248 pp., 6 x 9 in, 85 b&w illus., 14 color plates
- Published: January 23, 2024
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An experimental biography of the ceramics entrepreneur Josiah Wedgwood that reveals the tenuous relationship of eighteenth-century England to late-capitalist modernity.
Melancholy Wedgwood 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.