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Abstracts are grouped by session.


Friday, October 18

Saturday, October 19


Heather A. Hughes, Good Habits, Bad Habits: The Global Order in Robert Vaughan's Months

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the competing colonial ambitions of the leading European powers created a need for accurate reportage about Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Although the resulting publications delivered practical information to merchants and potential settlers, they also appealed to educated readers curious about the habits and traditions of foreign peoples. Publishers capitalized on this market by adding lavish illustrations and recycling images for atlases and costume books. While such objects were important conduits of global knowledge, they were relatively expensive. Unbound costume prints were affordable alternatives, capable of circulating ideas about foreign culture more widely. Usually dismissed as derivatives of the costume book, these images have yet to receive extensive consideration as a distinct, culturally significant phenomenon.

Focusing on Robert Vaughan's twelve-plate series, Months of the Year in the Habits of Several Nations (ca. 1621), this paper investigates how single-sheet series helped construct and disseminate early modern notions of race and ethnicity. Through a combination of image and text, these plates instruct viewers to see physical appearance as an index of character. Each sheet of Vaughan's series-which was printed in five editions over a fifty-year period-pairs a man and woman of varying national origin with a Zodiac sign. Descriptive verses by Abraham Holland perpetuate stereotypes originating in travel accounts and reinforce national biases against rival countries.

If such prints contributed to the nascent consciousness of ethnic difference, they also signal the fluidity of national boundaries in early modern visual culture. While Holland's text is a significant departure from the Latin inscriptions in the source material-a Dutch series attributed to Crispijn van de Passe II-Vaughan's figures are directly appropriated from the original plates. This paper therefore positions this series at the nexus of two concurrent historical processes: the development of a shared visual culture and the forging of a European identity during a period of expanding global awareness.

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Mariana Françozo, Early Modern Comparative Ethnography: The "Locke Drawings" Collection and the Representation of Indigenous Peoples in Global Perspective (c. 1680-1750)

This paper focuses on the British Library album Ms Add 5253, also known as the 'Locke Drawings' album, which contains 79 folios with colored depictions of native peoples from Ireland, Scotland, North America, Brazil, Angola, the Cape of Good Hope, Java, the Moluccas, Malaysia, China, and Japan. Put together by different scholars between c.1680-1750 - including the philosopher John Locke, and the collectors and naturalists Willem Courtens and Sir Hans Sloane - , this album is a remarkable source to study European understandings of otherness and systems of classification in an age of increasingly global interactions.  The models for the 'ethnographic' depictions in this album can be traced back to sixteenth-century costume books as well as to a number of illustrated travel accounts. Moreover, they relate to a series of other albums in Sloane's collection, which also contain prints and drawings of ethnographic types. By tracing the genealogy of the album and by comparing its images with contemporaneous depictions of foreign peoples, this paper intends to shed light on systems of 'ethnographic' classification, and the role of costume therein, within renaissance visual culture. From a theoretical point of view, in this paper I argue that, much like Renaissance natural history, early modern ethnography was also comparative in its core. More often than not, scholars have studied representations of South American indigenous peoples isolated from their North American, African and Asian counterparts. This division in national boundaries, however, is a result of later historical developments and does not do justice to the original contexts in which such materials were produced and used, which were in fact global contexts.

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Deborah Dorotinsky, It Is Written in Their Faces: Seri Women and Facial Painting in Photography

Photography of ethnic groups in Mexico became in the twentieth century one of the standard documentary practices. We can put forth that as "registry", ethnographic photography operated between two visual modes, or even scopic regimes: on the one hand it was part of the scientific tradition of graphic documentation within the field of ethnography that since the XIX century gathered visual information on the countries diverse indigenous ethnicities (centered on body morphology and ethnic dress), and on the other hand experimented with the aesthetics proper to portraiture and costumbrismo imagery (centered on the iconicity of both face and attire).  Swaying between art and science, ethnographic photography has found no stable place in the historiography of photography in Mexico.

