Iris Moon, "Melancholy Wedgwood" (MIT Press, 2024)

The MIT Press Podcast

26-05-2024 • 1 hora 12 min

Melancholy Wedgwood (MIT Press, 2024) is an experimental biography of the ceramics entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood that reveals the tenuous relationship of eighteenth-century England to late-capitalist modernity. It traces the multiple strands in the life of the ceramic entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795) to propose an alternative view of eighteenth-century England's tenuous relationship to our own lives and times, amid the ruins of late-capitalist modernity. Through intimate vignettes and essays, and in writing at turns funny, sharp, and pensive, Iris Moon chips away at the mythic image of Wedgwood as singular genius, business titan, and benevolent abolitionist, revealing an amorphous, fragile, and perhaps even shattered life. In the process the book goes so far as to dismantle certain entrenched social and economic assumptions, not least that the foundational myths of capitalism might not be quite so rosy after all, and instead induce a feeling that could only be characterized as blue. Iris Moon is Associate Curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is the author of Luxury after the Terror and coeditor with Richard Taws of Time, Media, and Visuality in Post-Revolutionary France. She teaches at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Rachel Pafe is a writer and researcher interested in modern Jewish thought, critical theories of mourning, and the boundaries of biographical writing.