Monograph looks at women and Victorian art criticism
John Paul M. Kanwit, associate professor of English, is author of “Victorian Art Criticism and the Woman Writer,” a scholarly monograph published by The Ohio State University Press.
Kanwit examines the development of specialized art commentary in a period when art education became a national concern in Britain. Unlike most other scholarship which has been restricted to a narrow collection of male writers on art: John Ruskin, Walter Pater, William Morris, and Oscar Wilde, Kanwit includes influential but now lesser-known critics such as Anna Jameson, Elizabeth Eastlake and Emilia Dilke. By focusing on critical debates rather than celebrated figures, “Victorian Art Criticism and the Woman Writer” refines the conception of when and how art criticism became a professional discipline in Britain. Jameson and Eastlake began to professionalize art criticism well before the 1860s, the date commonly ascribed to the professionalization of the discipline. These women critics represent an alternative approach that developed the modern conception of art history. This more inclusive view of Victorian art criticism provides insights into Victorian literary and aesthetic culture.