The fictility of porcelain: making and shaping meaning in Lady Dorothea Banks’s “Dairy book"

Newport, Emma (2018) The fictility of porcelain: making and shaping meaning in Lady Dorothea Banks’s “Dairy book". Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 31 (1). pp. 117-142. ISSN 1911-0243

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Abstract

While there are extensive records of Sir Joseph Banks’s lifetime of work, the “Dairy Book” is one of the few surviving documents that chart an aspect of the intellectual life of his wife, Lady Dorothea Banks. The Dairy Book represents a record of Dorothea’s interpretation of her porcelain collection, acquired through the Banks family’s international network of scholars, scientists, and manufacturers. Beginning with a discussion of its unusual materiality, this article argues that the Dairy Book is distanced from the ordinary book form and is instead closer to the porcelain collection in substance: occulted, disorderly, and excessive. The Dairy Book functions as a metonym for the porcelain collection and the substance itself. This article examines porcelain and the collector’s text as fictile material: a portable signifier and a repository for meanings that are shaped by the collector’s selection and display. The plasticity suggested by “fictile” destabilizes understandings of how meaning is created and communicated. It frames how porcelain may be interpreted through associated practices of synecdoche, metonymy, and transposition.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
SWORD Depositor: Mx Elements Account
Depositing User: Mx Elements Account
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2022 09:11
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2022 10:49
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/103636

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