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Monday, June 02, 2014
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Dabney Hall 110 (Treasure Room)

Materialities, Texts and Images (MTI) Workshop

Knowledge and the Cultivation of Tastes in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

This one-day workshop will interrogate the interplay in the eighteenth century between the cultivation of taste and the making of knowledge.

The eighteenth century witnessed an extraordinary florescence in the discourses and practices for cultivating good taste, particularly where sensory gratification was concerned, leading to highly developed and even 'scientific' attempts to fix tastes for art, literature, food, music, entertainments and attire. As scholars have shown in recent decades, these developments occurred in a close relationship to the discourses and practices of the empirical sciences. Both were realms which required participants to successfully demonstrate that they could manage their senses, focusing them on appropriate, worthy objects and deriving from them appropriate affective responses.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars working on the wide range of eighteenth century discourses and practices in which the concerns of taste and sensation, widely construed, were implicated in the making of knowledge. These could include the visual and plastic arts, interior design and decoration, consumer goods, the publication of prints and books, the eighteenth century neurosciences and (widely dispersed) responses to neurological disorders, discussions about the appropriate consumption of food, debates about musical taste and so-on.

In the intimate setting of a one-day workshop, scholars working on a wide range of these topics will be able to learn from and inform each other's work. The workshop will also consider some present-day echoes of eighteenth century attempts to make sciences of taste and their implications for our own work.

The speakers will be:

  • Timothy Costelloe, Department of Philosophy, William and Mary College
  • Elizabeth Eger, Department of English, King's College London
  • Matthew Hunter, Department of Art History & Communication Studies, McGill University
  • Joanna Stalnaker, Department of French and Romance Philology, Columbia University
  • Michael Yonan, University of Missouri, Columbia, and Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study, Uppsala

The workshop will be hosted by Caltech and the Huntington Library as part of the Materialities, Texts and Images Program. It is being arranged by Alexander Wragge-Morley, one of the two MTI fellows, and will be hosted by him alongside Steve Hindle, W.M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at the Huntington Library, and John Brewer, Eli and Edye Broad Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences; Professor of History and Literature.

Here's the link to the workshop website -

For more information, please contact Sabrina Boschetti by phone at 626-395-4228 or by email at