A series of five free online monthly readings and discussions, between January and May 2024.
Following our two previous winter series, focused on Ruskin’s writing on Venice and on Craft & Craftsmanship, and as 2024 begins with conflict and injustice in too many parts of the world, we turn our attention to the four essays in Ruskin’s seminal work on political economy, Unto This Last, published in 1862.
An outcry against injustice and inhumanity, the book was hard-hitting enough to cause a huge storm of indignant opposition in Britain when it was published and it marked a key shift in the public understanding of Ruskin as a trenchant and, as it turned out, prophetic social critic. His fierce assault on the prevailing business practices that underpinned the new mercantile wealth that unfettered industrial capitalism was enabling in Victorian Britain, remains as relevant today, in a world of gross inequality, exploitation and environmental degradation, as it was in his time.
Considered by Ruskin as one of his most important works, Unto This Last argues that economics, art and science must have a foundation in morality. Join us as a variety of voices read from the work that best expands on the central argument of Ruskin’s philosophy, 'There is no Wealth but Life.'
Saturday 17 February 11am UK time - 'The Veins of Wealth'
ZOOM LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87119947708
Convenor: Arjun Shivaji Jain
Julia Bolton Holloway
Julia is in Florence, directing the English Cemetery and its Library, creating websites and limited edition books as well as the Academia Bessarion. Formerly a professor of Medieval Studies in America with a Ph.D. from Berkeley, she was born in Marylebone, London, and now care-takes Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb and beside it that of Fanny Holman Hunt. She has published books on Dante Alighieri, his teacher, Brunetto Latino, and women, including Julian of Norwich, Birgitta of Sweden, Christine de Pizan and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, this last for Penguin. She works with skilled Roma who restore the Cemetery's tombs and teaches them the alphabet.
Peter is a Director of Ruskin’s Guild of St George and holds the portfolios for International Relationships (the Guild has members in 12 countries) and for Craftsmanship & Craftspeople. He is an architectural historian and archivist. He has alternated between working for major heritage organisations (Council for the Care of Churches/Cathedrals and National Trust for Scotland) and teaching in two universities, York (England) and Cottbus (Germany). He chaired the Fabric Committees of Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral, London, for twenty years, and that of Lincoln Cathedral for seven years.
Arjun Shivaji Jain
Arjun is a Companion and formerly Young Companions' Representative of the Guild of St George. Trained in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee and Art and Science from Central Saint Martins in London, he is at present Director of the Red House cultural centre in New Delhi. He has worked in various capacities in various fields in his life, though all prompted in fact from a critical reading of Ruskin's Unto This Last in 2014, which enabled him to accept economics as a valid field of study. He is an advocate for a rich manual as well as intellectual life.
See biography HERE.
Helen was born in Sheffield and became a Companion in 2015 after
volunteering at the Pop-Up Museum in Walkley. She contributed to many
“Ruskin in Sheffield” events and collated research for the Guild
publication “Genevieve Pilley: 50 years’ devotion to Ruskin at the
Meersbrook Museum”. She has degrees in Philosophy and Software
Engineering and has taught in adult and higher education. Presently she
is involved in uncovering Arts and Crafts tiles in the church at her
new, much loved home of Youlgrave (where purple veined rock has been
exploited for centuries)!
Saturday 9 March 11am UK time - 'Qui Judicatis Terram'
Convenor: Peter Burman
Tuesday 16 April 6pm UK time - 'Ad Valorem' (part 1)
Convenor: Prof James L Spates
Tuesday 7 May 6pm UK time - 'Ad Valorem' (part 2)
Convenor: Prof James L Spates
Tuesday 16 January 6pm UK time - 'The Roots of Honour'
WATCH THE VIDEO RECORDING HERE
Participants in the first session were:
Peter is a Director of Ruskin’s Guild of St George and holds the portfolios for International
Relationships (the Guild has members in 12 countries) and for Craftsmanship &
Craftspeople. He is an architectural historian and archivist. He has alternated between
working for major heritage organisations (Council for the Care of Churches/Cathedrals and
National Trust for Scotland) and teaching in two universities, York (England) and Cottbus
(Germany). He chaired the Fabric Committees of Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral, London, for
twenty years, and that of Lincoln Cathedral for seven years.