This paper will address the tensions between ethnographic documentation and aesthetic creation inherent in the representation of Seri ethnicity during the first 60 years of the XX century both in selected images in anthropological archives and in the periodical press in magazines such as Mañana.  It will also allow for the revision and comparison of gendered examples and attempt to show that because of the "visibility" of Seri women's facial painting (as opposed to the austerity of their dress), in the popularization of the image of Seri ethnicity, women have been a central and essential element in defining representation of their ethnic group. Beginning with Alfred Kroeber's images held at the anthropology department in the University of Berkley CA (UCB), moving to the archival images of the Fototeca Nacional (SINAFO-INAH), and centering on those in the "Archivo México Indígena" held at the Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales in UNAM-photographed between 1939 and 1946-this case study will attempt to display the weave of the visual, the ethnic, the photographic and the gendered in the first half of the 20th century in Mexico.

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Intersections of Tradition & Modernity

Vanesa Rodríguez-Galindo, Contemporary Costumbrismo in Late Nineteenth-Century Madrid: Points of convergence between the popular and the modern in the illustrated and comical press

From the mid-nineteenth century Madrid saw the effects of technological progress, European urban planning, and the establishment of a mass culture. A straightforward understanding of Spanish modernity and its cultural manifestations, however, has proved to be a difficult task on account of its late industrialization and the dominance of local and costumbrista themes in popular culture. Rather than opposing costumbrismo to the modernizing project, this paper follows recent scholarship that aims to examine the local and the modern as "two sides of the same coin" (Noël Valis, 2003: 9), that is, as intertwined processes.

The present study focuses on the illustrated and comical press during the first half of the Restoration period (1874-1898). I propose a rethinking of prints, cartoons, and vignettes by examining the following themes: Firstly, the links between costumbrismo and concerns regarding modernization and European influence. In terms of formal style, I highlight the intentional use of popular urban archetypes as a narrative device, combined with the desire to illustrate a changing urban landscape in the vein of Realism. To this end, the paper explores depictions that updated popular customs by presenting novel spaces, such as the tram, through the tropes of the costumbrismo. These illustrations were frequently presented under titles of the like of "Costumbres contemporáneas" or "Tipos y costumbres madrileñas." A second body of images will examine popular types associated to Madrilenian identity -such as the romero, chulo, or cigarrera-, and how they were transposed to novel locations that engaged with issues related to modernization and changing socio-spatial relations. Underpinned by collections of late costumbrista writings, press articles and historical sources, this paper hopes to to contribute to a more fluid understanding of lived experience and urban change.

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Lynda Klich, Circulating Indigenism in Mauricio Yáñez's Postcards from Mexico

Although little is known about him today, the Mexican photographer Mauricio Yáñez produced a significant body of postcards during the 1920s and 1930s. Figural compositions with an emphasis on local dress and products, his images continued a long representational tradition that identified characteristically Mexican trades and regional types and established national icons such as the China Poblana and the Charro. As postcards, Yáñez's representations sold in tourist shops and circulated through the mail by means of a decidedly modern medium.  They therefore embody tensions unique to the post-Revolutionary moment in Mexico, when cultural producers often sought to reconcile indigenous traditions and modern art forms in tandem with the governmental drive to unify the Mexican nation through both social and cultural programs.

Like other photographers of the era who circulated images via the postcard, including Hugo Brehme and Luis Márquez, Yáñez participated in the growth of this portable medium in Mexico. Although in Europe and the U.S., the postcard enjoyed its heyday prior to World War I, in Mexico it gained popularity with images of the Revolution of the 1910s, and increased local production during the 1920s. With the rise of tourism as Mexican culture drew an increasingly international audience, the medium remained prevalent through the mid-twentieth century, and functioned effectively to disseminate images of a picturesque rural country.

During the 1920s and 30s, many Mexican artists used local types as subjects, notably in the murals and woodcuts that were key to the development of modernism in Mexico.  As real photographs (meaning the image was directly printed onto postcard stock from the negative), Yáñez's postcards enter into dialogues taking place during the post-Revolutionary period about photography's status as modern art form. Their sleek black and white surfaces suggest high quality art photography, while the staged quality of the scenes, crisp forms, and self-conscious poses of the figures lend the images a cinematic quality akin to film stills. These qualities counter the supposed documentary nature of the photograph that might have attracted tourists to these images of so-called typical Mexicans. Yáñez's postcards thus call into question claims for authenticity with regard to the representation of modern Mexican indigenous culture.  

