The Thing-Cultures of Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy and William Morris’s News from Nowhere


Teapot, Josiah Wedgewood and Sons (1840). By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Teapot, Josiah Wedgewood and Sons (1840). By Daderot (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Objects are not only material things, but embody ideas and emotions. In her article for the new issue of the Postgraduate English journal, Caroline Warner (University of Sussex) looks at the way in which William Morris and Matthew Arnold represent objects in their works Culture and Anarchy and News From Nowhere. These texts are packed with ‘things’, but each writer rejects the commodity clutter that characterised the Victorian period.

This paper considers Matthew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy alongside William Morris’s News from Nowhere through the lens of Bill Brown’s Thing Theory. From the ‘things’ of Arnold’s primarily object-less ideas to the ‘things’ of Morris’s primarily idea-less objects, the author argues that each writer rejects nineteenth-century commodity culture in order to imagine establishing new orders of the material and immaterial.

This article is freely available in the new issue of Postgraduate English, one of the UK’s leading journals publishing literary research by postgraduates. The Call for Papers for the next issue is now out, and all postgraduates or early-career researchers are invited to contribute.

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