Roycroft History Course: Ruskin – November 7th


Roycroft History Course:

John Ruskin: A Radical and Humane Visionary, An Introduction

Saturday, November 7th | 11:00 am EST

During the nineteenth century, John Ruskin was one of the most famous men in Europe, America, and the United Kingdom. His books stressing the importance of great art and architecture in any society desirous of seeing itself as civilized were read by almost all educated people and his prose style was always applauded as one of the most eloquent ever rendered in English. When he gave public lectures, they frequently had to repeat them twice, the turn-out was so large. When he died in 1900, the disappearance of his genius was lamented all over the world. And yet, today, few have heard of Ruskin, despite the fact that, as this talk will emphasize, his work on aesthetic matters and social criticism (he was one of the first to call his industrial order to task for wantonly destroying the beauties of nature and impoverishing millions for the sake of becoming rich), remains remarkably relevant to our own era. This talk will serve as a general introduction to Ruskin, his work, and times. It will explain why he has fallen off the cultural radar and propose that, should we wish to find suggestions of enduring merit for how we might extricate ourselves from the painful world-wide predicament in which we moderns find ourselves in, we would be well-advised to begin a serious reassessment of Ruskin.

Dr. James Spates

Jim Spates is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York. He is the Co-Founder (with Sara Atwood), in 2020, of The Ruskin Society of North America, webmaster of the blog site,, a Companion of Ruskin’s Guild of St. George, a Member of the Roycroft Campus Community, and a Member of The Ruskin Art Club in Los Angeles. With another Guild Companion, he has led—and plans to lead more!–various Ruskin tours in the UK and Europe.
For the last three decades, he has lectured regularly in both the UK and US, on various aspects of Ruskin’s life and work. He is the author of many published articles on Ruskin and of the book, The Imperfect Round: Helen Gill Viljoen’s ‘Life of Ruskin.’ Currently, he is writing Availing toward Life: The Radical Social Thought of John Ruskin, a book dedicated to making Ruskin’s masterpiece of social and economic criticism, Unto this Last, accessible to a new generation of readers.


$20 tuition – zoom link will be provided by email the week of the event.

Registration is required.

All proceeds benefit the continued preservation & restoration of the historic Roycroft Campus.