In the late 1790s, British Prime Minister William Pitt created a crisis of representation when he pressured the British Parliament to relieve the Bank of England from its obligations to convert paper notes into coin. Paper quickly became associated with a form of limitless reproduction that threatened to dematerialize solid bodies and replace them with insubstantial shadows.
Media Critique in the Age of Gillray centres on printed images and graphic satires which view paper as the foundation for the contemporary world. Through a focus on printed, visual imagery from practitioners such as James Gillray, William Blake, John Thomas Smith, and Henry Fuseli, the book addresses challenges posed by reproductive technologies to traditional concepts of subjective agency.
Joseph Monteyne shows that the late eighteenth-century paper age’s baseless fabric set the stage for contemporary digital media’s weightless production. Engagingly written and abundantly illustrated, Media Critique in the Age of Gillray highlights the fact that graphic culture has been overlooked as an important sphere for the production of critical and self-reflective discourses around media transformations and the visual turn in British culture.
About the author
Joseph Monteyne is an associate professor in the Department of Art History, Visual Art, and Theory at the University of British Columbia.