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Denise Birkhofer, Enrique Díaz's Parade of Progress: Fashioning a Streamlined Mexican Future

In 1938, the General Motors Company tradeshow known as the Parade of Progress-which toured widely across North America from 1936-56-travelled to Mexico City. Conceived as a mobile version of a World's Fair, the Parade of Progress sought to bring displays of technological inventions to the public via a caravan of 33-foot-long GM "Streamliners" that would literally parade through public streets to the fair's set-up location, where the vehicles would be converted into exhibits featuring various advances of modern living.

This talk will focus on a series of images produced by Mexican photojournalist Enrique Díaz (1894-1964), who was hired to document the two-week event in Mexico City. In Díaz's photographs, models sport various traditional Mexican costumes while posing with elements of GM's futuristic exhibits: the women demonstrate how to cook in a modern kitchen, or perch atop the streamlined surfaces of automobiles like the bikini-clad car models of later years. The composition of one such image recalls the altar paintings of the Virgin Mary typical of New Spanish art, which depict effigies of the Virgin in niches flanked by drapery, candles, and flowers, and wearing elaborately-decorated, pyramidal-shaped dresses. The benevolently-smiling woman in Díaz's photograph suggests a mother figure: an allegory for Mexico herself, striving to lead her country forward via the technological advancements made available at the cusp of the Mexican Miracle. The juxtaposition of these two icons-the virginal mother figure in her regional costume and the streamlined American automobile-symbolize the complexities of Mexico's position in the late 1930s, straddled in between the spheres of indigenous tradition and imported modernity. These tensions, and the role that these images would have played for the Mexican government and public at large, will be examined throughout the paper.

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Exoticism & Empire

Matthew Keagle, Uniform Schemas: The Abstraction of Dress and The Unity of Uniforms

In addition to costume books of foreign styles and types, printers and engravers in Europe produced related pictorial representations of European soldiers. These uniform schemas ranged from realistic depictions to charts where clothing was abstracted into simple shapes and colors. Although most common as mass-produced prints the impulse to comprehensively capture the dress of soldiers was repeated in many media from royally commissioned oil paintings to an actual uniform collection acquired by the Landgrave of Hessen-Darmstadt. From New York to Mexico City soldiers caught in the imperial conflicts of the 18th century created charts and drawings documenting military dress using the conventions of uniform schemas. Those conventions found their way back into military maps allowing Europeans to visualize clothing alongside imperial geography and warfare.

The printers of schemas though often struggled to represent the exotic dress of fringe cultures taken into European empires, such as Hungarian Hussars, Scottish Highlanders or Croatian Pandours. Furthermore old uniforms were often rapidly superseded by new regulations and the attrition and scale of colonial and imperial wars meant that soldiers in the field rarely resembled those found on uniform plates.

Despite this potential inaccuracy, uniform schemas continued to be popular.  They reflect the rationalizing impulse of the Enlightenment, of which uniforms themselves were a part, and represent an important vector of European cultural coherence. While ostensibly an accurate rendition of military dress, uniform schemas represent an ideal. Their reliance on conventions of representation promoted a pan-national Western style of military dress. Military uniforms had been designed to differentiate nations from each other but ultimately, through the media of uniform schemas, they helped to unify a decidedly unstable Europe in the face of an ever widening world.

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Elisabeth Fraser, The Ottoman Costume Album and Inclusive Empire: Louis Dupré in Ottoman Greece

