Thursday, 4 June 2015

Attending Dressing/Undressing the Victorians: now with FULL programme!

As you can see below, our programme has been finalised and we are unable to accept any more offers of papers. However, day delegates are very welcome. Conference rates are £30 for waged and £15 for unwaged attendees.

Please note that Dressing/Undressing the Victorians is an academic conference. Everyone is welcome but unlike some other Textile Stories events, the papers and presentations will be academic in tone.

Looking for more programme information? Find a full abstract list in this post here.

Booking your place

You can book your place by visiting the University of Chester's Storefront

If for any reason this link does not function, go to www.storefront, and click 'Event Booking'. 'Dressing/Undressing the Victorians' can be found there.

Making a weekend of it?

The University of Chester is based in one of the UK's most historical cities. Chester has Roman walls, great street life (including the rare Rows) and a beautiful cathedral. Just outside Chester and of particular interest to Victorianists is Gladstone's Library, one of the UK's most significant nineteenth-century collections.

Please note that there is no accommodation at the university itself, but Chester has many accommodation options. We recommend that you use TripAdvisor to guide your choice.

We look forward to welcoming you to Chester!

Saturday, 21 March 2015

‘The Loose Woman in the Attic: Clothing, Corsetry and Control in Jane Eyre’ - Vivienne Richmond, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘The Loose Woman in the Attic: Clothing, Corsetry and Control in Jane Eyre
Vivienne Richmond, Goldsmiths, University of London
Clothing in Charlotte Brontë’s work has received little scholarly attention, yet Jane Eyre is replete with dress references. From Rochester’s ‘steel clasped’ riding cloak, to the 'brown stuff frocks’ worn by the  Lowood pupils in stark contrast  with the Brocklehurst girls’ ‘shot orange and purple silk pelisses’, and Jane’s rejection of ‘brilliant amethyst’ silk and ‘superb pink satin’ in favour of ‘sober black’ and ‘pearl-grey’ for her trousseau,  Brontë deftly deploys clothing throughout the novel to signal the personalities, class and moral worth of her characters.

References to clothing are much less frequent in Brontë’s personal correspondence, but in one letter she writes about her corset (and Brontë’s corset is among the artefacts at the Brontë Parsonage Museum). Considering that reference in the context of Leigh Summers' assertion that Victorian corsetry was intended to regulate women's minds as much as their bodies, and the intimation (explored by Jean Rhys) that Bertha Mason was sexually voracious, this paper will argue that Brontë’s descriptions of the 'mad' woman's dress suggest an uncorseted, and therefore uncontrolled, body – and mind –  that her captors attempt to bring under control by the imposition of a ‘corset’ through binding.

3a: Re-Defining the Corset (Chair: Alex Tankard) – CWE 124

‘Parasols and Crinolines: Debating pleasure, defence and freedom of movement in steampunk fiction’ - Nickianne Moody, Liverpool John Moores University

‘Parasols and Crinolines: Debating pleasure, defence and freedom of movement in steampunk fiction’.
Nickianne Moody, Liverpool John Moores University
Contemporary understanding of Victorian fashion has to address the ambiguous symbolism of the corset.  It is an item of clothing “embracing at the same time the erotic and the respectable” and as such retains a focus of fascination in neo-Victorian fiction.[1]  It also has a central place in the Liddell Hart Collection of Costume, “Liddell Hart’s rapt attention was focused on one zone in particular the waist, its measurements and its displacement.  About the waist, the wasp waist, he exhibited a kind of monomania”.[2]  The collection holds a variety of women’s and fashion magazines, scrap books and fashion histories which allow for an investigation of the controversy the corset has posed to the Victorians themselves and twentieth century interpretation of its social as well as symbolic role in the representation of ideals of femininity.
The corset, the crinoline and the parasol are reconfigured in steampunk to form associations with the pleasures of fashion and self-determination, self-defence and freedom of movement.  The cage crinoline, the corset and etiquette of accessories are frequently understood as representations of women’s oppression, steampunk however retains the fashion but rejects its twentieth century interpretation.  Steampunk parodies concerns of respectability and charts the heroine’s negotiation of gender politics in the steampunk diegesis through a preoccupation with fashion.  This discursive account of women’s clothing is part of a reconfiguration of the feminine roles of domesticity and maternity located in a neo-Victorian context.  Common to other forms of paranormal romance the fiction speculates on relationships that conform to twenty-first century ideals of the companionate marriage, expectations of life experience for women outside domesticity and a lived culture of sexism.  This paper aims to explore the critical nostalgia of texts which re-imagine the widening sphere of women’s experience in the nineteenth century by using clothing as an explicit form of material culture that enables women to negotiate the public sphere.

