The Sufficient Life: Ruskin’s Subversive Idea The 2021 USC/Ruskin Art Club Lecture with Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
The Sufficient Life: Ruskin’s Subversive Idea
The 2021 USC/Ruskin Art Club Lecture with Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
This event is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit www.ruskinartclub.org
We live in a moment of planetary crisis. The global expansion of consumer society has produced worldwide ecological strains, including climate change, the threat of mass extinction, and a greater frequency of epidemics from land use change. Put differently—we are beginning to see the limits of the prevailing growth model. American standards of affluence cannot be universalized without dangerous environmental effects. It is easy to lose hope in the face of these challenges. A long-term remedy to planetary crisis will require profound cultural transformation. How do we overcome the cornucopian idea of insatiability that permeates our culture? This talk will explore the alternative ethics and aesthetics of sufficiency: John Ruskin’s efforts to reorient the imagination away from the marketplace, toward the world of art and nature and the virtues of simple living.
Fredrik Albritton Jonsson is a historian of energy, environment, and intellectual history at the University of Chicago. His writing focuses on two closely related questions: how did fossil fuels come to dominate modern society and what might the past teach us about finding a different way of flourishing in the world? Jonsson is the author of Enlightenment’s Frontier: The Scottish Highlands and the Origins of Environmentalism and, with his wife Vicky Albritton, Green Victorians: The Simple Life in John Ruskin’s Lake District. He is currently finishing a book entitled Scarcity: Economy and Nature in the Age of Capitalism.