Undergraduate Seminar: The Arts and Crafts Movement
Thursday | 9:00 - 12:00pm
“I do not want art for a few, any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.” William Morris, 1877
Is art essential to human happiness? What is the role of art in everyday life? Can machines make art? Is there a difference between art and craft? What is the relationship between art and the society that produces it?
These were just a few of the questions that motivated the Arts and Crafts movement and they are questions that we still grapple with in 2019. In this seminar, we will study the Arts and Crafts movement in depth, from its origins in the Victorian period to its continuing influence in the present day. The course explores both the theoretical contributions of Arts and Crafts thinkers and the movement’s diverse artistic output. We look at architecture, interior decoration, textiles, glass, ceramics, sculptures, paintings, illustrations, and book design. We discuss the political dimensions of the movement, including its environmentalism, critiques of industrial capitalism, and responses to imperialism, as well as the involvement of women artists, for example in campaigns for voting rights. Close attention will be given to the Arts and Crafts movement’s links with Socialism, represented most famously by artist, writer, and activist William Morris. We investigate connections with other episodes in the history of modern art, including the Pre-Raphaelites, Art Nouveau, Post-Impressionism, and the Bauhaus. We also consider the afterlives of Arts and Crafts in the present, exemplified by a high-street fashion store’s recent launch of Morris-inspired clothing and ongoing debates about restoration following the destruction of the iconic Glasgow School of Art in a 2018 fire. The syllabus includes local field trips.
This course fulfills the following major requirements: Geographical Area (A) and Chronological period (III).