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Accessorizing the Body

Habits of Being I

2011

Cristina Giorcelli and Paula Rabinowitz, editors

Accessorizing the Body

What the smallest detail of dress reveals about gender, sexuality, race, politics, and aesthetics

Accessorizing the Body is the first in the four-part series Habits of Being, which charts the social, cultural, and political expression of clothing as seen on the street and in museums, in films and literature, and in advertisements and magazines. This volume features a close-up focus on accessories—the shoe, the hat, the necklace—intimately connected to the body.

Extremely well written and thought provoking. . . . It’s marvelous to read in such a digestible format.

Heather A. Vaughan, Fashion Historia

The first in the four-part series Habits of Being, charting the social, cultural, and political expression of clothing as seen on the street and in museums, in films and literature, and in advertisements and magazines, this volume features a close-up focus on accessories—the shoe, the hat, the necklace—intimately connected to the body.

These essays, most of which have appeared in the cutting-edge Italian series Abito e Identità, offer new theoretical and historical takes on the role of clothing, dress, and accessories in the construction of the modern subject. With contributions by leading scholars in art history, semiotics, literary and film studies, history and fashion studies, and with additional writings by psychoanalysts, textile artists, and fashion designers from Europe and America, readers will encounter a dizzying array of ideas about the modern body and the ways in which we dress it.

From perspectives on the “model body” to Sonia Delaunay’s designs, from Fascist-era Spanish women’s prescribed ways of dressing to Futurist vests, from Barbara Stanwyck’s anklet to Salvatore Ferragamo’s sandals, from a poet’s tiara to a worker’s cap, from the scarlet letter to the yellow star: Accessorizing the Body imparts startling insights into how much the most modest accessory might reveal.

Contributors: Zsófia Bán, Eotvos Lorand U, Budapest; Martha Banta, U of California, Los Angeles; Vittoria C. Caratozzolo, U of Rome “La Sapienza”; Paola Colaiacomo, U of Rome “La Sapienza”; Maria Damon, U of Minnesota; Giuliana Di Febo, U of Rome Three; Micol Fontana; Manuela Fraire; Becky Peterson, U of New Mexico; Jeffrey C. Stewart, U of California, Santa Barbara; Vito Zagarrio, U of Rome Three; Franca Zoccoli.

Accessorizing the Body

Cristina Giorcelli is professor of American literature at the University of Rome Three, where she chairs the department of Euro-American studies. Her primary fields of research are nineteenth-century American fiction (particularly Washington Irving, Henry James, Kate Chopin, Stephen Crane, and Edith Wharton) and modernist poetry and prose (Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, Willa Cather, Louis Zukofsky, Denise Levertov). She is cofounder and codirector of the quarterly journal Letterature d’America and editor of Abito e Identità: Ricerche di storia letteraria e culturale.

Paula Rabinowitz is professor of English at the University of Minnesota. A feminist scholar of twentieth-century literature, film, and visual culture, she is author of Labor and Desire: Women’s Revolutionary Fiction in Depression America, They Must Be Represented: The Politics of Documentary, and Black & White and Noir: America’s Pulp Modernism.

Paula Rabinowitz is professor of English at the University of Minnesota and the author of many books, most recently Black & White & Noir: America’s Pulp Modernism.

Accessorizing the Body

Extremely well written and thought provoking. . . . It’s marvelous to read in such a digestible format.

Heather A. Vaughan, Fashion Historia

This vigorous collection manages to capture the reader's attention from the very beginning.

European Journal of American Studies

Accessorizing the Body

Preface and Acknowledgments
Clothing, Dress, Fashion: An Arcade
Introduction: Accessorizing the Modern(ist) Body
Cristina Giorcelli
1. No Frills, No-Body, Nobody
Manuela Fraire
2. The Cult of Femininity
Micol Fontana, conversing with Cristina Giorcelli
3. Fashion’s Model Bodies: A Genealogy
Paola Colaiacomo
4. Wearing the Body over the Dress: Sonia Delaunay’s Fashionable Clothes
Cristina Giorcelli
5. Futurist Accessories
Franca Zoccoli
6. Coco, Zelda, Sara, Daisy, and Nicole: Accessories for New Ways of Being a Woman
Martha Banta
7. Precious Objects: Laura Riding, Her Tiara, and the Petrarchan Muse
Becky Peterson
8. Spanish Women’s Clothing during the Long Postwar Period (1937-1950)
Giuliana Di Febo
9. The Yellow Star Accessorized: Ironic Discourse in Fatelessness by Imre Kertész
Zsófia Bán
10. Terra Divisa/Terra Divina (T/E/A/R)
Maria Damon
11. Black Hattitude
Jeffrey C. Stewart
12. Barbara Stanwyck’s Anklet: The Other Shoe
Paula Rabinowitz
13. Fetishizing the Goods in the Cinematic Jewel
Vito Zagarrio
14. Enchanted Sandals: Italian Shoes and the Post-World War II International Scene
Vittoria C. Caratozzolo
Conclusion: In Closing/Close Clothing
Paula Rabinowitz
Contributors

Accessorizing the Body

UMP blog - Why do we study the habits of dress?

Paula Rabinowitz: I did the final page proofing for Accessorizing the Body in Shanghai, where I have been teaching as Distinguished Fulbright Lecturer in American Culture at East China Normal University since February. Since I arrived, I’ve been wandering the streets, soaking up the wild energy of a city whose official motto is “Better City, Better Life” but whose unofficial motto could be “Real city/Fake city,” as one reality about Shanghai is that the atmosphere is filled with artificial materials. Overflowing with goods spilling onto every street and alleyway, the city is a fitting place to contemplate the abundance of accessories and clothing in the new urban landscape—which means on bodies, in shops, strewn over railings, hanging from clotheslines, spread on sheets for sale, displayed from shop windows and hawked by everyone, from the ubiquitous vendors calling out “Lady, lady, you want bags, watch, sunglasses…” on Nanjing Lu to the glitzy “Lady Dior” exhibition guides at the ritzy Plaza 66 House of Dior. This storefront exhibition, which features commercials by David Lynch and John Cameron Mitchell—not to mention a full-size portrait of Iggy Pop in drag carrying his Dior bag—followed the successful Culture Chanel show at Shanghai’s Museum of Contemporary Art on display this winter.


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