Teaching William Morris, an excellent new essay collection edited by Jason D. Martinek and Elizabeth Carolyn Miller, is in fact more broadly useful to Morris scholars than its title implies. The book explores the ways in which teaching can take one's research in unexpected and exciting new directions. This valuable volume provides both instruction and inspiration.
Divided into five sections, this volume from editors Martinek (New Jersey City Univ.) and Miller (Univ. of California, Davis) presents a range of perspectives from 20 scholars on the life and work of William Morris. The editors have approached Morris's work holistically, addressing the multidimensional aspects of his many fields of study in the Victorian era. Although most of the essays reinforce the notion that Morris is difficult to teach, undergraduate and graduate students will benefit from his oeuvre as they analyze his conscious rejections of social, aesthetic, and political forms in his literary writings. Morris’s critical hope will help students imagine a better world. In sum, teachers will find all 19 chapters packed with ideas and valuable notes that extend beyond an instructor’s basic knowledge. For example, chapter 19 in the book's final section, titled "Digital Humanities," uses the William Morris Archive as well as artifacts of the Arts and Crafts movement employing Google images to demonstrate that technology and art overlap. Ultimately, by studying Morris students can glean new connections to the past that offer inspiration for the present. This text is especially valuable for interprofessional study.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals.— Choice Reviews
Jason D. Martinek and Elizabeth Carolyn Miller’s edited collection Teaching William Morris makes good on just about everything it promises, which is no small feat given the range and diversity of Morris’s interests and artistic endeavors. The collection aims to provide the “connective tissue” missing from so many approaches to teaching Morris that focus on a part rather than the whole of his work (3). As its title makes clear, this is a book about teaching Morris, and it offers a rich set of essays that cover multiple sites of teaching—from university extension programs in the early twentieth century, to the Hull-House Labor Museum in Chicago and workshops at the Kelmscott House Museum in Hammersmith for school-aged children, to undergraduate and graduate courses at a variety of postsecondary institutions—and multiple paths and modes for introducing students to Morris and capturing the expansiveness of his career.