Louis Dupré's Voyage à Athènes et Constantinople is a fascinating example of a travel book so contradictory it begs to be read against the grain. Taking the form of a costume album, it is based on notes and drawings made during the artist's voyage in the Ottoman Empire in 1819. However, the book was produced in France from 1825 to 1839, after the outbreak of Greek insurrections against Ottoman rule in 1821, a popular cause in France. This contextual gap between the moment of travel and the moment of production accounts for the work's contradictory aspects. It is overtly philhellenic, taking the side of the Greek rebels in their conflict with the Ottomans, seeing in the insurgence a revival of ancient ideals and culture. Yet key aspects of the work, particularly its costume images, tug against and undermine its underlying turcophobia and, ultimately, its nationalist, essentialist message of Hellenic regeneration. Dupré's colorful plates are striking and even hauntingly memorable, arresting the viewer's attention. His close-up depiction of boldly posed figures introduces an ambiguity into his travel account that belies its ideological frame. In particular, the costume images, resembling Ottoman-produced costume albums, implicitly celebrate a notion of empire-as-diversity that contradicts Dupré's nationalist text. With its codification of difference, the genre of the costume book was particularly well suited to the representation of Ottoman diversity. Showcasing multiplicity, Ottoman costume books and albums astonish and delight with their parade of Ottomans in a mind-boggling variety of headgear, sashes, robes, overcoats, and slippers. Dupré's images, too, put on display a dazzling array of Ottomans and their sheer variety invokes the wide reach of the Ottoman Empire: Tartare, Armenian, Albanian, Souliote, Mamluk, Turk, Moldavian, and Greek cohabit his pages. Dupré's philhellenic discourse jars with the rich and cosmopolitan world of empire his book in fact reveals. Despite himself Dupré allows us to glimpse the eastern Mediterranean world before the formation of nations we now take for granted. In its contradictory representations, Dupré's work, to borrow and recontextualize Benedict Anderson's phrase, is an example of the tight skin of nation being stretched over the gigantic body of empire.

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Victoria L. Rovine, Fashion at the Intersection of French and African Colonial Cultures

The development of the modern fashion industry in France coincided with the height of the nation's colonial enterprise, in the first decades of the twentieth century.  This paper will bring these two elements of France's global influence together by exploring the central role of dress in the representation--and the invention--of cultural identities on both sides of the colonial divide between France and French West Africa.

African dress practices were central to the French representation of colonial cultures in the 1920s and 1930s.  In popular media such as postcards, advertisements, and the highly visible venues of the colonial expositions, African clothing featured prominently in the construction of the colonies as exotic, primitive, and susceptible to the positive influence of the "civilizing" French.  Fashion designers, including Paul Poiret, milliner Madame Agnès, and textile design firms such as Rodier, created Africa-inflected designs that reflected these constructions of the continent rather than any actual African precedent.  An exploration of these representations of African style reveals the tensions implicit in France's colonial endeavors, for they emerged out of the drive to civilize (read: Westernize) colonial subjects, and the desire to draw on these same subjects' purportedly "primitive" practices in order to enrich French culture.

Meanwhile, in France's West African colonies, African innovators were reinventing dress styles, strategically drawing Western garments into longstanding systems of status.  These adaptations of Western fashion were the subject of much commentary and, in some instances, condemnation by European observers.  Through an analysis of this European commentary, the trade records of European textile firms, the visual record provided by photography of the era, and the writings, published and unpublished, of West Africans themselves, this paper will offer insights into the West African use of clothing to negotiate a changing cultural landscape.

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Gender Anxieties

Ann Jones, Merchandising Gender: Women's Dress and Women's Duties in Two Sixteenth-Century Costume Books, Jost Amman's Frauenzimmer/Gynaeceum and Cesare Vecellio's Habiti antichi et moderni (1590 and 1598)

The interplay of woodcut images and written commentary in sixteenth-century costume books clearly reveals their publishers' commercial and ideological investments in representing clothing as a basis for moral judgments of women in their cities. In 1586 the Frankfurt publisher Sigmund Feyerabend brought out two books simultaneously, using the same woodcuts by Jost Amman but framing them with different texts: Im Frauenzimmer with German Knittelvers by Konrad Lautenbach, and Gynaeceum sive Theatrum Mulierum with Latin distychs by François Modius. Both writers preach to women, praising rank-appropriate behavior in good burgher wives and hardworking housemaids. But Lautenbach's civic pride and positive view of traditional German women's apparel contrast strongly to Modius' deadly serious classical erudition and high moral tone. These differences open up the gendered rhetoric at work in costume-book images and commentary generally. I will briefly pursue such text-image editorializing in a second pair of books, Cesare Vecellio's Habiti antichi et moderni of 1590 and its revised edition of 1598. His Habiti, in his own colloquial Italian in 1590, then in abridged Italian passages juxtaposed to Latin translations by the Sienese humanist Sulstazio Graziliano in 1598, raise issues similar to Amman's pair. Why are women praised, why blamed? How do the books interpret their clothing in the service of gendered morality and civic celebration? What kinds of visual and textual experience did the different formats of these books--local vernaculars versus humanist Latin--provide to their target audiences?

