Joseph Wright and the Enlightenment in the Midlands

Ref: C2342752

The artist, Joseph Wright of Derby (1734-97) mixed as freely with scientists, engineers and industrialists as he did with other artists. His paintings reflect the contributions then being made in the Midlands to the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. This course will look at how Wright's career developed in the burgeoning British art scene of the late 18th century, but also use his paintings to explore developments in philosophy, science, technology and industrialisation across the Midlands and beyond. Focusing on one painting each week, we will explore topics ranging from the Lunar Society and the early industrial projects of Arkwright, Boulton and Wedgwood, to the philosophical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the explorations of James Cook. The course includes a visit to Derby to view the Joseph Wright collection at the local museum and other sites associated with the artist and his circle.

Course aim

This course will look at the career of the Artist, Joseph Wright, and use his paintings to explore the extraordinary role played by the Midlands in the development of philosophy, science, technology and industrialisation in the late 18th century.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify a range of paintings by Joseph Wright and describe how they fit in the development of his career
  • Describe how the paintings can be seen to reflect developments more generally in art, as well as philosophy, science and technology
  • Form an opinion as to the merit of Wright as an artist and his place in British art

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

Joseph Wright and the Enlightenment in the Midlands

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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