Clare H. Crowston spoke at the Françoise and Georges Selz Lectures on 18th- and 19th-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. Her talk was entitled “Paying for the Sultan’s Pouf: The Asynchronous Time of Fashion and Credit in Eighteenth-Century France.”

Perhaps more than any other period of history, Old Regime France is framed by time, its very designation a result of the revolution that first identified it by destroying it. This paper addressed the time of the Old Regime through the dual lenses of fashion and credit, examining the ever faster pace of fashion in the 1770s and 1780s and contrasting this staccato tempo with the recalcitrant rhythms of credit used to pay for the fashionable clothing and accessories. These differential modes of time both wedded working people to their elite patrons and set them at odds, providing new insight into the lived experience of material culture, value, and inequality in the last decades of the Old Regime.

Clare H. Crowston is Professor and Conrad Humanities Scholar, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her BA in English Literature and European History from McGill University and her MA and PhD in History from Cornell University. Crowston is the author of Fabricating Women: The Seamstresses of Old Regime France, 1675-1791 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), which was awarded the Berkshire Prize for the best first book in history by a woman in North America and the Hagley Prize in business history. Her most recent monograph is entitled Credit, Fashion, Sex: Economies of Regard in Old Regime France (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013). Crowston is also the author of numerous book chapters and articles, which have appeared in journals such as Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales, French Historical Studies, and the International Review of Social History. Along with her co-author Steven L. Kaplan, she has received an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship (2012-2014) for the project “Learning How: Apprenticeship in France, 1670-1830.” Crowston is also co-author of the popular textbooks A History of Western Society (10th edition, Bedford St Martin’s) and A History of World Societies (9th edition, Bedford St. Martin’s).