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Leyla Belkaïd, A Stylistic Change and Its Pictorial Representation: The Algiers Dress in Western Imagery

It is noteworthy that the Algiers female dress is one of the most represented non-Western costumes in the 19th and early 20th century Orientalist art, as a consequence of the profound influence of Eugène Delacroix's Women of Algiers in their Apartment (1834) on several generations of painters and photographers. Following Delacroix's visit to Algiers in 1832 - two years after the French troops invaded the city -, deep changes occured in local dress codes during the second half of the 19th century. Under the French domination, women juggled with their sartorial identity as dress transformation became the increasing expression of culturally and socially ambivalent realities. By inventing the karakoo, a tightly cut jacket worn over a corset contrasting with the wide geometric panels of the ghlila jacket depicted by Delacroix, they communicated their conflicting identities through their dressed bodies. The karakoo (from French caraco), combining both local and European standards within a single outfit, forced Western artists to deal with the mutation of Algiers dress. Algerian women's clothing choices posed a dilemma to the painters and photographers who seeked to preserve the prevailing image of the seductive Oriental woman confined in a harem. Because of the disconfort the karakoo jacket and corset inflicted to their bodies, models had to adopt less lascivious attitudes. European artists could no longer decide for them to sit or lie down in a highly sexualized "Oriental manner". Moreover, local women participated in the formulation of their own self-image and brought a shift to the stereotyped perception of the over-static image of non-European dress. This paper aims at exploring the relations and disjunctions between the local dress of a Southern Mediterranean population evolving in a colonial context and its translation by the Western artistic imagery at the turn of the 20th century.

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Maya Jiménez, The Myth of the Bahiana in Nineteenth-Century Photography

Candomblé, which means, "dance in honor of the gods," originated among the Afro-Brazilian community of Bahia as a mixture of West African and European spirituality. Candomblé contains a pantheon of orixás, each associated with a particular natural force. Through elaborate dances and costumes the orixás come "alive." In Salvador of Bahia, women wear a distinct liturgical costume that consists of a white camizu (blouse), a long saia (skirt), a wrapped ojá (headtie), and various ileki (beaded necklaces). Through a selection of photographs by Marc Ferrez (1843-1923), Christiano Junior (1832-1902), and Alberto Henschel (1827-1882), this paper seeks to examine how these images of Bahian women in Candomblé dress, which were mainly circulated among tourists, contributed to the popularization and misconception of Afro-Brazilian women. As a result of the decontextualized nature of these photographs, Bahianas were depowered, exoticized, and marginalized even further.

Rather than taking photographs of Candomblé rituals, many of which were suppressed during the nineteenth century, the photographers displaced the participants in a photographic studio, thus undermining the very nature of the ritual. Their solitary and frozen presence, contrived poses, and representation as street vendors rather than religious participants not only fictionalized the cultural experiences of these women, but gave them new meaning. While similar cultural incongruities appeared in other visual art forms, photography was the only medium capable of capturing these subjects in such an "accurate" manner, since the technology validated the facticity of the image. Furthermore, black and white photography undermined the colorful accessories usually employed during these rituals, further undermining the legitimacy of the image by heightening the aesthetic contrasts created between their black skin and white camizu, and thus feeding into the foreign craze for the exotic. Inscribed with various markers of difference, these photographs, which often circulated as inexpensive and accessible cartes de visite, gave new meaning to this type of dress, and to the women, who in estranged spaces and random poses, encapsulated the myth of the Bahiana.

