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The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture

This memorial lecture was planned as one of the commemorative events of the tenth anniversary of the Ruskin Library of Tokyo in 1994. The Ruskin Library of Tokyo had three projects for the commemoration: firstly, a 'Ruskin Symposium' in Tokyo, secondly, the publication of Ruskin's Letters in the Mikimoto Collection, and, finally, setting up a special lecture in memory of Ryuzo Mikimoto in the Ruskin Programme at Lancaster University (now the Ruskin Library and Research Centre). The Trustees of the Ruskin Library in Tokyo donated two million yen to the Ruskin Programme of Lancaster University to establish the Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture to be held annually, using interest accruing from the fund. James S. Dearden, the then Curator of the Ruskin Galleries, Bembridge School, gave the first lecture on "Ruskin To-Day" on 24th October 1995, referring to Mikimoto's Ruskin studies and the Ruskin Library of Tokyo. Since then, the lecture series has continued on ten occasions by internationally distinguished Ruskin scholars.

This lecture programme is nowadays an important legacy of Ryuzo Mikimoto at Lancaster University, along with the Mikimoto Gift at the Ruskin Library, and a symbolic event in memory of a man from the Far East, who devoted his whole life to John Ruskin without attachment to any wealth, which was inherited from his father, Kokichi Mikimoto, the 'Pearl King'



Previous Lectures

The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2017

was held on Thursday 16 November, 6.00 pm, in the Cavendish Lecture Theatre (Faraday Building), Lancaster University

Speaker: Dr Nicholas Shrimpton (Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford)

Title: Ruskin and His Critics

How was Ruskin criticised? And how did he respond to criticism? Was he arrogantly indifferent or morbidly sensitive? With particular attention to his work in the 1850s (especially the last three volumes of Modern Painters and the Academy Notes) this lecture will argue that response to opposition was a key feature of his mode of discourse.

Nicholas Shrimpton is an Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where he was previously Fellow & Tutor in English and Vice-Principal. His writing on Ruskin includes the Encyclopaedia Britannica article on his work (15th edition, 2002 printing and EB ON-Line), ‘Ruskin and the Aesthetes’ in Dinah Birch, ed., Ruskin and the Dawn of the Modern (1999), Ruskin and ‘War’ (Guild of St George, 2014), and the essays on ‘Italy’ and ‘Politics and Economics’ in The Cambridge Companion to John Ruskin (2015). Other recent publications are ‘Bric-à-brac or Architectonicè? Fragment and Form in Victorian Literature’ in Shears & Harrison, Literary Bric-à-brac and the Victorians (2013), the ‘Matthew Arnold’ chapter in The Oxford History of Classical Reception in English Literature (2015), and editions of Trollope’s The Prime Minister (2011), The Warden (2014), and An Autobiography (2014), and Disraeli’s Sybil (2017) for Oxford World’s Classics. He is currently at work on the new OWC edition of the poems of William Blake.


Click here to watch the recording of the lecture.


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2016

was held on Thursday 17 November 2016, 6.15 p.m. in the Management School, Lecture Theatre 1, Lancaster University

Speaker: Professor William Whyte (University of Oxford)

Title: Ruskin: Language and Architecture

St Mark’s in Venice, Ruskin once wrote, should be thought of ‘less as a temple wherein to pray, than as itself a Book of Common Prayer’. But what does it mean to say that a building is like a book? What does this say about buildings? What does it say about books? In this lecture I will explore why it was that Ruskin and his contemporaries so often saw architecture as a kind of language – and what this insight meant for the way that Victorians built and the way that Victorians wrote.

Click here to watch the recording of the lecture.


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2015

was held on Thursday 19th November at 6.15pm in the Management School Lecture Theatre 1, Lancaster University

Speaker: Professor Francis O'Gorman, University of Leeds

Title: Ruskin and Forgetting

The lecture will consider the place of forgetting in Ruskin's sustained writing on memory. Thinking in particular about his conception of architecture as a way of remembering, the lecture will explore what it might mean to be remembered only in pieces or inaccurately. Ruskin preferred these to being misunderstood, which was what he frequently found true of himself. Forgetfulness is, in turn, clarifying for Ruskin even if it is, to an extent, falsifying. And this poses an intriguing question now for the reader of Ruskin, in all his extensive multiplicity. Do we understand him better if we forget a lot?

Click here to watch the video of the lecture.


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2014

The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2014 was held on Thursday 20th November at 6.30 pm in the Frankland Lecture Theatre, Lancaster University

Speaker: Professor Dinah Birch, University of Liverpool

Title: Ruskin and the Point of Failure 

What does it mean to succeed?   For Ruskin, an acceptance of the necessity of failure and imperfection is essential to the fulfilment of human potential.  This lecture will explore the roots of this conviction, placing his ideas in the wider context of nineteenth-century religious and cultural history, and arguing that his hostility towards ideals of perfection was among the most influential and stimulating features of his thought.