3a: Re-Defining the Corset (Chair: Alex Tankard) – CWE 124

[1] Steele, V (1995) Fashion and Eroticism Oxford University Press, Oxford p. 161
[2] Danchev, A (1998) Alchemist of War: The Life of Basil Liddell Hart Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London
p. 85

Post-Victorian Corsetry on Film - Dorota Babilas, University of Warsaw

Post-Victorian Corsetry on Film
Dorota Babilas, University of Warsaw
From Judy Garland musicals to the mock-heritage comedy Stiff Upper Lips (1998) “a corset can do a lot for a lady” (to quote a Carol Channing song). Quintessential Victorian revealing garments reveal more than a bit of tantalising cleavage; they disclose changing worldviews and attitudes of the generations of wearers and spellbound fans since the 19th century to the present.

The corset communicates contradictory cultural messages relating to questions of femininity, sexuality, and power. It can indicate dominance and submission, conservatism and rebellion, violence and liberation. The proposed paper will explore the changing semantics of the corset in post-Victorian film context using theoretical perspectives of Roland Barthes.

3a: Re-Defining the Corset (Chair: Alex Tankard) – CWE 124

Dressing/Undressing the Victorians: KEYNOTE LECTURE

Dr Rachel Carroll, Teesside University

The Sailor’s Return: Literary Adaptation and the Black Atlantic

1.30pm – 2.30pm:   KEYNOTE LECTURE (CWE 018)
Chair: Deborah Wynne

Dressing/Undressing the Victorians: FULL PROGRAMME WITH ABSTRACTS

‘Between ‘dirty ghosts’ and ‘a tailor’s dummy’: The Problem of Dressing a Portrait Statue in Victorian Britain’ - Claire Jones, Independent Scholar

‘Between ‘dirty ghosts’ and ‘a tailor’s dummy’: The Problem of Dressing a Portrait Statue in Victorian Britain’.
Claire Jones, Independent Scholar
Britain’s streets, squares, parks and public buildings are peopled with statues which were mainly commissioned, produced and erected during the Victorian period. They can be difficult to distinguish one from the other, because they generally follow a similar format – a white, middle-aged man in frockcoat and trousers with one foot extended forward, standing on a plinth four-foot high. Yet these now rather homogenous figures belie the fact that, in their day, the portrait statue was one of the most contested forms of contemporary sculpture. Central to this was the problem of how to dress a statue.

In this paper, I will consider the contested subject of clothes in Victorian portrait statues. This was a new type of sculpture, which meant that its parameters were uncertain. Sculptors therefore faced potential opportunities - and serious challenges - when attempting a portrait statue. There were three main dress options available to Victorian sculptors – classical drapery, historic costume and contemporary dress. Some critics demanded that all portraits should be clothed in classical drapery; others maintained that sculpture should be representative of its historical moment. Contemporary dress was the most contested category. The problem was how to depict actual, rather than imagined, people, and still work within the parameters of ideal sculpture. Far from being dull or ubiquitous, I argue that clothing these statues in frockcoats, reveals a profound experiment in modelling modern man in Victorian Britain.

2b: Fabricating Masculinity (Chair: Deborah Wynne) – CWE 125