Clothing as Visual Language in the Long Eighteenth Century Panel at the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS) Annual Conference
Where: Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
When: March 30 to April 2, 2017
Submission Guidelines: Proposals for papers should be sent directly to the session chair, Kristin O’Rourke, no later than 15 September 2016. Please include your telephone and fax numbers and e-mail address. The session chair should be informed of any audio-visual needs and special scheduling requests. Presentations by younger and untenured scholars are warmly encouraged.
European clothing styles changed dramatically over the course of the eighteenth century, as did their depiction in the arts of the time. While the nervous draperies of late seventeenth-early eighteenth century portraits lend a dynamism and power to the elite subject, the mid-century emphasis on up-to-the-minute fashion and the meticulous representation of fabric and cuts bring a sense of realism to both the glittering upper-class world and lower domestic sphere. By contrast, the later eighteenth century classical revival meant, on the whole, a more abstracted perception of clothing in art as covering or draping the idealized, timeless body, rather than rendering it contemporary and tactile. Can we read clothing in the arts as an expressive language that offers clues as to the power of dress in conveying messages related to social and economic status, craft, fashion, trade, and so forth? Building upon recent work by social, cultural, and art historians on the construction, utility, appropriation, and circulation of clothing as material object and as artisanal product, this panel seeks interdisciplinary papers that explore the multiple meanings of clothing in the visual arts and the connection to ‘real’ clothing. The panel welcomes papers on all aspects of clothing and in all artistic media.