portrayal of book technology in science fiction. He is also a founding
editor of the online peer-reviewed open-access journal Authorship.
Reception to follow. All are welcome.
Cosponsored by the Textual Studies Program, the Art History Department, the 18th and 19th Century Graduate Research Cluster, and CMEMS.