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The Outward MindMaterialist Aesthetics in Victorian Science and Literature$
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Benjamin Morgan

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226442112

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226457468.001.0001

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Practice: William Morris’s Socialist Physiology

Practice: William Morris’s Socialist Physiology

(p.174) 4 Practice: William Morris’s Socialist Physiology
The Outward Mind

Benjamin Morgan

University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows how William Morris’s book design, lectures on art, and literary romances including News from Nowhere contested certain aspects of the scientific approaches to aesthetics while embracing others. Like Victorian physiologists, Morris was highly attentive to the corporeal dimensions of aesthetic experience, but his work is usually interpreted as opposed to scientific models of the self, especially to the sociobiological libertarian individualism purveyed by Herbert Spencer’s The Man versus the State. Focusing on the modes of somatic interaction invited by the books, objects, and patterns Morris crafted, and drawing on scholarship in book history, the chapter argues that Morris privileged practices of making that resonated with the materialism of physiological aesthetics, but that distinctively insisted on the political possibilities that were opened up by a community’s awareness of its shared embodiment.

Keywords:   William Morris, Herbert Spencer, News from Nowhere, practice, individualism, craft, somatic, romance, book history

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