Messy Subjectivities: The Popular, Affective and Technical Consistencies of Early Nineteenth-Century Staffordshire Ware

Nicole De Brabandere

Abstract


This article investigates how Staffordshire figurines and dinnerware, which were popular in early nineteenth-century England and its colonies, were complicit in forging emergent social, aesthetic and subjective consciousness. Staffordshire ware was influenced by diverse technical, economic and aesthetic factors, including the circulation of print media, private property, colonialism and Romanticism. At the same time, the wares both engendered Romantic versions of subjectivity that amplified the importance of the private individual, while generating emergent sites of contestation that exceeded them. The collection of Staffordshire figurines and dinnerware was a media and technical consistency where owners could inhabit the tensions of at times conflicting social, material, affective and performative affinities or antagonisms. This discussion draws from Walter Benjamin to develop a way of thinking with how the material and media specificity of Staffordshire ware could have co-composed heterogeneous knowledges, practices and subjectivities that undermined the Romantic individual. By examining the multifaceted qualities, affects and contexts of Staffordshire ware in detail I aim to develop new terms and practices with which to activate emergent versions of historicity, corporeality and world-making.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5130/csr.v23i2.5075

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