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“Feeling for Beauty”

Parkins, Wendy J. (2015) “Feeling for Beauty”. The Senses and Society, 10 (1). pp. 26-38. ISSN 1745-8927. E-ISSN 1745-8935. (doi:10.2752/174589315X14161614601646) (KAR id:62014)


May Morris (1862–1938), renowned craftswoman and daughter of William Morris, had an unconventional Victorian childhood in a home where all the members of the family were engaged in various forms of aesthetic labor, either as amateurs or professionals, and shared an aesthetic philosophy that blended the artisanal and the experimental from which would develop the Arts and Crafts movement. This article will examine the fragmentary recollections of her childhood recorded by May Morris in the introductions she wrote for the twenty-four-volume edition of The Collected Works of William Morris as a rich resource for Victorian sensory history because of the emphasis she places on the development of the child's sensorium, especially in relation to touch as the vital sense that linked family intimacy with creative activity. Employing the term “tactile aesthetics,” I show how, in the Morris household, the pleasurable sensual apprehension of the objects or materials worked by the hands of the craftsperson was inseparable from the complex feelings of connection with others. In such an environment, a feeling for beauty comprised a vital component of habitus, the embodied knowledges and aptitudes that, according to Pierre Bourdieu, are acquired from earliest childhood through the practices of everyday life within a specific social setting.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.2752/174589315X14161614601646
Uncontrolled keywords: tactile aesthetics, emotions, embroidery, habitus, Arts & crafts movement
Subjects: N Visual Arts > NX Arts in general
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Wendy Parkins
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2017 15:00 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2021 13:15 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Parkins, Wendy J..

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