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研究生(外文):Li, Ming
論文名稱(外文):Fashion and the New Woman in Edith Wharton’s Fiction
指導教授(外文):Chen, Yin-I
口試委員(外文):Feng, Pin-ChiaChen, Yin-ITsai, Chen-HsingJohn Michael CorriganHsu, Li-Hsin
外文關鍵詞:FashionThe New WomanEdith WhartonFemale subjectivitySocial spaces
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This dissertation explores representations of sartorial display in Edith Wharton’s fiction. Fashion functions as an agency structuring and mediating the New Woman’s body images, identities, and social spaces. Between the writing of her two most famous novels, The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920), the world changed in cataclysmic ways. Since the very fabrics, textures, colors and designs of garments in the late nineteenth century of her youth had fallen out of style, out of favor, and indeed out of memory in the first two decades of the twentieth century, Wharton sought to replenish the collective memory of apparel in the Gilded Age. Much of Wharton’s early fiction is about the juxtaposition of these two worlds, one established for the making of garments and the other for the ceremonial display of goods. Fashion becomes one of the most significant indicators of social transformations. Reading fashion in Wharton’s fiction is the way to read the underlying structure, the interweaving of manners, values, politics, and morals. The overlapped fabric, the draping of a dress, and the veiling of a hat reveal more than they conceal. In other words, fashion outshines all other objects of material culture in Wharton’s early fiction.
This dissertation argues that no matter how people’s interaction with the objects is structured and mediated by consumer culture and material culture, it cannot be recognized as reducible to that culture. Arguably, the nature of human intention itself is lodged within objects, and human relations are framed and structured by the use of objects. This dissertation concerns the New Woman’s rejection of the constrictions of separate spheres and foregrounds the complex reciprocity between material objects and human subjects, particularly the reciprocity of agency between women and fashionable objects, and the process of their mutual constitution and articulation. Fashionable objects come alive in literary texts through their participation and absorption in human histories, routines, practices, and unarticulated aspirations, and vice versa. By highlighting fashion’s active role in negotiating body images, identities, and social spaces, and navigating through power relations, Wharton constructs a new model of female subjectivity as one in flux, always in the process of becoming, and perpetually engrossed in dynamic power relations.
Acknowledgements iii
Chinese Abstract iv
English Abstract vi
Introduction 1
Chapter One: Material Culture and Ways to Theorize Fashion 28
Chapter Two: Fashioning the Self in The House of Mirth 63
Chapter Three: Collection and Display in The Custom of the Country 117
Chapter Four: Fashions and Women’s Spaces in The Age of Innocence 154
Conclusion 191
Works Cited 197
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