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Social & Civic Life

Eugenia Paulicelli, Fashioning Venice: Power, History and Gender in Giacomo Franco's Costume Books (ca. 1610) 

Fourty years after Lepanto (1571), when Venice and the Holy League unexpectedly defeated the Turks, the battle's representations and protagonists, such as the commander in chief of the Venetian contingent, Sebastiano Venier, make an appearance in the opening plates of Giacomo Franco's costume book. Around 1610, Franco (1550-1620), a Venetian engraver, chalcographer and printer published his first edition of Habiti d'huomeni et donne venetiane, later to be reprinted along with La città di Venetia con l'origine e governo di quella and his third work Habiti che gia tempo usavano le donne vinetiane (reprinted in 1614).

We are immediately faced with two apparent and unreconcilable paradoxes. Why go back to Lepanto at a time when it was clear that that Christian victory had not really undermined the economic and political power of the Ottoman Empire in Europe and when Italian cities were gradually losing their hegemony within the context of a wider global economy? Secondly, why did history, local and international politics play such a key role in a text on clothing and the representation of dress and its performance in public space? This issue is particularly relevant insofar as, in the second part of his album, Franco dedicates a great deal of attention to questions of dissimulation in dress and love with its tricks and deceiving features, but also courtesans, another important feature of "venezianità" and acts as a counterpoint to the political power described in the first part.

The paper will address these three points and show how they are all linked to defining fashion as an economic and symbolic force connected to urbanity. More precisely, in Franco's work, fashion is revealed in its double face and functions: on the one hand, its mediatic/public apparatus that can play a key role in the propagandistic aim of "branding" the image of the city to the world; and on the other, its power to convey an image of a political leader, and to seducing and play on emotions, as in the case of the luxuriously dressed courtesans. This interplay between being and seeming, the manipulation of nature through art, dress and make-up are at the core of the practices of dissimulation to which Franco refers in his costume plates at the end of his album.

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Sarah Buck, Les Costumes grotesques (c. 1695): Prints and Professional Habits in the ancien régime

This paper discusses Les Costumes Grotesques (c. 1695) a group of ninety-nine single-figure etchings by Parisian printmaker Nicolas II de Larmessin.  In these prints graceful men and women, identified by captions as artisans and merchants in the manner of contemporary trade prints, pose with seemingly every imaginable consumer object that was crafted, sold, and utilized for the purposes of enhancing early-modern life.  These items, amusingly, form the fanciful occupational "clothing" of its elegant figures.  Shards of glass and strips of iron, for example, form an armor-like suit for the window-pane glass maker; bulbous bottles, delicate glasses, and etched serving plates dangle from the shoulders and limbs of the glassware and faïence ceramics seller.  Larmessin's locksmith and horse-shoe maker both possess fiery forges for ribcages and both feature a bellows protruding from their backs.  Both the cobbler and the shoe repairman, unsurprisingly, wear jackets decorated with shoes.  Foodstuffs and plants also clothe figures, as in the grape leaves and vines that enrobe both the wine-seller and wine-grower.

Larmessin's Costumes stand in stark contrast to other types of figural images circulating amidst the Parisian print-consuming public at the end of the seventeenth century.  "Cries," or depictions of urban workers and vendors, for instance, purported to truthfully document the lower social orders; depictions of foreign populations in costume books made similar claims.  My paper argues that while the Costumes do not allege a one-to-one relationship between printed image and early-modern artisan in the same way as these other works, they relate broadly to contemporary attitudes regarding the correlation between outward appearance and professional or social identity, and specifically to motifs present in the visual and performing arts, entertainment, and social practices of seventeenth-century France.  In probing these connections, my study establishes the place Larmessin's Costumes occupies in ancien régime visual culture.

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Emily Morgan, "True Types of the London Poor:"  Street Life in London's Transitional Typology

Photographic representation of poverty and street culture underwent a fundamental shift between the later nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. During this period the street-type, a style derived from print culture, largely gave way to a more naturalistic, social-documentary style of image. This paper examines the 1877-78 publication Street Life in London, by photographer John Thomson and journalist Adolphe Smith, as a case-study of this shift in its nascency.

