The utopics of improvement in eighteenth-century visual representations of Irish demesnes
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Eighteenth-century Anglo-Irish society has been characterised as having a utopian structure of feeling, a common set of perceptions and values that grew out of the intellectual and pragmatic activities associated with improvement. As improvement culture viewed the estate as a microcosm of society and therefore an ideal laboratory for agricultural and social betterment, the demesne was a space that emerged from the utopianism of the contemporary moment. This thesis analyses demesne representations in terms of the utopianism of improvement, arguing that shifts in content and formal conventions reflected not only changes in Anglo-Irish society and culture over the century, but also shifts in the Irish utopian imagination.