Fashioning the Early Modern Courtier

Event Date: 
16 May 2018


St John's College, Cambridge

Early modern courts were crucial sites for the elaboration and diffusion of specific corporeal models aspiring to shape the ideal man and woman. Fashion, then as now, provides a very material setting that has the power to promote specific patterns of thought and action. This one-day workshop sets out to explore the ways in which clothing contributed to the gendered (self)fashioning of the courtier in early modern Europe, examining both its symbolic significance and its action on and interaction with the body. Embracing a corporealist perspective, we endeavour to integrate a semiotic reading of fashion with accounts of its fundamentally embodied nature, both in its creation and in its wearing. Topics examined may range from sartorial trends and beautification techniques to issues related to etiquette and courtly rituals more broadly. The circulation of such practices as well as the making and commercialising of fashionable goods within and beyond courtly circles will also be investigated. Methodological reflections concerning historical research in the field of fashion studies are also welcome, such as the juxtaposition of different types of sources or the epistemological significance of dress reconstruction.  Those interested in delivering a paper are invited to submit a proposal of up to 300 words and a brief biographical note to Valerio Zanetti ( by 22nd January 2018.

Submission date for papers: 
22 Jan 2018