Samuel Baker, 'Wedgwood Gothic'
Fri, September 11, 2009 • 3:00 PM • Tom Lea Rooms, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center 3.206
In the mid-eighteenth century, the partners Josiah Wedgwood and Thomas Bentley established in their pottery business a model for modern industry and mass marketing. Yet while Wedgwood's innovations were crucial to the industrial revolution, in fashioning his earthenware Wedgwood drew significantly on neoclassical and gothic traditions.
Wedgwood's partner, Bentley, a leading connoisseur of classical culture whose learning informed Wedgwood's forms and their decoration, also fostered the talent of a young girl who would grow up to be the novelist most responsible for the gothic revival in fiction: Ann Radcliffe. What does it mean for our understanding of gothic literature to see its incubation in this very British milieu of early industrial neoclassicism?
Samuel Baker is an Associate Professor of English and a Junior Fellow of British Studies. He was an undergraduate at Columbia, received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and has just returned from a year as a Fellow at Cornell University's Society for the Humanities. His first book, Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture, will be published later this year.