Iris Moon will discuss here forthcoming book entitled Melancholy Wedgwood, 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.
The Berlage Sessions, a seven-part seminar series entitled “About the Book,” examines recent scholarship and their respective book production, from building biographies and academic anthologies to memoirs and novels. Topics will include El Lissitzky’s project for a “horizontal skyscraper,” a meditative tour of a family’s house on the Sardinian Coast, an account of the life and work of the architect Minoru Yamasaki, the role of modernism and material culture played in the aspiring Black American middle class of the early twentieth century, a critical-paranoid investigation of the paradoxes of OMA’s enigmatic Villa Dall’Ava, the emergence of world histories of architecture, and the tenuous relationship of eighteenth-century England to late-capitalist modernity through the lives and times of ceramics entrepreneur Josiah Wedgewood. The series will conclude with a reflection on how and for whom is architectural history is written.