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Amelia F. Rauser
Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA 17603-2802)

Living Statues: Neoclassical Culture and Fashionable Dress in London, Paris, and Naples in the 1790s

This book will trace the white muslin dress, and the formalist attention to bodily contour it implied, from the gauze "peasant" dresses of Marie Antoinette to the drapery of Emma Hart's "attitudes" in Naples to the fad for the pregnancy-simulating pad in 1793 London to the breast-baring evening gowns of Directoire Paris. Neoclassical dress emphasized new gender ideals, reinforced their essentialism, and represented virtue as inscribed on a perfected body. It also construed that body as an artwork, blurring the boundaries between subject and object, natural and man-made, animated and inanimate, producing and reproducing. The new empiricist science of aesthetics, which rooted the intellectual apprehension of beauty in physical sensation, provided both inspiration and justification for neoclassical dress. I will demonstrate that the seemingly frivolous act of getting dressed was in fact an important, daily intervention in the central aesthetic and philosophical issues of the age.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2012 – 6/30/2012