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Modernism and the Little Glass Dress

Jessica Burstein
Thursday, October 19, 2017
4:00-6:00 PM
3222 Angell Hall Map
Preceding the Little Black Dress was another aesthetic, less noticeable if only by virtue of its material properties: The Little Glass Dress. This aesthetic exploited the female body’s relation to its environment in terms that were literally transparent: beginning with aisthesis as an opportunity for architectural display, but extending its relationship to encasement in multiple forms. This talk contends that the Little Glass Dress begins with the evolution of the department store, glimpsed through Zola’s 1883 novel The Ladies’ Paradise, and continues through to incarnations ranging from the late 19th century Manet painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. It then jumps into the 20th century through the looking glass of Coco Chanel’s mirrored atelier staircase, and runs alongside the avant-garde Italian couturière Elsa Schiaparelli and some later 20th and 21st century contemporary artists and couturiers. In all, we see what feminist scholars have tracked as “the opacity of femininity” take the shape of an increasingly less protean mode: one that cuts increasingly closer if not to the bone, then to that scrim where world stops and skin begins.
Building: Angell Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Books, Lecture, Literature, Media, Research, Visual Arts, Women's Studies
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of English Language and Literature, History of Art, Comparative Literature, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, Women's Studies Department, Romance Languages & Literatures, Penny W Stamps School of Art & Design, Asian Languages and Cultures