Nineteenth-Century Fashion

Focusing on France as the capital of style, this seminar examines the significance of fashion during a period of major political, economic, and social change. The course traces the interrelationship of clothing and culture, beginning with the establishment of the Consulate in 1799 and ending with the Paris Exposition of 1900. Topics include Napoleon I’s promotion of luxury in dress as part of his imperial agenda; the dandy and the courtesan as sartorial, social, and literary types; the rise of the middle class and the concomitant proliferation of fashion periodicals and etiquette manuals; Charles Frederick Worth and the establishment of haute couture; the growth of ready-made clothing and the department store as manifestations of bourgeois consumerism; aesthetic dress and the dress reform movements in Britain and the United States; and the emergence of the New Woman at the fin de siècle. Readings include novels by Balzac and Zola. Field trip to the Cora Ginsburg gallery to look at nineteenth-century garments. 3 credits.