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Sustainable Socialism: William Morris on Waste

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While William Morris has long been recognized for his radical approach to the problem of labor, which built on the ideas of John Ruskin and informed his contributions to the Arts and Crafts philosophy, his ideas about waste have received much less attention. This article suggests that the Kelmscott Press, which Morris founded in 1891, was designed to embody the values of durability and sustainability in sharp contrast to the neophilia, disposability, and planned obsolescence of capitalist production. Many critics have dismissed the political value of Kelmscott Press on the basis of the handcrafted books' expense and rarity, but by considering Morris's work for Kelmscott in light of his fictional and non-fictional writings about waste around the time of the press's conception, we can see how Kelmscott laid the groundwork for a philosophy of sustainable socialism.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/174967811X12949160068974

Publication date: March 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Modern Craft is the first peer-reviewed academic journal to provide an interdisciplinary and international forum on the subject of craft. It addresses all forms of making that self-consciously set themselves apart from mass production— whether in the making of designed objects, artworks, buildings, or other artifacts.

    The journal covers craft in all its historical and contemporary manifestations. This ranges from the mid-nineteenth century, when handwork was first consciously framed in opposition to industrialization, through to the present time, when ideas once confined to the “applied arts” have come to seem vital across a huge range of cultural activities. Special emphasis is placed on studio practice, and on the transformations of indigenous forms of craft activity throughout the world. The journal also reviews and analyzes the relevance of craft within new media, folk art, architecture, design, contemporary art, and other fields.

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