The Department of English at Misericordia University is presenting, "Wallpapers, Thermometers and Handkerchiefs: Ornamental Objects, the Decorative Arts and the Victorian Novel,'' by Tricia Zakreski, Ph.D., as a master class for students and a speaking engagement for the public on Wednesday, Oct. 25 at noon in the Catherine Evans McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library. Friends of the library will serve light refreshments.
Dr. Zakreski is a senior lecturer in Victorian literature and culture at the University of Exeter, UK, where her work focuses on the interactions of different forms of art in the 19th century and the interplay between aesthetics and economics. During her speaking engagement, she will discuss Charlotte Perkins Gilman's well-known story, "The Yellow Wallpaper,'' that was written in 1892. It is perhaps the most famous story ever written about the horrors of bad interior design choices. The yellow wallpaper's grotesque color and poorly conceived pattern drives the narrator mad, thus disturbing and infecting the private domestic space and making it appear to come to life.
Gillman's gothic story was just one of a number of Victorian narratives that explored the influence of well or poorly designed everyday objects on people. In her talk, Dr. Zakreski is going to discuss some of these objects and how beauty was a crucial part of everyday life in the later decades of the 19th century. The author and educator also will describe the importance of the notion of beauty and being creatively associated with the decorative arts for authors in this period.
Dr. Zakreski currently is writing a monograph on the relationship between authorship and the decorative arts in the second half of the 19th century. She is the author of the following books: "Crafting the Woman Professional in the Long Nineteenth Century: Artistry and Industry in Britain'' (2013), "What is a Woman to Do? A Reader on Women, Work and Art, C. 1830-90'' (2010), and Representing Female Artistic Labour 1848-1890: Refining Work for the Middle Class Woman'' (2006).