Click here to watch the video of the lecture.


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2013

The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2013 was held on Thursday 14th November at 6pm, in the Cavendish Lecture Theatre, Lancaster University.

Speaker: Professor John Batchelor

Title: Ruskin among the giants

John Ruskin, 1819 – 1900, had a life span just slightly shorter than that of Queen Victoria; he and she are the two giants who span the whole of his age, and some of his most productive and fruitful interactions and disagreements are with the artists and writers who guided the central Victorian cultural energies, including Carlyle, Rossetti, Millais, Holman Hunt, Tennyson, Browning, Matthew Arnold, John Stuart Mill, Burne-Jones and G.F.Watts. 

His earliest modelling was from men who were older and in his eyes stronger, starting with his own father. The dependent relationship with John James helped shape his feelings about his first heroes, Wordsworth, Turner and, in a different way, Carlyle, who as a personal friend powerfully influenced the young Ruskin. Later, as a major critic, Ruskin became himself a father figure to the young Pre-Raphaelites, although his interaction with Millais was famously troubled by the end of his disastrous marriage. The great artists of the past whom he discovered as he worked on the successive volumes of Modern Painters  became further giants in his landscape, though not consistently: Michelangelo became a contentious figure in his later thinking, while Veronese and Tintoretto caused him to reconsider his earlier resistance to the Renaissance as whole.   As Ruskin’s enthusiasms and crusades expanded in their range after the 1870s his position among the giants became affected by his own emotional storms to a point where it becomes difficult to separate his thinking from his relationships and his circumstances.

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The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2012

This years' Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture was held at 6pm on Thursday 29th November in the Faraday Lecture Theatre, followed by a drinks reception  

Speaker: Dr Tristram Hunt, MP

Title: Ruskin, Engels and the City

The philosophies of Friedrich Engels and John Ruskin were both powerfully shaped by the Victorian city.  In its filth, vulgarity, and rampant individualism, they found a telling symbol of all the failings of industrial capitalism.  All that was wrong with laissez-faire society could be found in 1840s Manchester.  But their competing visions of a socialist alternative entailed very different futures for city life: for Engels, modernity and suburbia; for Ruskin, preservation and urban density.  In their blistering prose and inspiring polemics, they offered two ideals of civic socialism which continue to influence urban debate today.


Click here to watch the video


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2011

The 2011 Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture took place on Thursday 1st December at 6.00 pm. 2011, in the Management School Lecture Theatre 1, Lancaster University. It was followed by a wine reception.

Speaker: Professor Michael Wheeler

Title: John's Gospel

The Lecture

Michael WheelerView video»

For the 2011 Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture we welcomed back the founding Director of the Ruskin Library project and research programme at Lancaster University, Professor Michael Wheeler.  In 1999, when Michael published Ruskin’s God (CUP), he completed 26 years as an academic at Lancaster and moved to work on the Chawton House Library project in Hampshire.  In his illustrated lecture, based on new research for his most recent book, St John and the Victorians (CUP, November 2011), he considered Ruskin’s imaginative response to some of the best known stories in the New Testament – the marriage at Cana, Jesus and the woman at the well, the raising of Lazarus – and works of art based on these stories.  Ruskin’s personal motto was inspired by a verse from John’s gospel, and when he died in 1900 a working man sent a wreath with an epitaph taken from the prologue: ‘There was a man sent from God, whose name was John’.   The lecture complemented the theme of this term’s postgraduate Ruskin Seminar series, ‘Ruskin and the Sacred’.


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2010

'No wealth but life': Ruskin and Cultural Value

Professor Robert Hewison (City University London)

18th November 2010, Management School LT1, Lancaster University.

On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication of John Ruskin's Unto This Last, Robert Hewison recalls the financial crisis that prompted Ruskin to begin writing about economics, explores his reading of orthodox economists, and traces the development of Ruskin's ideas about the true nature of value. The modern theory of Cultural Value, Hewison argues, has been developed as a response to the pressure on cultural institutions to justify themselves in utilitarian terms, terms that Ruskin would recognize - and deplore. Hewison suggests that the demands of modern public management, as represented by the proposed structure of the Research Excellence Framework, call for the development of a parallel theory of academic value.


The Mikimoto Memorial Ruskin Lecture 2009

Ruskin and Rossetti: a queer friendship

Professor Barrie Bullen (Professor Emeritus, University of Reading)

4th November 2009, Management School LT1, Lancaster University.

The lecture detailed Ruskin's often demanding patronage of Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddall, Prof. Bullen unpicking the strands of a complicated web woven around Rossetti's artistic development during the 1850s and 1860s, and revealing how the chronology of paintings and private lives were closely interlinked.

A recording of the lecture is available to download.

Download 2009 Mikimoto Lecture

(Please note this is a 13mb download).


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