Published first as a monthly serial and later as a book, Street Life aimed to reveal the conditions of a life of poverty in London by combining photographic illustrations with essays, a novel idea. In the Preface, the authors stated that photography's "unquestionable accuracy" would "enable [them] to present true types of the London Poor." With the term "true type," this paper contends, the authors indicated a break with past modes for representing poverty. Where a "street type" was a patent construction, static and isolated, these "true types" would be context-dependent and reform-minded. Images would show street laborers grounded in the physical landscape of London and enmeshed within their social milieus. Texts would provide facts and figures, reveal social ills, and plead for reform.

Early issues of the serial did not sell, however. Critics and audiences were perplexed by this new way of envisioning poverty. In response, both authors altered their approaches. Thomson's photographs became more like traditional street types, and Smith's texts became less confrontational, replacing demands for reform with gentler suggestions for philanthropic intervention. Tracing these developments, this paper offers close readings of text and image to show how Street Life in London stands as a transitional work in the representation of poverty and street culture.

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Masquerade & Appropriation

Ashley Bruckbauer, Playing the Ambassador and the "Other:" Cultural Cross-dressing and French Foreign Policy in the 18th and Early-19th Centuries

French dressing à la turc, often seen in eighteenth-century fancy-dress portraits and images of masked balls, is part of a larger phenomenon of cultural cross-dressing common during the period. To date, the diplomat or emissary has remained a largely peripheral figure in most scholarship on the subject, which has failed to distinguish this official character from the broader society's practice. Images depicting instances of cultural cross-dressing by both diplomats and "civilians" masked as ambassadors provide the focus of this paper. Joseph-Marie Vien's prints portraying the 1748 Caravane du Sultan à la Mecque, a public masquerade performed in Rome by the French Academy pensioners, illustrate French academicians "playing" both Turk and ambassador in a series of allegedly ethnographic costumes. Likewise, eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century diplomatic portraits demonstrate the adoption of foreign dress as a common practice among diplomats. I argue that the case of French artists performing as Turks and foreign ambassadors to glorify France, as well as that of ambassadors abroad adopting foreign dress to further the diplomatic interests of their homeland, suggests a larger connection between diplomacy and masquerade. Images of culturally cross-dressed diplomats in particular demonstrate that the practice of diplomacy often required an intermingling of self and other akin to masquerade's blending of wearer and mask. Dress is perhaps the most visually apparent aspect of this deeper exchange that takes place during diplomatic encounters between cultures. I argue that the recurring depiction of cultural cross-dressing in a diplomatic context signals the vital role costume played in French foreign policy. These images demonstrate how French dressing à la étranger becomes a public act of diplomacy that asserts French interests, while simultaneously subverting Frenchness as defined through dress.

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Tara Zanardi, The Mantón de Manila at the Crossroads of Identity 

By the mid-nineteenth century, the mantón de Manila was considered a quintessential component of Spanish dress, richly embroidered in intricate designs and handcrafted in silk. Associated primarily with southern Spain, this shawl epitomized Spanish feminine elegance with its vibrant palette, long fringes, and patterned delicacy. The shawl could be worn in a variety of ways, and provided a practical function as protection against the sun or as added warmth. The shawl also created visual drama when worn while dancing traditional Spanish dances, like sevillanas or flamenco. Despite the mantón de Manila's significant sartorial and cultural connections to Andalusia (and to a lesser extent other Spanish regions), it was first manufactured in China (predominately Canton) as a sumptuous garment fabricated specifically for export to Spain and its American colonies, sold in Manila, and then brought to Acapulco and then to Spain via its southern ports. It was not made locally until the end of the 1800s when female artisans began to fabricate the shawls in rural Andalusian towns and in Seville.

