A richly illustrated exploration of fashion and its capacity for generating controversy and constructing social and individual identities
Clothing matters. This basic axiom is both common sense and, in another way, radical. It is from this starting point that Michelle Liu Carriger elucidates the interconnected ways in which gender, sexuality, class, and race are created by the everyday act of getting dressed. Theatricality of the Closet: Fashion, Performance, and Subjectivity between Victorian Britain and Meiji Japan examines fashion and clothing controversies of the nineteenth century, drawing on performance theory to reveal how the apparently superficial or frivolous deeply affects the creation of identity.
By interrogating a set of seemingly disparate examples from the same period but widely distant settings—Victorian Britain and Meiji-era Japan—Carriger disentangles how small, local, ordinary practices became enmeshed in a global fabric of cultural and material surfaces following the opening of trade between these nations in 1850. This richly illustrated book presents an array of media, from conservative newspapers and tabloids to ukiyo-e and early photography, that locate dress as a site where the individual and the social are interwoven, whether in the 1860s and 1870s or the twenty-first century.
Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations Chapter One. “Tissue of Quotations”: Fashion and Subjectivity Chapter Two. “Typical Modern Amazon”: Freaks of Fashion, Newspaper Nightmares, and the Girl of the Period Chapter Three. “Extraordinary Revelations of the Hermaphrodite Clique”: Boulton and Park and the Theatre Defense Chapter Four. “Great Mirrors”: Redressing Nation, Gender, and Modernity in Meiji Japan Chapter Five. “Returning to the Real Me”: Gothic Lolita Self-Fashioning Notes Bibliography
MICHELLE LIU CARRIGER is an associate professor of theater and performance studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her articles have won the Gerald Kahan Scholar’s Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research, and the Award for Outstanding Article from the Association for Theatre in Higher Education.
"Lively and deeply researched, this remarkable study is an insightful contribution to histories of modernity, comparative performance studies, and culture and gender studies in which the simple act of dressing is a struggle over how the future is imagined.” —Peter Eckersall, CUNY Graduate Center
Learn more about upcoming publications, events, and news from Northwestern University Press.