Fashion, Gender and Cultural Anxiety in Italian Baroque Literature.
Romance Notes 2010, Fall, 50, 1
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Since the time of medieval preachers such as Bernardino Da Siena, who condemned luxury, exaggeration and lack of modesty in dress (especially women's), clothes have been powerful signs for communicating the social, gendered and public self in moral, religious and political contexts. Fashion has always been demonized by preachers and moralists, and often represented as a threat to pre-existing models of decorum, gender definitions and the boundaries between them. In the artful shaping and manipulating of body and appearance, fashion was seen in moralistic literature as a "distorted" way of "correcting" nature and the natural body and therefore a sin (Ribeiro, Dress and Morality). Despite the several attempts of moralists, preachers and legislators to control fashion and the social body, fashion continued to matter and remained as an uncontrollable entity that manifested itself in both minimalism and excess. If Cinquecento literature and discourse on dress appears mainly in different kinds of treatises, novelle and other texts of mixed genres such as costume books, it is interesting to note that by the time we reach the seventeenth century fashion appears in a different guise, that of satires and poetry. It is on this that I will mainly focus in this article. Fashion in seventeenth century literature is often described as an infection, a manifestation of duplicity and confusion that in its ambiguous tendency to confuse, disrupts a linear interpretation of identity in social space. (1) This is an identity that often gets entangled in a game of mirrors and mise en abime in which the contours of being and seeming blur into one another in the performance of the clothed self.
- Category: Language Arts & Disciplines
- Published: 22 September 2010
- Publisher: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Romance Languages
- Print Length: 20 Pages
- Language: English