Aspects of Domestic Interiors, 1850–1920





The home has been variously described as “a stage for social theater,” “the cloak of the soul,” and “the bedrock of national morality and identity.” Taking such metaphors as a starting point, this course examines themes in the construction and representation of the domestic environment from about 1850 to 1920. The focus is on British interiors, but reference is made to American and European developments where appropriate. Period styles and major design movements are considered. The aim of the course is to move beyond the formal analysis of stylistic change to consider the expression of class, status, and gender, and of cultural concepts such as comfort, domesticity, hygiene, privacy, and national identity. Apart from examining examples of surviving/reconstructed interiors, students are encouraged to engage directly with a wide variety of source materials, from trade catalogues, manuals of household taste, inventories, and house plans to novels, paintings, photography, and film. 3 credits.