As an item traded on the global network of cultural contact and commodities exchange via the Manila Galleons, the historic trade route established in the sixteenth century between Spain and its colonies in the Philippines and the Americas, the mantón de Manila is a complex garment fraught with diverse meanings and multi-layered identities. The shawl offers a paradigmatic case study for exploring issues of national, gendered, and sartorial identity in the nineteenth century by engaging broader topics, such as colonialism, exoticism, and nationalism. Images of Spanish women wearing this garment emphasize the vital role played by clothing in establishing national and gendered identities. Featured in bullfighting posters, costumbrista paintings, and advertisements for export items, such as sherry and cigars, the mantón de Manila performed an integral part in identifying women as Spanish, along with mantillas, fans, tall hair combs, and arms akimbo. The shawl helped to formulate a characteristic vision of authentic Spanish femininity that was popularized in Spain and abroad despite regional variety in dress and the garment's colonial origins. First coveted as an exotic luxury, the mantón de Manila quickly became an object regarded as distinctly Spanish and the epitome of southern Spanish feminine grace.   

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Teresa Eckmann, Playing the Devil's Advocate with a Twist: Julio Galán and lo mexicano 

My book Neo-Mexicanism: Mexican Figurative Painting and Patronage in the 1980s (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2010) explored the production of an artistic generation who revisited known signs of identity, icons, and historic figures; they blurred the boundaries of the sacred and the profane, high and low, and exploited the kitsch or cursi (lowbrow), with an approach that was sometimes nostalgic, and often irreverent. The message of their work can be ambiguous, appearing at times folkloric in their apparent replication of stereotype and at other times, clearly conveying a critical post-modern approach-where familiar imagery is appropriated and repurposed.

For the "Fashioning Identities" symposium I am interested in establishing Julio Galán's (Mexican, 1958-2006) place within neo-Mexicanism. Galán relies on the self-portrait to build his body of large-scale figurative paintings and uses self-costuming as a device to bring attention to questions of identity. While Galán's visual references are many, among them are those that have contributed to fixed ideas about Mexican culture including 19th century cartes de visite of local "types," lotería imagery, postcards, and tourist souvenir photography. Works of his that have been exhibited as neo-Mexicanist are those that specifically target Mexican iconic figures such as the Tehuana, the China Poblana, or the charro. Galán exploits and explodes these icons of the national; he might cut a hole in the canvas where the Tehuana's face belongs, so that literally anyone, regardless of gender or ethnicity, can become the "exoticized other." In addition to indigenism, Galán tackles additional essentializing narratives in his work-primitivism and Orientalism, for example-presenting himself as an aborigine complete with body paint in one canvas, or dressed in Chinese fashion in another. At times Galán's imagery is much less direct, complicated by wordplay with the inclusion of text (dichos or local sayings) written on the canvas. My paper would introduce this post-modern contemporary Mexican artist and elaborate how he uses costuming and text to challenge constructions of identity. 

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Charlene Lau, Sartorial Remembrance: Bernhard Willhelm and Tirolean Folk Dress

At first glance, contemporary German designer Bernhard Willhelm's oeuvre is unclassifiable. Menswear and womenswear collections recall elevated streetwear gone awry, and borrow from across the cultural and social spectrum. Quoting both historical and contemporary moments, themes of past collections have included the Black Forest, Japanese street cleaners, black culture, and the Iraq War. Specifically, Willhelm's Spring/Summer 2007 menswear and womenswear collections feature Tirolean folk dress; lederhosen, cross-braces, stockings with garters and felt hats are hybridized with contemporary silhouettes. Although these so-called traditional garments have been committed to collective memory, their exact origins are less commonly known. The alpine region is mythologized in modernity throughout popular culture. Films such as The Sound of Music and its nostalgic "folk" song "Edelweiss," come to mind, while stereotypes such as the "yodeler" and alphorn player in Ricola cough-drop advertisements proliferate. Generalized representations such as these only further heighten the collective cultural memory of this geographical area. This paper examines instances of "sartorial remembrance" (Ulrich Lehmann) and romantic nationalism in Bernhard Willhelm's collections in reference to globalized contemporaneity, Walter Benjamin's concept of a tiger's leap, and Jetztzeit (now-time or a revolutionary moment outside of history). I argue that Willhelm's quotations of the past make sense of our fractured present; they are contemporary objects in that they are against time (con-temporary) or out-of-time. In this way, cultural memory functions outside of time, where fashion, as a representation of history, is non-linear. As Ulrich Lehmann contends, "even the present itself is not real; reality lies only within a particular point in time. Any temporal extension must be subjective, generated through memory."

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