The Power of Design: Indoctrination of Class and Domestic Ideals in William Morris's Kelmscott Chaucer 公开

Cortner, Sierra Briana (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ms35t951p?locale=zh
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Abstract

This thesis considers the Kelmscott Chaucer, or William Morris and Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones's presentation of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, as a physical object. For this project, I acknowledge Burne-Jones's statement in a letter to author Charles Eliot Norton where he describes the book as a "pocket cathedral." Hence, I analyze the Kelmscott Chaucer's architectural functions like use (utilitas), layout / materials (firmitas), and artistry (venustas) to understand the book's physicality. This physical presentation of Chaucer's text exists as a luxury product (utilitas) only afforded by the burgeoning middle-class since the materials sourced for its production (firmitas) increased costs. Addressing this simile helps us understand the Kelmscott Chaucer's role as a cultural product of the Victorian Industrial Revolution and the significance of its individual contributors. Furthermore, I claim that, like a cathedral, the Kelmscott Chaucer indoctrinates its viewers.

In Annie Davis's dissertation for Baylor University "The Kelmscott Chaucer: William Morris's Quest for the Medieval Reader," she argues that "Morris's work anticipates the detachment of the work of art, and the viewer, from its authentic presence, or 'aura'" (Davis 1). However, in my assertion of the architecture claim, this product cannot be disjointed from the work of art (venustas), or Morris's ornamentations and Burne-Jones's illustrations. Thus, after stressing the significance of the venustas, I argue that the book indoctrinates ideas of class and domestic stability. With these architectural elements in mind, I stress that the Kelmscott Chaucer, with its woodcut interpretations of Chaucer's text, creates comforting imagery for the burgeoning middle-class affected by the social complexities that their nouveau niche perpetuated. In total, these illustrations utilize Chaucer's text to glorify knighthood and home in on the traditional roles of women within the private sphere. I arrive at this conclusion in three chapters, the first which offers insight into the consumption of this product while the latter two analyze the illustrations of "The Knight's Tale" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale." Altogether, they show how the Kelmscott Press morphed Chaucer's text from estate satire into a physical entity that inculcated the ideas of class distinction and separate spheres.

Table of Contents

List of Images.........................................................................................................1

Introduction............................................................................................................2

Chapter One: Consumption of Victorian Illustrated Books..............................................21

Chapter Two: Analysis of "The General Prologue" and "The Knight's Tale".......................39

Chapter Three: Analysis of "The Wife of Bath's Prologue" and "The Wife of Bath's Tale"....62

Conclusion.............................................................................................................79

Bibliography..........................................................................................................81

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