William Morris and the Aesthetic Constitution of Politics

William Morris and the Aesthetic Constitution of Politics

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Bradley Macdonald offers a brilliant reappraisal of one of the most influential and revered British intellectuals of the Victorian age. William Morris was, by turns, an artist, writer, social critic, and political radical who shaped both the British (Fabian) socialist tradition and the internationally influential arts and crafts movement. Macdonald focuses on the interplay between Morris's aesthetic vision and his socialist ideology. He argues compellingly that because these two sides of Morris's personality and career are generally considered separately, by art or literary historians on the one hand, and social theorists on the other, their integral relationship has often been neglected. Thus, Morris's career is divided artificially between a 'Romantic' early period and a later 'revolutionary socialist' phase. In place of this model, Macdonald offers a holistic portrait of Morris as a lifelong 'materialist aestheticist'that is, one who believed in the redemptive power of beautiful objects and everyday, simple pleasures for all classes. This important book is strongly recommended reading for anyone with an interest in modern British culture, politics, and art, as well as for students of Marxist ideology in the West.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 156 x 235 x 16mm | 431g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739100556
  • 9780739100554

Review quote

William Morris and the Aesthetic Constitution of Politics is noteworthy among first books because Macdonald has a passion for his subject and a subject worthy of passion: an example of pleasure in labor. Victorian Studiesshow more

About Bradley J. MacDonald

Bradley J. Macdonald is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Colorado State University. He is also a founder and editor of Strategies: A Journal of Theory, Culture, and Politics.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1 The Question of Cultural Politics Chapter 2 The Great Exhibition and the Class Politics of Art Chapter 3 Towards a Political Economy of Art: John Ruskin and the Representation of Labor in Aesthetic Theory Chapter 4 Constituing in Aesthetic Self: Medievalism, Pre-Raphaelism, and Morris's Early Aesthetic Education Chapter 5 Aesthetic Theory and Political Subjectivities: Morris's Early Aesthetic Education Chapter 6 Aesthetic Theory and Political Subjectivities: Morris's Lectures on Art. Chapter 7 The Political Theory of William Morris: Revolutionary Socialism, Utopian Practicalities, and the Beauty of Life Chapter 8 Morris and Western Marxismshow more