Famine and Fashion: Needlewomen in the Nineteenth Century

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Overview

"The fifteen articles in this book address the seamstress's appearance as a 'real' figure in the changing economies of nineteenth-century Britain, America, and France, and as an important cultural icon in the art and literature of the period. They treat the many different types of needlewomen in the nineteenth century - from skilled milliners and dressmakers, some of whom owned their own businesses selling merchandise to other women (forming a unique 'female economy') to women who, through reduced circumstances, were forced into the lowest end of paid needlework, sewing clothing at home for starvation wages." This volume assembles the work of leading American, British and Canadian scholars from many different fields, including art history, literary criticism, gender studies, labor history, business history, and economic history to draw together recent scholarship on needlewomen from a variety of different disciplines and methodologies. Famine and Fashion will therefore appeal to anyone studying images of work in the nineteenth century, popular and canonical nineteenth-century literature, the history of women's work, the history of sweated labor, the origins of the ready-made clothing industry and early feminism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754608714
  • Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 "Weary stitches" : illustrations and paintings for Thomas Hood's "Song of the shirt" and other poems 13
2 Workers' compensation : (needle) work and ideals of femininity in Margaret Oliphant's Kirsteen 41
3 "Let herself out to do needlework" : female agency and the workhouse of gender in Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit 53
4 The retailoring of Dickens : Christmas shadows, radicalism, and the needlewoman myth 67
5 Chartism and gender politics in Ernest Jones's The young milliner 87
6 The melodramatic seamstress : interpreting a Victorian penny dreadful 99
7 All that glitters is not gold : the show-shop and the Victorian seamstress 115
8 Business or labor? : blurred boundaries in the careers of self-employed needlewomen in mid-nineteenth-century Albany 141
9 Scarlett's sisters : spinsters, widows, wives, and free-traders in nineteenth-century North Carolina 157
10 "Thinking and stitching, stitching and thinking" : needlework, American women writers, and professionalism 171
11 "Furnishing girls with self-supporting trades" : custom needlework and vocational education, 1890-1920 185
12 Virtue, vice, and revolution : representations of Parisian needlewomen in the mid-nineteenth century 201
13 "A heavy bill to settle with humanity" : the representation and invisibility of London's principal milliners and dressmakers 215
14 "Wanted : 1000 spirited young milliners" : the fund for promoting female emigration 229
15 "To be poor and to be honest ... is the hardest struggle of all" : sweated needlewomen and campaigns for protective legislation, 1840-1914 243
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