The Ruskin Birthday Lecture

Oak Spray In Winter
John Ruskin, An Oak Spray in Winter (c. 1860)*

On February 7-8, 2020, we hosted at Notre Dame the conference John Ruskin: Prophet of the Anthropocene, the very last event in a year of international celebrations of Ruskin's 200th birthday. On the evening of February 8, Ruskin's 201st birthday, Clive Wilmer, who had just stepped down at the end of a long tenure as Master of Ruskin's Guild of St George, delivered a keynote address, reflecting on the role of the Guild in the world.

Clive's lecture launched a new annual Ruskin Birthday Lecture Series at Notre Dame, in which an invited speaker would reflect on the role of the arts and humanities to address the crises of the day -- in the spirit of Ruskin, at least, if not always about Ruskin.

Our second speaker, on February 8, 2021, was to be Gabriel Meyer, executive director of the Ruskin Art Club in Los Angeles. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that none of us saw coming as we started planning the lecture last February, has meant that we are unable to hold the lecture this year. We very much hope that Gabriel will be able to join us in person in South Bend next year, to deliver what will still be the second Ruskin Lecture.

In the meantime, to honor Ruskin's 202nd birthday, we have asked some of the conference participants to provide a written reflection on Ruskin, at the end of a year of plague, racial injustice, and social and political turmoil. So, in lieu of this year's Ruskin Lecture, please enjoy these Ruskin Birthday Reflections.

*Image is in the public domain.