Dion is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Birmingham interested in literary
responses to ecological crises. He is currently working on interdisciplinary and educational
projects on forests and literature with the Guild of St George and the Birmingham Institute
of Forest Research (BIFoR) at Ruskin Land in the Wyre Forest National Nature Reserve. His
PhD explored forest ecology in fantasy literature through a series of immersive readings and
workshops in Ruskin Land.
Matt Sowerby is a writer and environmental activist from Cumbria and the Fundraising Coordinator
for the Save Ruskin's View Campaign. He is also the Climate Action-lead in National Trust’s Regional
Advisory Board for North England, and Director of Kirkby Lonsdale Poetry Festival — the first of
which took place in 2022. As a poet, Matt has earned the titles of National Youth Slam Champion
(2018) and National University Slam Champion (2023) and his writing was exhibited at the UN
Headquarters in New York in 2022.
Andreas is an Architect, running RKA office in Dresden, Germany, working on existing
buildings and protected monuments. Began career as Stonemason in Cologne; studied at
the Academy of Fine Arts Berlin, Dep. of Architecture and Sculpture. 1995 to 2000 he
worked on Axel Schultes`s new Bundeskanzleramt in Berlin as a quantity surveyor and head
of construction. 2000 to 2008 he worked at TU-Dresden, as scientific collaborator, Dep.
“Denkmalpflege + Entwerfen”. 2010 he was at Kulturstiftung Dessau-Wörlitz, Head of
Monuments and Buildings. Since 2011 he has practised architecture while teaching part-
time. In 2022 he received the „Staatspreis für Architektur Sachsen“ (1. Preis) for a group-
work of TU-Dresden for Design and Integration of Flood-Protection Walls in Grimma.
Simon is the part-time Membership & Communications officer for the Guild of St George,
working with his administrator colleague and the volunteer Board of Directors to run the
charity and manage its members (Companions) and events. He first encountered the poetic
majesty of Ruskin’s writing while an art history student at the University of Warwick, during
which time he lived and studied in Venice for four months. For 19 years he worked at
Chatsworth, the historic estate and art collection in Derbyshire’s Peak District, and he has
also worked for a chamber music festival in Sheffield and theatre in Nottingham. Alongside
his work with the Guild, Simon is a cultural lecturer and a Life Coach in private practice.
The entire text, from the Complete Works:
Also available via Wikisource:
We recommend Clive Wilmer’s introduction to the Penguin edition Unto This Last and other writings (1985; reprinted with revised Further Reading,1997 and reprinted as On Art and Life (Penguin Books – Great Ideas, 2004))
Brown, Judith M., ‘Reading Unto This Last – A Transformative Experience: Gandhi in South Africa’, in Rachel Dickinson and Keith Hanley (eds.), Ruskin’s Struggle for Coherence: Self-Representation through Art, Place and Society (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2006), Ch.10, 154-165.
Jay, Elisabeth and Richard (eds.), Critics of Capitalism: Victorian Reactions to “Political Economy”’ (Cambridge University Press, 1986). 7, ‘John Ruskin (1819-1900)’, 137-161. [‘Ad Valorem’, essay IV of Unto This Last, with introduction]
O’Gorman, Francis, ‘“Suppose it were your own father of whom you spoke”: Ruskin’s Unto This Last’, Review of English Studies, 51, no.202, 2000, 230-247.
Shuman, Cathy, Pedagogical economies: the examination and the Victorian literary man (Stanford University Press, 2000). Ch.3. 'The Productive Consumption of Unto This Last '
Wong, Daniel, ‘Toward a Postsecular Economy: John Ruskin’s Unto This Last’, Nineteenth-Century Contexts, Vol.34, No.3, July 2012, 217-235.
We are grateful to Prof Stephen Wildman for this list.
All the sessions will be video recorded and made available via the Guild website in due course.