The Aesthetic Movement: Designing Modernity, 1865–1905


Spring 2014


5th Floor Classroom


Paul Stirton

This course examines manifestations of modernity in British design, from the Aesthetic movement of the 1860s to the New Art tendencies of about 1900, with reference to interior decoration, furniture design, dress, graphics, stained glass, metalwork, and ceramics. Emphasis will be placed on such figures as E. W. Godwin, James McNeill Whistler, Christopher Dresser, Oscar Wilde, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and their contributions to concepts of modernity in design and “artistic” taste. Theoretical and philosophical debates relating to style, design, and dress reform will be studied through the writings of various 19th-century authors. Issues to be addressed include the expression of spirituality, gender relations, and individualism through the design of objects and spaces; the role of the new art and architectural press; modernity and the city; the development of “artistic” manufactures, galleries, and retail outlets; performance and parody; the literature of design reform and household taste; artists’ and collectors’ houses; the aesthetics of orientalism, internationalism, and regionalism. 3 credits.